Irish barrister hauled up before Tribunal for setting up Web site

Irish barrister Kieron Wood has been hauled before a Bar Council disciplinary tribunal for setting up a Web site on the Internet.

Wood, a former journalist who has been a barrister in Ireland since 1995, set up the site at the beginning of the year, despite a request from the Bar not to. It is understood that he was determined to take on the antiquated Irish “Bar library-system”.

Information in the site includes Wood's e-mail address and law library telephone number, his curriculum vitae, and several articles – including one asking if the Irish Bar is anti-competitive. Strict Bar Council rules prevent barristers from advertising for business.

Senior barrister John Coughlan from the Council's Professional Conduct Tribunal is now considering the issue.

Neither Bar Council director John Dowling nor Wood himself would comment on the issue while it was still in front of the tribunal.

And while a decision is expected to be made in late December, under Bar Council rules the conduct tribunal can choose not to make its decision public.

In England, around 20 Web sites have been set up by chambers in the last three years, and have proved popular, with hundreds of people accessing them each week.

While restrictions on English barristers advertising are not as strict as those in Ireland, Bar Council of England and Wales rules mean any Web site must still make it clear lay clients can not contact counsel direct.