Ireland International Trade in Legal Services

Ireland International Trade in Legal Services


Is there legislation governing the legal sector

Solicitors Act, 1954 as amended by subsequent Acts (1960, 1994, 2002) and Civil Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2008

Under what title do lawyers practise?

 Solicitor or Barrister

How does an individual lawyer obtain a "licence" to practise law? How often must this be renewed?












Solicitors: In order to become a solicitor in Ireland, it is necessary to serve a period of apprenticeship for three years and complete courses of study organised by the Law Society of Ireland. To be admitted to the courses of study, it is necessary to have a university degree or its equivalent or be a barrister or equivalent – this is known as the Preliminary Examination requirement. On meeting these requirements, it is necessary to complete the Society’s Final Examination and completion of the professional course which consists of 14 weeks of intensive lectures followed by examination and 18 months in-house training as part of the apprenticeship of a student. Finally there is a further requirement to complete an Advanced Course which consists of seven weeks of intensive lectures followed by examination. Once this section is completed and competency has been demonstrated in the Irish language, a person is entitled to be admitted to the roll of solicitors.  Barristers: The Honorable Society of King’s Inns provides post-graduate legal training, leading to the award of the degree of barrister-at-law. The King’s Inns operates as a voluntary society under the control of the Benchers of the Honorable Society of King’s Inns who are members of the judiciary and senior barristers. Entrance to the degree course is by means of an entrance examination for graduates of the King’s Inns Diploma in Legal Studies or law graduates. The length of the Diploma in Legal Studies course was and remains two years but the Barrister-at Law Course, which was for two years, is from October 2004 to become a more intensive one year course. In addition to completing the course of studies prescribed, students of the King’s Inns must demonstrate their competency in the Irish language and attend ten dinings for each of the two years of the barrister-at-law course. On successful completion of the degree course, students are called to the Bar in the Supreme Court by the Chief Justice.  There are further requirements before barristers can engage in paid legal work.

Does this entitle the holder to practise throughout the country? If the law license only permits one to practice on a sub-national level, please explain the jurisdictional limits

There is a single national licence to practise as a solicitor or barrister in Ireland.



Are there certain activities that are "reserved" to those who are licensed to practise law in the jurisdiction?




The following acts are reserved to solicitors under the Solicitors Act 1954: (a) the drawing or preparing of a document relating to real or personal estate or any legal proceeding, (b) the procuring or attempting to procure the execution by an Irish citizen of a document relating to (i) real or personal estate, or movable or immovable property, situate or being outside the State and the United Kingdom, or (ii) any legal proceeding, actual or in contemplation, of which the subject-matter is any such estate or property, (c) the making of an application, or the lodging of a document for registration, under the Registration of Title Act, 1891, or any Act amending that Act, at the Land Registry or to or with a local registering authority, (d) the taking of instructions for, or drawing or preparing of, documents on which to found or oppose a grant of probate or letters of administration. Barristers have reserved rights to appear in the Irish courts.

Do you need to hold local nationality to be eligible to practise law?


What legal forms can lawyers work in? (e.g. self employment, partnership, limited liability partnership, multi-disciplinary partnership, incorporation)

Solicitors may practise as sole practitioners, in general or limited liability partnerships. Barristers may only work as sole practitioners.


What other ethical or regulatory requirements must a licensed lawyer comply with? 

The Law Society of Ireland maintains a code of conduct for solicitors and the Bar Council of Ireland has set out the code of conduct for barristers.

Do law firms need to receive a "license" (or permission/approval) to practice law?

Law firms do not require a separate licence in Ireland but there are specific firm related rules in relation to solicitors accounts and compensation fund.

Which authority issues licences? Are there different authorities for individuals and firms? 

The Law Society of Ireland ( issues licences to solicitors and the Bar Council licences barristers.



Are there any explicit rules or restrictions other than visas on fly in fly out practice of law? Ie. Do you need to obtain a licence for temporary practice?

EEA lawyers are permitted to practise in Ireland on a temporary basis without needing to register.

Can a foreign lawyer obtain a visa to visit clients or to market but not to practice?

