Gibraltar’s parliament has passed a new Legal Services Act, to modernize the legal framework for legal professionals.
The Government said the new law replaces existing legislation based on provisions that are 50 years old. Announcing the new regulatory framework, Gibraltar’s Government and its Bar Council said the Act, when it enters into force, will “ensure a more comprehensive, modern, and effective regulatory system.”
The new law makes a number of changes to the existing regulatory framework, including providing, for the first time, a full definition of legal services. The Act provides for the registration of persons authorized to offer legal services and establishes an independent Legal Services Regulatory Authority. Further, the Act places the Bar Council on a statutory footing as Gibraltar’s “Law Council.”
The new law will apply to all persons providing legal services in Gibraltar, and not just lawyers working in private practice. As such, in-house counsel in industry, government lawyers, law-costs draftsmen, legal executives, and law firms are specifically covered in law for the first time.
Work is already underway on secondary legislation to ensure the Act can fully achieve its objectives. This work includes a recent consultation undertaken by the Bar Council for a code of conduct. It is expected the legislation will commence, in full, in the early Spring of 2018.
Commenting on the new Act, Keith Azopardi, Chairman of the Bar Council, said: “The passing of this Act by parliament is a significant step in ensuring that Gibraltar achieves a more modern and comprehensive system of regulation for the provision of legal services in Gibraltar. The Bar Council warmly welcomes this, and looks forward to working with the government to ensure that all is in place to commence the legislation as soon as is practicable.”