31st January 2022

The Isle of Man’s Minister for Home Affairs and Justice and Constitutional Affairs, the Hon Jane Poole-Wilson MHK, announced in the House of Keys in January 2022 that the Rt Hon the Lord Garnier KC is to carry out an independent review of the legal services provided on the Island.  This announcement follows a report by the Standing Committee on Constitutional and Legal Affairs and Justice published in November 2020 making a number of recommendations to the Government on reforms to the Island’s legal services framework.

Lord Garnier’s independent review will consider in depth the full impact and consequences of the Committee’s recommendations in order to maintain the distinct character of the Island’s legal system and will review and make recommendations with regard to the reform of the current regulatory and legislative framework within which legal services are provided in the Isle of Man. He will be assisted by apolitical government officials in Douglas as well as Samantha O’Brien O’Reilly. Edward Garnier will be meeting judges, the Government Law Officers, the Director of Prosecutions, legal practitioners from the Island and elsewhere who practise there, politicians, service users and others interested in the subject of the Review. It is intended that the Review will be completed during the course of 2022.

The Minister’s statement:-

Mr President

Sometimes we, as politicians, can be accused of sitting on the fence.  In this case, Honourable Members, I think I can say with some certainty, that I have sat on both sides of the fence.

In April 2021, Tynwald debated a report and recommendations from your Constitutional and Legal Affairs and Justice Committee, of which I was the Chair.  The report considered the framework within which legal services are provided in the Isle of Man and concluded that reform was urgently needed.

A key part of the recommendations arising from the report was an independent review of legal services in the Isle of Man.  This report would consider the issues arising in the report and make recommendations for how change should be effected.

Those recommendations are now being driven forward by me, as Minister for Justice and Home Affairs, on behalf of the Council of Ministers.  On the other side of the fence. 

Mr President I am pleased to announce, that after much consideration, Lord Edward Garnier, KC has agreed to undertake the independent review.

Lord Garnier was called to the bar in 1976 and became King’s Counsel in 1995.  His principal areas of practice are Defamation & Media Law, Financial Crime, International & Human Rights Law and Public Law and Judicial Review.  He served as UK HM Solicitor General from 2010 to 2012 and is now in the House of Lords.

I believe he will carry out a thorough, balanced and impartial review of the areas highlighted by your Committee and identify how best they may be addressed. 

I am keen that Lord Garnier consider the views of a wide range of stakeholders as part of the review. 

I expect that the Judiciary, the Law Society and its members and her Majesty’s Solicitor General will be consulted.  I would also like to ensure that the views of those people who practise law here, but who are not members of the Manx Bar are also heard. 

I would also like to ensure that consumers of legal services, either members of the public or commercial entities are able to participate in the review too.  I think it is important to say that due to time constraints, not everyone may get to share their views or experiences in person, but we will ensure that all correspondence is considered.

Honourable Members, I will bring back the final timescales for conclusion of this important review to this Honourable Court and of course the final report will come back to this Court for debate.

Thank you Mr President.

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