APRIL 2022 – ARTICLES & ITEMS OF INTEREST
The Legal Quality Standard of Ireland
APRIL 2022 – ARTICLES & ITEMS OF INTEREST
SANCTIONS (RESTRICTIVE MEASURES) ON RUSSIA AND BELARUS OVER UKRAINE – LAW SOCIETY HAVE SET OUT THE STEPS TO BE FOLLOWED
Solicitors will no doubt already be aware of the new sanctions being introduced across the EU on Russia and Belarus over Ukraine. Sanctions have been a key tool in the fight against terrorism and typically are considered by firms in the context of their anti-money laundering (AML) compliance programmes.
The Law Society of Ireland has developed a webpage to help solicitors respond to the sanctions which are now rapidly increasing in number and scope. The webpage contains helpful resources and information to ensure compliance with sanctions.
It is stated “It is a criminal offence to not comply with these sanctions and failure to do so could also result in severe reputational damage. The legal profession also need to be extra alert due to the risk that countries/people subject to sanctions may start looking for ways to move assets to avoid sanctions. Solicitors should make compliance with these sanctions a top priority.
The webpage clearly sets out steps that have been designed to help sole practitioners and small/medium firms. The business model of these firms is typically national focused, for example, conveyances where the source of funds is mortgages from Irish pillar banks or the sale of property in Ireland. It is unlikely that these firms would need to screen every client against sanctions lists. Large firms will already have systems in place to screen clients via commercial providers.”
By following the steps set out on the webpage, your firm will have effectively developed an up-to-date sanctions risk assessment. It is important to capture the risks assessed and steps taken to be able to demonstrate compliance.
To view the webpage and the links see https://www.lawsociety.ie/Solicitors/Practising/sanctions#scope
LQSI – TAKING THE GREEN LEAD AND THE GREEN PRACTICE CHARTER
On the 27 April the LQSI gave a webinar on ‘Taking the Green Lead – how to implement sustainable practices in your Law Firm’.
Matters discussed at the webinar included Climate Crisis, Benefits of Sustainability, how to reduce energy consumption, sustainable procurement, reduction of paper waste, single use plastics, disposal of waste, sustainable travel, the steps you need to take to kick-start the Green Program and new LQSI Green Practice Charter.
If you missed this webinar, it is available to view in the LQSI members’ area.
To view this webinar see www.lqsi.ie
EMAIL ADDRESS AUTOCOMPLETING
O’Leary’s Insurance group have issued their second quarterly cyber matters newsletter of 2022. One of the items referred to therein relates to email addresses autocompleting.
The newsletter states one item in particular caught their attention in the recently published Data Protection Commissioners report — “The DPC has also seen a vast increase in the number of breaches caused by email correspondence issuing to an incorrect recipient due to the message service employed which predicts the recipient’s email address based on the first characters entered.”
O’Leary’s state “This is entirely relatable to most — and it is a setting that can be disabled for those that have concerns.”
To view this and other articles in the cyber matters newsletter see https://www.olearyinsurances.ie/contentFiles/newsFiles/Q2_2022_Cyber_Matters_Newsletter.pdf
CYBER ATTACKS ON THE UK LEGAL PROFESSION
In the UK Law Gazette, on 27 April, Michael Cross reported, “IT systems operated by the Bar Council and Bar Standards Board have been taken offline following the latest cyber-attack on the legal profession in London.”
He states “Law firms, barristers’ chambers and legal professional bodies are emerging as prime targets for malicious attacks, frequently with the aim of extorting money. Yesterday top-100 firm Ward Hadaway obtained a High Court injunction against ‘persons unknown’ who last month made a $6m (£4.75m) blackmail demand after confidential documents were obtained in a cyber-attack.
Criminal defence firm Tuckers Solicitors was last month fined £98,000 by the Information Commissioner’s Office for failing to secure sensitive court bundles that were later published on the dark web.”
To view this news article in full see https://www.lawgazette.co.uk/news/bar-left-reeling-from-malicious-cyber-attack/5112298.article and a related article see https://www.lawgazette.co.uk/news/ward-hadaway-blackmailed-after-cyber-attack/5112294.article
SICK LEAVE BILL 2022
On the 30 March 2022, it was announced, “The Sick Leave Bill 2022 was approved by Cabinet yesterday and will legislate for a statutory sick pay scheme for all employees, phased in over a four-year period.”
Under current arrangements, sick leave is provided to about half of all employees through their terms and conditions.
The draft Statutory Sick Pay scheme will introduce:
- Paid sick leave for up to 3 sick days per year. This is planned to increase to 5 days in 2024, 7 days in 2025 and 10 days in 2026.
