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Legal Practitioners (Irish Language) Act 2008

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Legal Practitioners (Irish Language) Act 2008
Number 12 of 2008
LEGAL PRACTITIONERS (IRISH LANGUAGE) ACT 2008
ARRANGEMENT OF SECTIONS
Section
1. Establishment of Irish Language Register (King’s Inns).
2. Establishment of Irish Language Register (Law Society).
3. Amendment of section 43 (exemptions for practising barristers) of Solicitors Act 1954.
4. Repeals.
5. Short title and collective citation.
Acts Referred to
Legal Practitioners (Qualification) Act 1929
1929, No. 16
Solicitors Act 1954
1954, No. 36
Solicitors Acts 1954 to 2002
Solicitors (Amendment) Act 1994
1994, No. 27
Number 12 of 2008
LEGAL PRACTITIONERS (IRISH LANGUAGE) ACT 2008
AN ACT TO PROMOTE THE BETTER USE OF THE IRISH LANGUAGE BY LEGAL PRACTITIONERS AND THE PROVISION OF LEGAL SERVICES THROUGH IRISH AND FOR THAT PURPOSE TO PROVIDE FOR COURSES OF STUDY AND THE ESTABLISHMENT OF REGISTERS BY THE HONORABLE SOCIETY OF KING’S INNS AND THE LAW SOCIETY OF IRELAND, TO REPEAL THE LEGAL PRACTITIONERS (QUALIFICATION) ACT 1929, TO AMEND THE SOLICITORS ACT 1954 AND TO PROVIDE FOR RELATED MATTERS.
[9th July, 2008]
BE IT ENACTED BY THE OIREACHTAS AS FOLLOWS:
Establishment of Irish Language Register (King’s Inns).
1.— (1) In this section—
“ advanced course ” means the course provided by the Council under subsection (4);
“ Council ” means Council of the Honorable Society of King’s Inns;
“ Minister ” means Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform;
“ Register ” means Register established under subsection (9).
(2) The Council shall have regard to the status of the Irish language as the first official language and, in particular, shall in so far as it is reasonable for it to do so, seek to ensure that an adequate number of barristers-at-law are competent in the Irish language so as to be able to practise law through the Irish language as well as through the English language.
(3) (a) The Council shall provide a course of instruction in Irish legal terminology and the understanding of legal texts in the Irish language to all persons attending the degree course of barrister-at-law. Such course shall not be subject to examination and shall be undertaken by all such persons (other than those who have undertaken or are undertaking the course referred to in subsection (4)) with the aim of enabling the identification through the medium of Irish of a legal service that is required and, where appropriate, facilitating the referral to a practitioner who is competent to conduct the case through the Irish language.
(b) Any person attending the degree course of barrister-at-law who, before the repeal by this Act of the Legal Practitioners (Qualification) Act 1929 , had complied with section 3 of that Act shall be deemed to have attended the course referred to in paragraph (a).
(c) Any person who completed the degree course of barrister-at-law before the repeal by this Act of the Legal Practitioners (Qualification) Act 1929 , who had not complied with section 3 of that Act, shall be deemed to have complied with that section.
(4) The Council shall provide an advanced course for the practice of law through the Irish language as an optional subject for those attending the degree course of barrister-at-law.
(5) The advanced course may, in addition to being an optional subject in the barrister-at-law degree course, be made available to such other persons as the Council shall determine from time to time, including but not limited to practising barristers who wish to develop or retain a level of competence to practise through the Irish language.
(6) Before being admitted to the advanced course, an applicant for that course may be required by the Council to establish that he or she has reached a general level of competence and proficiency in the Irish language.
(7) The Council shall, at least once a year, hold an examination in the practice of law through the Irish language.
(8) A person shall not be eligible to sit an examination under subsection (7), unless he or she has undertaken the advanced course.
(9) The Council shall establish and maintain a Register, to be known in the Irish language as Clár na Gaeilge (Óstaí an Rí) and in the English language as the Irish Language Register (King’s Inns).
(10) The Council shall enter on the Register the name and contact details of a barrister-at-law who has passed an examination under—
(a) subsection (7), or
(b) under section 40(2A)(g) (inserted by section 2 of this Act) of the Solicitors Act 1954 .
(11) The Council shall ensure that—
(a) the Register is kept up to date, and is amended from time to time for that purpose, and
(b) a copy of the Register (as so amended) is made available to the Law Society of Ireland.
(12) The Council shall, at all reasonable times, make available for public inspection without charge at the offices of the Honorable Society of King’s Inns—
(a) a copy of the Register, and
(b) a copy of the Irish Language Register (Law Society),
and that duty may be complied with by making those copies available on the website of the Honorable Society of King’s Inns.
(13) (a) Not later than 31 March in each year, the Council shall furnish a report in writing in both the Irish language and the English language to the Minister on the operation of this section during the preceding year.
(b) A report under paragraph (a) shall contain details of—
(i) the number of persons taking the advanced course,
(ii) the number of persons who sat the examination under subsection (7),
(iii) the number of persons who passed the examination under subsection (7), and
(iv) such other information as the Minister may from time to time request.
