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07 July 2015

Statement from The Law Society Of Northern Ireland

The Law Society of Northern Ireland (the “Law Society”) is the regulatory body for solicitors in Northern Ireland and the Law Society discharges this duty in the public interest.

The scope and powers of the Law Society to regulate solicitors is in accordance with the Solicitors (NI) Order 1976 and regulations made there under. The powers contained therein enable the Law Society to undertake investigations into financial matters within solicitors’ firms.

In January 2015, following a self-report made by Tughans, the Law Society commenced an inquiry into the circumstances which led to the resignation of Ian Coulter from Tughans. The Law Society has satisfied itself that any funds in question are secure whilst the investigation is on-going. 

The inquiry has been conducted in accordance with procedures designed to ensure the proper discharge of the Law Society’s regulatory duties.  These procedures are to safeguard the public interest. It is critical to protect the integrity of any investigation and fairness to all parties.  The Law Society does not have a wider remit to investigate individuals who are not solicitors.

Mr Coulter did not renew his practising certificate in January 2015 and therefore is not practising as a solicitor in Northern Ireland.

However, Mr Coulter remains on the roll of solicitors in Northern Ireland and therefore remains subject to the Regulations of the Law Society of Northern Ireland. 

The Law Society calls for independent TD, Mick Wallace or any other person with relevant information, to make available to the PSNI and Garda Siochana all information or evidence he has to substantiate the new and serious allegations made by him in the Dáil.  Matters pertaining to the improper conduct of a solicitor or solicitors should also be provided to the Law Society. 

The Law Society will co-operate with any police investigation into these new and serious allegations which are beyond the remit of the Law Society’s powers.

Upon conclusion of its inquiry, the Law Society shall take such action as is appropriate which may include referral to the independent Solicitors’ Disciplinary Tribunal empowered to impose financial penalties and/or striking off solicitors from the roll of solicitors.

The Law Society will make further comment when it is appropriate to do so.

ENDS