Lawyers visiting Ireland may obtain a business visa which permits a service supplier to visit but not to make direct sales to the public.

Can a foreign lawyer obtain a licence to establish and practise as a foreign legal consultant and what is the scope of this limited licence?

Foreign lawyers may practise in Ireland under their home country title in the law of their home country or public international law.  EEA lawyers may establish under their home title and additionally practise local law in association with a Irish lawyer.

Are there any conditions that must be fulfilled once a foreign lawyer has been granted a limited licence (e.g. residency requirement)

An EEA lawyer must practise under his home title, comply with the Irish solicitors' or barristers' code of conduct (depending on which body he/she has registered with) and must maintain adequate professional indemnity insurance.

Are there any conditions that must be fulfilled for a foreign lawyer to qualify for a limited licence? (e.g. prior practice)

Not for non-EEA lawyers. An EEA lawyer must hold EEA nationality and an EEA legal qualification

Are foreign lawyers permitted to undertake arbitration and mediation? The 2010 Arbitration Act in Ireland is based on the UNCITRAL model. The law provides for the parties to agree to appoint a single arbitrator and there are no prohibitions on this being a foreign lawyer.
Are foreign lawyers allowed to appear in court under any circumstances?

European Union/EFTA and Swiss lawyers may all appear in court provided they do so in association with a local lawyer on a purely ad hoc and very occasional basis, in accordance with expertise. Other nationals are not permitted to appear in court.

Can foreign lawyers requalify as local lawyers?



EU lawyers  may fully requalify as Irish lawyers following the European Establishment Directive 98/5/EC, either by examination or by assimilation over a three year period of continuous and effective practice.  Certain non-EU qualified lawyers may be able to sit the transfer test if their jurisdictions have reciprocal arrangements (New South Wales, New Zealand, Pennsylvania, New York and California), lawyers from elsewhere will need to undertake the full qualification process.


Can a foreign law firm obtain a licence to open an office?

Foreign law firms may establish in Ireland to provide legal advisory services in home country law and international law and do not need a licence to do so. EEA law firms may additionally provide legal advisory services in Irish law provided they work in association with Irish qualified lawyers and must register with the Law Society.

Even if a foreign law firm does not require a legal licence must they register in some form in order to set up an office? (e.g. with a ministry of company affairs etc)

A foreign business establishing in Ireland would need to complete the relevant registration, tax and employment formalities.
Are there different types of foreign law firm 'licence'  (e.g. Joint Law Venture, stand alone foreign licence etc)


Is there a quota on the number of licences available?


Are there geographical restrictions on foreign firm licences or on the number of branches a foreign firm can have?


Are there "scope of practice" rules that apply directly to foreign law firms (as opposed to lawyers themselves)? (e.g. home, host, international law), if so, what are they? There are no scope of practice rules that apply to firms as opposed to individual lawyers.
Are there restrictions on the corporate form a foreign law firm can take? EEA law firms are subject to the same rules on corporate form as local law firms.
Are there rules about the name a foreign law firm can take? The Establishment Directive (98/5/EC) makes it clear that EU law firms may use the name of their law firm they use in their home country. The host Member State may require that, in addition mention is made of the legal form of the grouping in the home Member State and/or of the names of any members of the grouping practising in the host Member State.
What entity grants a 'license' to a foreign law firm? If that entity is on the Internet, please provide the URL Law firms from EEA jurisdictions must register with the Law Society of Ireland.


Are there restrictions on the ownership share of foreign lawyers in a law firm?

There are no restrictions on the ownership share of EEA lawyers in an Irish law firm.

May a domestic lawyer be employed by a foreign lawyer or law firm?

There is no prohibition on employment of an Irish lawyer by an EEA lawyer or law firm.

Can a domestic lawyer enter into partnership with a foreign lawyer?

An Irish solicitor may enter a partnership with a lawyer from an EEA state.

Can a domestic lawyer or domestic law firm employ a foreign lawyer?

Yes but only under their home title.



Other useful sources or comments or links

Bar Council of Ireland:
Law Society of Ireland: