Irish Legal Services Regulatory Authority to take over regulation of legal advertising

On the 18th December 2020 the Irish Legal Services Regulatory Authority (LSRA) took over the role or regulating advertising by legal practitioners, a role previously held by the Law Society (for solicitors). The rule change comes about under the Legal Services Regulation Act 2015 (Advertising) Regulations 2020, which applies to print, audio, visual and online advertising.

The regulations apply to solicitors, firms of solicitors and barristers as well as limited liability partnerships (LLPs) who advertise their legal services, and to groups of legal practitioners, who share a facility, premises or cost of practice, who advertise themselves as a group.

The regulations, which allow the advertisement of legal services, currently largely reinforce prohibitions that were already in place, as well as creating new content restrictions.

Prohibitions include:

  • Using phrases such as ‘no win no fee’ in advertisements which refer to personal injury work.
  • Advertisements which include possible damages for personal injury claims that are not based on the Book of Quantum produced by the Personal Injuries Assessment Board or guidelines by another statutory body.
  • Advertising in inappropriate locations.
  • Advertising referring to a practitioners ‘success rate’.

Advertisements must also make clear who they are published by.

Consumers will be free to notify the LSRA of any breach of the regulations. The LSRA may then carry out investigations based on this, or carry out investigations of their own volition.

  • The LSRA may decide that a particular advertisement contravenes the regulations or the Legal Services Regulation Act 2015.
    If so, the LSRA will give the legal practitioner time to restrict the publication of the advertisement or take other steps it directs.
    The LSRA can apply to the High Court for an order prohibiting a legal practitioner from contravening the regulations.

Read the LSRA’s press release on the changes here, or the updated statutory instruments here.

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