APRIL 2023 – ARTICLES & ITEMS OF INTEREST
The Legal Quality Standard of Ireland
APRIL 2023 – ARTICLES & ITEMS OF INTEREST
CPD REGIME FOR 2023 IS ANNOUNCED
On the 25 April 2023 the Education Committee of the Law Society published an update on the CPD regime for 2023.
It stated ‘While the Law Society expected to have the new regulations approved by now, this has regrettably not yet occurred. The Education Committee, on behalf of the Society, is aware that practitioners need and deserve certainty for 2023. Therefore, pending approval from the Department of Justice of the proposed CPD regulations, the Education Committee has directed that:
- 2023 shall proceed on the basis of the Solicitors (Continuing Professional Development) Regulations 2017 (minimum of 20 hours CPD comprising a minimum of three hours of management and professional development skills and a minimum of two hours of regulatory matters (if a practitioner fulfils the role of sole practitioner, compliance partner and/or anti-money laundering compliance partner however, the regulatory matters requirement is 3 hours, to include 2 hours accounting and anti-money laundering compliance);
- a minimum of five hours must be undertaken in-person, with the balance permitted to be undertaken online;
- anyone who can demonstrate to the CPD Scheme Unit that by the date of this update (25 April 2023) in which the CPD Regime for 2023 is announced, they had completed 25 hours on the basis of the expected regime for 2023, shall be permitted to carry forward five hours toward their 2024 CPD requirement; and
- all dispensations (including newly admitted, senior practitioners, maternity leave and carers leave) to continue as in preceding years.’
To view the above on the Law Society of Ireland website see https://www.lawsociety.ie/Solicitors/rules-legislation/CPD-Scheme/2023-cycle
Please note the LQSI has updated the CPD Compliance Plan and CPD Register 2023, they are now both available in the members’ area of the LQSI website.
NEW SOLICITOR ACCOUNT REGULATIONS
The Law Society has published new Solicitors Accounts Regulations which will come into operation on the 1 July 2023 replacing the current regulations issued in 2014.
The Law Society website states “The Society will continue to provide guidance on how to navigate the regulations in advance of them coming into force on the 1 July 2023”.
The regulations will impact solicitors, reporting accountants and Law Society investigations. See the following Law Society link setting out the key changes/updates https://www.lawsociety.ie/news/news/Stories/new-solicitors-accounts-regulations-in-force-from-1-july-2023/?filters=&location=&category=&area=#.ZEfhH3bMLIW
This month the Law Society has also published guidance for the profession on the Solicitors Accounts Regulations 2023, to view same see https://www.lawsociety.ie/Solicitors/rules-legislation/Financial-Regulation/solicitors-accounts-regulations-2023
LSRA PUBLISHES COMPLAINTS REPORT
On the 6 April 2023 the Legal Services Regulatory Authority (LSRA) published its first complaints report for 2023.
This report documents trends, themes and statistics from 3 September 2022 to 3 March 2023.
It is reported 595 complaints were received, with 576 complaints relating to solicitors and 19 relating to barristers.
The 595 complaints can be broken down as follows:-
- 374 (63%) Alleged Misconduct – broken down as follows:-
- Bringing the profession into disrepute – 150,
- Undertakings – 39,
- Failure to hand over – 36,
- Failure to communicate – 35,
- Failure to account – 27,
- Fraud or dishonestly – 21
- Other – 66.
- 195 (33%) Alleged inadequate standard
- 26 (4%) Alleged excessive costs (overcharging)
596 complaints were closed during the reporting period. [291 were deemed inadmissible, 226 were resolved or determined by the LSRA and 80 were withdrawn or deferred.]. Overall, legal practitioners were directed to pay a total of €43,700 in compensation to complainants.
The themes emerging from the complaints received include ‘Increase in legal practitioners engaging with informal resolutions’ and ‘Disputes over money the focus of many complaints’.
The report also includes five case studies and several pages of statistical breakdowns of complaints including reference to the various practice areas.
To view the report in detail see https://www.lsra.ie/wp-content/uploads/2023/04/LSRA-Complaints-Report-1-2023-FINAL.pdf
WORK LIFE BALANCE AND MISCELLANEOUS PROVISIONS ACT 2023
The Work Life Balance and Miscellaneous Provisions Act 2023 was signed into law by the President on the 4 April 2023, the Act has not yet commenced.
The Work Life Balance and Miscellaneous Provisions Act 2023 introduces:
- a right to take 5 days unpaid leave per year for medical care purposes for parents of children under 12, and carers;
- a right to take 5 days paid leave per year for victims of domestic violence;
- a right to request flexible working arrangements for parents and carers;
- a right to request remote working for all employees;
- a significant extension to the period in which new mothers are entitled to paid time off work to breastfeed (from 6 months to 2 years) and
- an amendment to existing maternity protection legislation to ensure transgender males who have obtained a gender recognition certificate and subsequently become pregnant fall within its scope.
