127. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will clarify his reply to Parliamentary Question Nos. 509 and 573 of 16 January 2018 (details supplied), in view of press reports stating that the Legal Services Regulatory Authority has not yet got a permanent premises and will not be taking complaints until the summer of 2019. (Question 20603/18 asked on 10 May 2018)

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): The Legal Services Regulatory Authority has been established on a firm statutory basis under the Legal Services Regulation Act 2015 its establishment day for that purpose having been 1 October 2016. The Authority, which is independent in the performance of its functions under the 2015 Act, has convened regularly since its inaugural meeting on 26 October 2016 and completed a whole series of statutory public consultations and reports that have been laid before the Houses. As the Deputy will be aware, I have more recently set out these and other details of the progress being made by the Authority in the ongoing roll-out of its functions in my Written Reply to her Question No. 557 of 18 April 2017.

As I have conveyed on that occasion, the challenge has been to ensure that the roll-out of the various components of the Authority’s regulatory functions in a legally robust manner can be aligned, to the satisfaction of the Authority, with its anticipated working resources as an independent regulator. While the Authority may not yet have taken possession of what is to be a permanent Head Office, its work towards the roll-out of its remaining functions has undoubtedly entered a new and more intensive phase with the appointment last autumn of its first full-time Chief Executive, Dr. Brian Doherty, and its securing at that time of enhanced, serviced office accommodation.

This is all the more evident from the Authority’s recent submission under the 2015 Act of its first Strategic Plan for the years 2018-2020 which sets out its approach to the coming into operation of its remaining functions. I have recently laid the Plan before each House of the Oireachtas in the required manner while the Authority, for its part, has made it publicly available on its website www.LSRA.ie. The Strategic Plan sets out the Authority’s key priorities and objectives for the next three years including indicative timelines for the coming into operation of its remaining functions as an independent regulator.  Crucially, the Plan also covers the matching development of the organisational capacities and office and staffing resources of the Authority essential to effective delivery. This, of course, includes the coming on stream of its public complaints functions which the Authority anticipates during the first half of 2019.

My Department will, therefore, continue to work closely with the Authority under its mandate of establishment as an independent regulator to enable it to come into substantive regulatory mode over the coming period as set out under its Strategic Plan for 2018-2020.