An independent review of the Isle of Man’s legal services is now under way.

It was ordered by Tynwald after its constitutional and legal affairs and justice committee proposed sweeping reforms.

It said the Manx legal system was ripe for reform.

Among its most radical recommendations was that disciplinary system for advocates should be reformed and the Advocates’ Disciplinary Tribunal in its current form should be abolished.

In its place should be a more transparent, user-friendly complaints system.

Read our story from January by clicking here.

The review began last month and is being carried out QC Lord Edward Garnier, an expert in public law and judicial review.

The committee report said it should be possible for legal practitioners to be given automatic temporary licences, giving them right of audience in Isle of Man courts, if they are briefed by a Manx advocate.

It also said that registered legal practitioners should be classed as Manx advocates with a restricted licence, based on demonstrable experience and expertise, the report recommended.

And it said a system of continuous professional development should be introduced.

The Isle of Man Law Society is firmly in the spotlight since the committee suggested that it should not be the representative body – similar to a trade union of for 320 lawyers and 26 students – as well as the regulator.

The Law Society has now published a statement welcoming the review and its tone certainly seems to be at odds with the view of the committee, which said the system was in need of urgent reform.

Its president, Kathryn Clough, said the society was looking forward to ‘engaging with the process as part of its ongoing commitment to promoting the highest professional standards and rule of law’.

She said: ‘I am pleased to say the Isle of Man is a proud independent jurisdiction with a well-regulated legal services profession which constantly operates to a high standard.

‘Of course, just because our legal system is alive and well and serves its people well, does not mean we should not strive for improvements, while maintaining the distinct character of the island’s legal system.

‘It is vitally important to ensure we continue to meet the needs of those who use Manx legal services today and in the future, whether they be local residents or international clients.

‘Equally, it is important we maintain high standards of competence for those entering the Isle of Man legal profession and that graduates wishing to return to the island to practice law and qualify as Manx advocates can do so without their development being hindered.

‘The Isle of Man and the Manx Bar have changed beyond all recognition in the last 30 years but the pillars of public protection and access to justice for all remain the society’s foundation. We are therefore keen to engage fully with any review.’

She said the society would be making a submission to Lord Garnier soon.

To see how to submit a view, click here.