Irish crack down on hard-sell adverts

ADVERTISING by solicitors in the Irish Republic, which began seven years ago, is to be curbed by the country's law society following complaints about the aggressive approach adopted by some lawyers.

A committee has been set up to examine the advertising issue and will publish guidelines, designed to eliminate some of the present excesses.

Irish business leaders and local councils have accused the profession of contributing to a “compensation culture” by allowing hard-sell advertising on accident claims.

The guidelines are expected to outlaw advertising by solicitors near hospital casualty wards, a practice which has concerned the society's director general Ken Murphy.

There will also be curbs on the “no foal, no fee” offered to accident victims, which critics say encourages opportunistic and spurious claims.

Pat O'Connor, a society council member, said tightening up the advertising regulations was now necessary.

“My main concern is for what is termed ambulance chasing, such as the dropping of business cards to accident victims,” he said.

“There is also some disquiet at the extent of advertising by members of the profession in the Golden Pages and the occasional advertisements for solicitors which appear on the backs of buses in Dublin.”

The current issue of Golden Pages carries 27 pages of advertisements for lawyers, compared to six for accountants, two for doctors and one for dentists.

A spokesman for the Irish Business and Employers' Confederation said although the numbers of industrial accidents in Ireland was no higher than elsewhere in Europe, claims for such accidents were 40 per cent higher than in the UK.

He put the blame on “ambulance chasing solicitors”.

The Irish Republic does not provide legal aid for civil cases, so the “no foal, no fee” is the only way some people can take legal action. However, the law society says the scheme should be restricted.