The senior lawyer who oversees the preparation of cases in the High Court before they go to trial has said solicitors have been let down by the Law Society.  

The Master of the High Court Edmund Honohan SC said no spinning by the society could disguise the systemic failure of self regulation.

He said most solicitors must now realise they had been let down, not just by a few rogue negligent solicitors, but by the Law Society itself.

Mr Honohan called for a robust agency to punish and prosecute solicitors who abuse their privilege, overcharge or negligently cause loss.

In a lecture delivered to law students at University College Cork, Mr Honohan said they should remember that becoming an officer of the court was a privilege and not an entitlement.

He said the status of a solicitor as an officer of the court made a solicitor's undertaking the 'gold standard' of contractual obligations.    

When an officer of the court undertakes, he puts his official status on the line, he said.

Mr Honohan said a solicitor who defaults on an undertaking damages the entire profession and debases the currency.

He said it was an abuse of privilege for lawyers to use mumbo jumbo of the 'it's the law, you wouldn't understand' variety to keep the client at bay or perhaps to justify a heftier fee.

He criticised recent 'disinformation' from the Law Society in its references to the role of the President of the High Court in regulating solicitors.

He said the president only acts in cases which the society brings to his attention. To suggest otherwise was a blatant attempt to deflect criticism, he said.