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Review of Legal Services

The Department has consulted on a draft Legal Complaints and Regulation Bill. The Bill is designed to give effect to many of the recommendations proposed by a Legal Services Review Group, chaired by Professor Sir George Bain.

The main recommendations in the Bain report included proposals to reform the complaints-handling system of the Law Society and the Bar Council, the creation of the post of Legal Services Oversight Commissioner to oversee both branches of the profession, and other recommendations relating to competition.

The report was circulated for comment from interested parties in 2007. A draft Bill was prepared that translated the general recommendations contained in Bain into concrete legislative proposals, principally in relation to complaints handling issues. The draft Bill was available for comment from interested parties until the end of February 2014. The consultation has now closed.

Interested parties should however note that the copy of the draft Bill contained in the consultation document was not the final draft prepared by lawyers in the Office of the Legislative Counsel. Unfortunately the copy was infected during the printing process and contained some technical errors. These in no way affected the policy and the Department is of the view that the consultation is entirely valid, but for the information of interested parties, the correct version of the draft Bill is available at the link below. The Department apologises for any inconvenience this may have caused.

The Department has considered all of the responses received during the consultation and has undertaken some further work. A detailed analysis of the responses has been produced, and is available below. The Minister will now consult with his Executive colleagues with a view to bringing a draft Bill to the Northern Ireland Assembly.

Further information on both the Bain Review and the consultation can be obtained by contacting Michael Foster, Legal Services Review, 7th Floor, Goodwood House, 44-58 May Street, Belfast BT1 4NN, Tel: 02890 256031, email: