The legal implications of Brexit for businesses, the claims culture in Ireland and the resurgence of the construction industry were key themes for the conference.
The event was sponsored for the second year in a row by Holmes O’Malley Sexton (HOMS) and managing partner Harry Fehily gave the opening address.
He said that the resurgence of the construction industry means there is a need for increased preparedness on potential professional negligence cases.
Implications of Brexit
Justice Gerard Hogan, Advocate General, European Court of Justice since 2018, chaired the conference.
A former Irish High Court Judge, he has been vocal on the implications of Brexit for the legal profession given the centuries-long ties between the Irish and English legal system.
He said: “As the Brexit deadline draws closer, the impact for the Irish legal system will be considerable and remains unpredictable, depending on the ultimate form that Brexit will take.
“Irish legal practitioners may over time have to react to the pressure for codification in large areas of private law presently covered by traditional common law rules and case-law.
“Existing novel legislative measures such as the EU Unfair Contract Terms Directive, will become even more critical in areas such as contract law or banking law.”
He continued “The scope and pace of this change could be significant for those dealing with the corpus of CJEU jurisprudence in a range of areas from family law to European Arrest Warrants to copyright.
Magnitude of change
“Those who respond most effectively to the new post-Brexit landscape will inevitably manage their risk more successfully than those who do not look to adapt”.
He urged practitioners to reflect on the magnitude of the change ahead, to both the fabric and structure of the Irish legal system, in the absence of the United Kingdom.
Michael Carrigan of HOMS spoke about the role of the independent expert solicitor in professional negligence cases.
The topic of whether Ireland has a claims culture problem was dealt with by senior counsel Rossa Fanning, who practises in civil and commercial litigation.
Expert speakers included Simon Wilton of Hailsham Chambers, barrister Kellie Smith, Declan O’Rourke of AIG Ireland, Damian Kilpatrick and Michael Davis of Aon and Tony Reddy of Reddy Architecture + Urbanism who spoke on the role of the expert architect in professional negligence cases.
The PNLA conference is now in its fourth year.