Barristers and solicitors to jointly provide legal services for the first time under new Bill from Ministers Humphreys and Browne



8 June 2021


The Minister for Justice, Heather Humphreys TD, and Minister of State with responsibility for Law Reform, Immigration and Youth Justice, James Browne, TD, have secured Government approval for the publication of the General Scheme of the Courts and Civil Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2021 and its priority drafting.


Commenting on the Bill, Minister Humphreys said,


This wide-ranging Bill will provide for legislative changes across a number of important policy areas that will have a real impact on peoples’ lives.”


A key reform of this Bill is that it will facilitate the introduction of new legal partnerships, which will enable barristers and solicitors to jointly provide legal services for the first time, thereby offering a greater range of services and legal expertise to their clients.”


There are a number of changes critical to court process reform which will yield significant efficiencies for the benefit of the Courts Service and users of court services in the Bill, following through on a commitment in Justice Plan 2021.


This will facilitate centralisation and automation of certain court offices and processes.


The Bill also proposes improvements to the naturalisation process for children born in Ireland to parents who are not Irish citizens and to the ‘continuous residence’ requirement for all persons applying for naturalisation.


Commenting on the legislative changes being proposed, Minister James Browne said,


I know it has been a cause for concern for some that children born in Ireland to non-Irish parents do not have an automatic entitlement to citizenship. We fully respect the change made by the Irish people in the 2004 referendum; however, we believe that providing a shorter pathway to citizenship is the right thing to do for these children.


“We are reducing the residency requirement from 5 years to 3 years.  The Bill will also set out clear procedures that will apply where a citizenship application is made on behalf of a child.”


Following court judgments on the continuous residence requirement, we are amending the continuous residence requirement to allow for total absences of up to 70 days from the State in the year preceding the citizenship application being made. Up to a further 30 days may also be allowed where necessitated by exceptional circumstances.”


In April, the Government approved increasing the number of judges in the High Court by five. This Bill will give legal effect to that commitment. Commenting on the increase in judicial numbers, Minister Humphreys said,


We are increasing the number of judges in the High Court by five to ensure sufficient resources are available to address areas of immediate need within the Court, including the pressures on criminal justice arising from Covid and the issues arising in terms of Strategic Infrastructure Development.


“It is one of the largest increases in judges approved in recent memory and a very significant investment by the State in judicial resources.”


A General Scheme of a Courts and Civil Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill was first approved for drafting in January 2020. That work was placed on hold due to changing priorities over the past year. This revised General Scheme approved by Government today includes 61 Heads, 32 of which are new. It reflects new priorities and emerging developments in the intervening period. A copy of the General Scheme can be found at the following link:


The Department of Justice will now work closely with the Office of the Attorney General to progress the Bill to ensure publication in the Summer Session.




Notes for Editors:


The General Scheme includes amendments to provisions in court-related Acts that will facilitate centralisation and automation of certain court offices and processes and other amendments in relation to the Intoxicating Liquor Acts, the Licensing Acts 1833 to 2018, the Land and Conveyancing Reform Act 2009 and the Civil Legal Aid Act 1995.


It also contains amendments to the Legal Service Regulatory Act 2015, the Civil Law and Criminal Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2020, the Bankruptcy Act 1988, the Guardianship of Infants Act 1964, the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956, the Immigration Act 2004, the International Protection Act 2015, the Gaming and Lotteries Act 1956, the Judicial Council Act 2019 and the Family Law (Maintenance of Spouses and Children) Act 1976.