501. Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn asked the Minister for Justice and Equality when a person (details supplied) in County Wicklow will receive a reply from her Department to correspondence alleging the person is a victim of legal malpractice. [20362/15]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Under the Solicitors Acts 1954-2011, the Law Society is the designated regulatory body for solicitors in the State. All regulatory investigations and complaints-handling procedures are conducted within that legislative framework and regulations made under it. This framework includes recourse to the Independent Adjudicator in relation to complaints, as well as a key role for the High Court in making the final order, for example, that a solicitor be struck off. Such proceedings are in the judicial sphere which are protected by the separation of powers under the Constitution and, as Minister for Justice and Equality, I cannot intervene or play a role in relation to such proceedings or by reference to their previous outcomes. As the Deputy will be aware, under the Legal Services Regulation Bill, which has just completed Seanad Second Stage, there will be a new and independent public complaints regime for dealing with allegations of misconduct by both solicitors and barristers who will also be answerable, where appropriate, to the new Legal Practitioners' Disciplinary Tribunal. A direct response has issued to the correspondence raised by the Deputy along these lines.