All of the various provisions of the Act require Ministerial commencement orders before they become effective.
To view the act see https://www.oireachtas.ie/en/bills/bill/2022/92/
REFUSING CLIENTS WHOSE ACTIVITIES CONFLICT WITH SCIENTIFICALLY-SUPPORTED CLIMATE CHANGE TARGETS
On the 20 April 2023 the Irish Legal News ILN published an article stating:-
“The Law Society of England and Wales has assured law firms that they can refuse to advise clients whose activities conflict with scientifically-supported climate change targets.
In “milestone” guidance published yesterday, the Law Society encourages solicitors to “adopt a proportionate approach to climate change” and says climate issues “may be valid considerations” in determining whether to act for a new client.
The guidance urges firms to ensure their marketing does not “mischaracterise or overstate” their climate change targets, as this “has the potential to leave your organisation open to accusations of ‘greenwashing’” as well as breaches of regulatory guidance.
“If your law firm describes itself as sustainable, or providing sustainable legal services, or makes similar claims relating to its response to climate change, you need to consider whether those claims can stand up to external, objective scrutiny,” it warns.
A spokesperson for the Law Society told the Law Society Gazette: “We recognise the importance of access to justice being available to everyone and that lawyers can play an important role in advising heavy-emitting clients to help them transition to net zero.
“Individual solicitors and firms can accept or decline to represent clients as a basic regulatory fact, and we present this neutrally to the profession as something they can consider in a climate change context, as there is a lot of confusion around what approaches can be taken.”
To read this article in full see https://www.irishlegal.com/articles/english-law-firms-told-they-can-refuse-clients-who-contribute-to-climate-change#:~:text=The%20Law%20Society%20of%20England,scientifically%2Dsupported%20climate%20change%20targets.
WELLBEING – RISK ASSESSMENTS OF PSYCHOSOCIAL HAZARDS IN THE WORKPLACE
In this month’s Law Society Gazette Desi Vlahos writes a wellbeing article titled “The Firm”. Desi Vlahos is an Australian legal practitioner and mentor of practical legal training at the Leo Cussen Centre for Law, Victoria, Australia. She is also the CEO and founder of Wellceum, a workplace consultancy supporting legal and professional services to help manage psychosocial risk, improve employee resilience, and create visible social impact.
She states ‘Psychosocial hazards’ can include: • Job demands, • Low job control, • Poor support, • Lack of role clarity, • Workplace bullying, • Violence, • Isolation, • Harassment (including sexual harassment), • Poor change management, • Conflict or poor workplace relationships, • Poor physical environment, • Poor organisational justice, or • Traumatic events or material.
She concludes by writing “Conducting a thorough risk assessment of psychosocial hazards in the workplace is no longer an option for legal organisations – it’s a must. Lawyers want to work for organisations where individuals thrive. While there has been a lot of emphasis on the benefits of workplace mental-health initiatives, regulations do drive behavioural change in organisations. As talent acquisition and talent retention are notable drivers for adoption of risk management, reduced psychological injuries, increased social impact, and ethical business practices are all identified as key business drivers. A strong, supportive workplace – with a sense of shared purpose, clear objectives, manageable workload, and responsive leadership – can help people thrive in their personal lives as well as their careers. The long-term success of legal organisations may depend on whether they can rise to this challenge”.
To view this article in full, which also includes sections on:-
- Psychosocial risk management four step process,
- Where to start and
- Psychological harm or injuries from psychosocial hazard,
POSSIBLE CYBER TRENDS FOR 2023
O’Leary Insurances have this month published its quarterly newsletter.
This month is includes key learnings form the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) mid-term cyber review.
It emerges from the review that the Possible trends for 2023 include:
- Email servers — many still vulnerable (unpatched)
- Ransomware — trend to continue upward
- VPN / Firewall Exploits — poor patching policy
- Spearphishing— targeted and more sophisticated lures
- Zero Day Use — difficult to defend
The NCSC recommends the below mitigation measures: –
- Controlled Use of Administrator Privileges
- Maintenance, Monitoring & Analysis of Security Audit Logs
- Controlled Access Based on the Need to Know
- Account Monitoring & Control
O’Leary’s state “While much of the language used here is somewhat technical, it may form part of your next conversation with your cybersecurity provider, or it may even prompt you to engage with them to ensure you are prepared / aware of how these instances may occur.”
To view this item including the other items in the newsletter which includes cyber claim statistics and recent case studies of cyber incidents, see https://www.olearyinsurances.ie/contentFiles/newsFiles/Q2_2023_Cyber_Matters_Newsletter.pdf