- A rate of payment for statutory sick leave of 70% of normal wages to be paid by employers (up to a maximum €110 per day).
- A right for workers to take a complaint to the WRC where they are not provided with a company sick pay scheme.
To be entitled to paid sick leave under the new scheme, you must be working for your employer for at least 13 weeks. You will also need to be certified by a GP as unfit to work.
Employees’ Sick Pay entitlement starts as soon as the law is enacted. This is expected soon.
To view this recent announcement see https://www.enterprise.gov.ie/en/News-And-Events/Department-News/2022/March/2022033001.html
LSRA – ISSUES FIRST BI-ANNUAL COMPLAINTS REPORT FOR 2022
On the 7 April 2022, the LSRA published its first bi-annual report of 2022 into the operation of the independent complaints function of the Legal Services Regulatory Authority. This report documents trends, themes and statistics from 4 September 2021 to 4 March 2022.
It is reported 822 complaints were received, with 799 complaints relating to solicitors and 23 relating to barristers. With wills and probate, litigation, family law and conveyancing being the main areas resulting in complaints.
The 822 complaints can be broken down as follows:-
- 577 (70%) Alleged Misconduct
- 213 (26%) Alleged inadequate legal services
- 32 (4%) Alleged excessive costs (overcharging)
811 complaints were closed during the reporting period. [342 were closed pre-admissibility and 469 complaints were closed at or post admissibility].
The themes emerging from the complaints received include again:-
- Communication failures.
- Complaints about outstanding undertakings continue to increase – 209 complaints related to outstanding undertakings. — “The LSRA is therefore taking this opportunity to again remind solicitors about the importance of ensuring that undertakings are complied with in a timely fashion, that policies and procedures are put in place to manage compliance, and that correspondence following up on outstanding undertakings is not ignored.”
- The report also issues a reminder on advertising of legal services– “While legal practitioners are allowed to advertise their legal services, the LSRA would like to remind all legal practitioners that some prohibitions on the content and form of advertisements exist.”
The report also includes three case studies and several pages of statistical breakdown of complaints.
To review the detailed report in full see https://www.lsra.ie/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/LSRAComplaints_Report_1_2022_FINAL.pdf
LSRA REPORT – CASE STUDY HIGHLIGHTS THE IMPORTANCE OF ISSUING NOTICES RELATING TO COSTS
One of the case studies in the LSRA Bi-Annual report relates to a complaint about costs and highlights the importance of ensuring a client receives a notice relating to costs.
In the case study, it states the complainant complained that the fees charged by her solicitor in relation to the purchase of a property were excessive and that she did not receive an advance notice of costs from the solicitor in relation to the likely fees for the conveyancing services.
The solicitor could not demonstrate that he had provided the complainant with a notice setting out the costs likely to be incurred before commencing the delivery of legal services. The LSRA, directed the legal practitioner to pay the client a sum of approximately €1,000 as compensation,
Practitioners are reminded of the importance of ensuring that a client receives a notice of costs at the outset of the provision of legal services and the importance of ensuring that separate notices are provided in relation to separate areas of work carried out for a client. Where the legal practitioner becomes aware of any factor that would make the legal costs significantly greater than those previously indicated they must provide the client with an updated notice.
To view this case study in full see https://www.lsra.ie/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/LSRAComplaints_Report_1_2022_FINAL.pdf
LSRA REPORT – ADVERTISING OF LEGAL SERVICES
As referred to above the recent LSRA report references advertising of legal services.
“While legal practitioners are allowed to advertise their legal services, the LSRA would like to remind all legal practitioners that some prohibitions on the content and form of advertisements exist.
Prohibitions in the regulations include:
- The use of the phrases “no win no fee”, “no foal no fee” and “free first consultation” or similar in advertisements which refer to personal injuries as part of the legal services provided.
- Advertisements, which include an amount of possible damages for personal injury claims that are not based on the Personal Injuries Assessment Board Book of Quantum or Personal Injuries Guidelines issued by the Judicial Council, as applicable.
- Advertisements in any form in an inappropriate location such as a hospital, clinic, doctor’s surgery, funeral home, cemetery, crematorium or similar.
- Advertisements, which solicit, encourage or offer inducement to a person or a group to make claims for personal injuries or seek legal services in connection with such claims.
- Advertisements, which refer to the “success rate” of a legal practitioner.
Also not permitted under the regulations are advertisements, which are likely to bring the legal profession into disrepute; are in bad taste; reflect unfavourably on another legal practitioner; are false or misleading.
An advertisement must also state by whom it is published.”
To review the report in full see https://www.lsra.ie/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/LSRAComplaints_Report_1_2022_FINAL.pdf