(c) As soon as practicable after the Council furnishes a report under paragraph (a), the Minister shall lay a copy of it before each House of the Oireachtas.
Establishment of Irish Language Register (Law Society).
2.— Section 40 of the Solicitors Act 1954 is amended—
(a) by inserting the following subsection after subsection (2)—
“(2A) (a) In this subsection—
‘ advanced course’ means the course provided by the Society under paragraph (d);
‘ Minister’ means Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform;
‘ Professional Practice Course’ means a vocational course for the education or training of persons seeking to be admitted as solicitors;
‘ Register’ means Register established under paragraph (i).
(b) The Society shall have regard to the status of the Irish language as the first official language and, in particular, shall in so far as it is reasonable for it to do so, seek to ensure that an adequate number of solicitors are competent in the Irish language so as to be able to practise law through the Irish language as well as through the English language.
(c) (i) The Society shall provide a course of instruction in Irish legal terminology and the understanding of legal texts in the Irish language to all persons undertaking the Professional Practice Course. Such course shall not be subject to examination and shall be undertaken by all such persons (other than those who have undertaken or are undertaking the course referred to in paragraph (d)) with the aim of enabling the identification through the medium of Irish of a legal service that is required and, where appropriate, facilitating the referral to a practitioner who is competent to conduct the case through the Irish language.
(ii) Any person undertaking the Professional Practice Course who, before the commencement of section 2 of the Legal Practitioners (Irish Language) Act 2008, had passed both of the examinations in the Irish language provided for by regulations made under subsection (3) of this section shall be deemed to have attended the course referred to in subparagraph (i).
(d) The Society shall provide an advanced course for the practice of law through the Irish language as an optional subject for those pursuing the Professional Practice Course.
(e) The advanced course may, in addition to being an optional subject in the Professional Practice Course, be made available to such other persons as the Society shall determine from time to time, including but not limited to solicitors who wish to develop or retain a level of competence to practise through the Irish language.
(f) Before being admitted to the advanced course, an applicant for that course may be required by the Society to establish that he or she has reached a general level of competence and proficiency in the Irish language.
(g) The Society shall, at least once a year, hold an examination in the practice of law through the Irish language.
(h) A person shall not be eligible to sit an examination under paragraph (g), unless he or she has undertaken the advanced course.
(i) The Society shall establish and maintain a Register, to be known in the Irish language as Clár na Gaeilge (An Dlí-Chumann) and in the English language as the Irish Language Register (Law Society).
(j) The Society shall enter on the Register the name and contact details of a solicitor who has passed an examination under—
(i) paragraph (g), or
(ii) section 1 (7) of the Legal Practitioners (Irish Language) Act 2008.
(k) The Society shall ensure that—
(i) the Register is kept up to date, and is amended from time to time for that purpose, and
(ii) a copy of the Register (as so amended) is made available to the Honorable Society of King’s Inns.
(l) The Society shall, at all reasonable times, make available for public inspection without charge at its offices—
(i) a copy of the Register, and
(ii) a copy of the Irish Language Register (King’s Inns),
and that duty may be complied with by making those copies available on its website.
(m) (i) Not later than 31 March in each year, the Society shall furnish a report in writing in both the Irish language and the English language to the Minister on the operation of this subsection during the preceding year.
(ii) A report under subparagraph (i) shall contain details of—
(I) the number of persons taking the advanced course,
(II) the number of persons who sat the examination under paragraph (g),
(III) the number of persons who passed the examination under paragraph (g), and
(IV) such other information as the Minister may from time to time request.
(n) As soon as practicable after the Society furnishes a report under paragraph (m)(i), the Minister shall lay a copy of it before each House of the Oireachtas.”,
and
(b) by deleting subsection (3).
Amendment of section 43 (exemptions for practising barristers) of Solicitors Act 1954.
3.— Section 43 (inserted by section 51 of the Solicitors (Amendment) Act 1994 ) of the Solicitors Act 1954 , is amended by substituting the following subsection for subsection (4):
“(4) A person to whom this section applies shall not be required to undertake a course of instruction under section 40(2A)(c)(i) (inserted by section 2 of the Legal Practitioners (Irish Language) Act 2008), if he or she—
(a) has undertaken a course of instruction provided for under section 1 of the Legal Practitioners (Irish Language) Act 2008, or
(b) has passed, or was, immediately before the commencement of the Legal Practitioners (Irish Language) Act 2008, exempted from passing any examination in the Irish language prescribed by the Chief Justice under section 3 of the Legal Practitioners (Qualification) Act 1929 .”.
Repeals.
4.— The following are repealed:
(a) the Legal Practitioners (Qualification) Act 1929 ,
(b) section 40(6) of the Solicitors Act 1954 , and
(c) in so far as it is not already repealed, section 43(2) of the Solicitors Act 1954 (inserted by section 51 of the Solicitors (Amendment) Act 1994 ).
Short title and collective citation.
5.— (1) This Act may be cited as the Legal Practitioners (Irish Language) Act 2008.
(2) The Solicitors Acts 1954 to 2002, section 2 of this Act and this subsection may be cited together as the Solicitors Acts 1954 to 2008 and shall be read together as one.