Law Society of Ireland highlights work done to keep vital legal services open during Covid-19 crisis; identifies learnings for future

The Law Society of Ireland has highlighted the work done by Government officials to ensure that vital legal services remained available to solicitors and their clients during the height of the Covid-19 crisis. The Society appeared before the Oireachtas Special Committee on Covid-19 Response today (9 September 2020) identified key learnings and improvements for future challenges.

Law Society President Michele O’Boyle said, “April marked a seismic shift in the manner in which justice is administered in the State with the commencement of remote hearings and recent months have seen a remarkable fast-forwarding of the adoption and implementation of technology across our profession.”

“It is evident, in the face of a pandemic which spread with such speed, that no State’s legislative framework, including ours, could have been fully prepared to deal with the challenges which would, and did, arise. Whilst acknowledging that everything was moving at speed to address a rapidly changing and uncertain environment, there are lessons to be learned and steps to be taken to ensure that, in the event of a similar crisis, a number of issues can be better addressed.”

The Law Society’s recommendations include:

  • Mitigating Constitutional and legal risk arising from swiftly enacted emergency legislation;
  • Enhancing the clarity of regulations and communications;
  • Investment in fit-for-purpose technology platforms, particularly in support of remote court hearings;
  • Investment in the Courts Service infrastructure, staff and other resources; and
  • Consistent application of robust safety measures for persons in custody and their solicitors in Garda stations.

Ms O’Boyle added, “As a profession, we – like many others – have had to adjust, adapt and respond quickly to the unprecedented challenge posed by Covid-19. The Law Society looks forward to continued constructive engagement and collaboration across the many evolving issues which we know will continue to challenge all of us over the coming months and beyond.”