MARCH 2022 – ARTICLES & ITEMS OF INTEREST
The Legal Quality Standard of Ireland
MARCH 2022 – ARTICLES & ITEMS OF INTEREST
2022 CPD CYCLE – eLEARNING LIMIT OF 50% REMOVED
In the Law Society eZine Issue 187 of the 22 March 2022, it stated the eLearning limit of 50% (modified or otherwise) will be removed for the 2022 CPD Cycle. Consequently, solicitors may complete the entire 2022 CPD requirement of 20 hours (including minimum requirements in the categories of ‘Management and Professional Development Skills’ and ‘Regulatory Matters’) online. This derogation expires on 31 December 2022, and does not set any precedent in respect of 2023 or subsequent years.
The decision has been taken in light of the current circumstances with regard to Covid-19, which has seen very high case numbers in recent weeks.
The eZine also states if clarification on this or any other aspect of the current CPD Scheme is required, to contact the CPD Scheme Unit for assistance.
GUIDANCE NOTE – NEGATIVE INTEREST RATES
In this month’s Law Society Gazette, John Elliot, Registrar of Solicitors and Director of Regulation has written a guidance note titled ‘Negative-Interest-Rate Bank Charges’.
Negative-interest-rate bank charges on the client account are recoverable from the client, as it is a cost incurred through holding funds on behalf of a client in the course of providing legal services.
The Solicitors Accounts (Amendment) Regulations 2021 (SI 463 of 2021) came into operation on 1 October 2021. The amendment regulations introduced regulation 8A.
The changes as introduced by regulation 8A are as follows:
1) The introduction of the definition of the term ‘interest charge’ to the regulations,
2) The introduction of an express provision to permit agreements in writing to be made with clients for the manner in which interest charges can be discharged,
3) To confirm that any interest charges relating to clients’ moneys and insolvency arrangement moneys are to be disbursed from the solicitor’s office account, or refunded from the solicitor’s office account if applied to the solicitor’s client account or insolvency arrangement account.
[‘a solicitor should instruct their bank, in writing, that any interest charges should not be debited on their client account, and should be debited on their office account. Where a bank deducts the interest charges from a client account, including where they have been instructed to do otherwise, a solicitor should transfer such moneys from their office account to their client account in satisfaction of the application of any such interest charge.’]
4) To confirm that any moneys paid by the solicitor in satisfaction of any interest charge is outlay for the purposes of the regulations,
[‘Solicitors should be aware of their obligations under section 150 of the Legal Services Regulation Act 2015 in this respect, and prior notice under section 150 must be provided to the client in the same manner as would apply in respect of any other outlay. It should be noted that any amount of interest charge being recovered as an outlay from a client should be in reference to the amount of interest charge paid on behalf of that client to the bank.’]
5) To clarify that, notwithstanding any provision of the existing regulation 8, a solicitor is permitted to hold moneys they receive for, or on account of, a client in an account that is subject to interest charges, provided that the solicitor cannot open or hold moneys in an interest-bearing account at the bank to the practice of the solicitor.
Finally, John Elliot states ‘solicitors should ensure that there are consistent processes and procedures applied within the firm to cater for whichever method of recovery is preferred, and that the client is informed accordingly.’
To view this guidance note in full see:
HSA WORK SAFELY CHECKLISTS
The HSA has updated its work safely checklists and templates to correspond with the guidance in the Transitional Protocol.
New documents include a new Response Plan template, posters and a number of template checklists dealing with the following:-
- Dealing with a Suspected Case of COVID-19
- Cleaning and Disinfection
- Returning to the Office
- Rapid Antigen Diagnostic Tests
- Lead Worker Representatives
These templates have been prepared to help employers, business owners and managers to continue running their workplaces safely, and to help workers, in particular the Lead Worker Representative understand what they need to do to help prevent the spread of Covid-19 in the workplace.
PROTECTION FOR WHISTLEBLOWERS – UPCOMING CHANGES
In February 2022, Minister McGrath published the Protected Disclosures (Amendment) Bill 2022. Once enacted, the Bill will:
- Broaden the scope of the Protected Disclosures Act 2014 in relation to reporting of breaches of European Union law.
- Include protections for board members, shareholders, volunteers, unpaid trainees and job applicants who make a protected disclosure.
- Require organisations with more than 50 employees to have policies and processes for protected disclosures.
- Reverse the burden of proof for penalisation cases. This means the employer will need to prove that any alleged penalisation was not a direct result of the employee making a protected disclosure.
CODE OF PRACTICE ON SEXUAL HARASSMENT AND HARASSMENT AT WORK PUBLISHED
On the 9 March 2022, the Human Rights and Equality Commission prepared ‘The Code of Practice on Sexual Harassment and Harassment at Work’.
The code seeks to promote the development and implementation of policies and procedures that establish working environments free of harassment in which the dignity of everyone is respected.
The code aims to give practical guidance to employers, organisations, trade unions and employees on:
- What is meant by employment-related sexual harassment and harassment;
- How it can be prevented; and
- What steps ensure that adequate procedures are readily available to deal with the problem and to prevent its recurrence?
To view this Code of Practice see https://www.ihrec.ie/documents/code-of-practice-on-sexual-harassment-and-harassment-at-work-2/