The Director General of the Law Society has said the independent oversight model for the legal profession - which was unveiled by the Government this afternoon - is a matter of concern.
Speaking about the new Legal Services Regulation Bill, Ken Murphy said the legal profession is not opposed to change and had known an independent legal services authority was coming.
However, he said the Minister for Justice had, without consultation, chosen a model quite fundamentally different to that recommended by the Competition Authority in its 2006 report.
He said the model, which is "unprecedented in the EU and North America," raised a number of concerns, and had been rejected after consideration by the authorities in England and Wales due to worries about its impact on the independence of the profession and costs.
Although he has yet to see the bill, Mr Murphy said did seem that the ultimate decision-maker under the new model would be the Minister for Justice, and this was a matter of concern.
In England and Wales, he said, appointments to the independent oversight body are kept at arms length from ministers, but there was no safeguard like that in this bill.
The Legal Services Regulatory Authority would be independent body made up of 11 members.
It would be made up of two members of the Law Society, two members of the Bar Council, one legal costs accountant, one ministerial appointee and five lay people.
The individual appointed by Government would be on the advice of the minister.
Launching the bill today, Minister Alan Shatter said criticism he would be influencing the regulatory body was "so far from reality to be completely absurd".
Minister said the Legal Services Regulation Bill would "blow the cobwebs" out of the legal profession.
He said that the Cabinet had decided to publish the 260-page Bill by Monday and described it as a very substantial reform package.
The Bill also allows for barristers and solicitors to work in partnership, will remove the obligation for anyone to wear wigs or gowns in court and for the first time allow solicitors and not just barristers to be appointed as Senior Counsel.
Mr Shatter said reform of the legal services was a key commitment under the European Union/International Monetary Fund deal and formed part of the Programme for Government.