A lawyer tells the Law Society that ‘no comment’ face masks could be a violation of regulations

A criminal defense attorney has been told by the Law Society of a possible violation of advertising regulations after having face masks made with the words ‘no comment’ on them.

The letter was published in 2020 after it became mandatory for people to wear face masks in certain areas.

It is understood Ciarán Mulholland of Mulholland Law in Dundalk, Co Louth, has been told he may breach advertising regulations and could bring the profession into disrepute.

The note was given to Mr Mulholland after receiving a complaint from another lawyer, according to sources close to the Law Society. He wrote to Dundalk’s lawyer asking him to respond to the charges.

The issue was resolved when Mr Mulholland, who runs a busy criminal defense firm, pledged to stop having masks printed and to remove a social media post featuring the masks.

‘Nothing to say’

The Law Society received the complaint after Mulholland Law posted a tweet showing the newly printed masks. Some featured the words “no comment” while one featured an Irish tricolor and the words “faic le rá” meaning “nothing to say”.

It is understood that the masks were issued to clients of the law firm. Mr Mulholland declined to comment when contacted this week, as did a Law Society spokeswoman.

Notaries and lawyers are subject to strict advertising regulations. However, it is common for law firms, including large multinational corporations, to distribute merchandise bearing their brand.

These include pens, umbrellas and, more recently, face masks.

It is unclear what action the Law Society might have taken if he had initiated disciplinary action. Since December 2020, the Legal Services Regulatory Authority has taken over the enforcement of the regulations on the advertising of lawyers.

Covid protocols

Mr Mulholland had the face masks printed after High Court President Mary Irvine published a strongly worded letter criticizing the lack of compliance with Covid protocols in the courts.

She said she has received several complaints about lawyers and notaries not wearing face masks in court buildings.

“It’s not just happening in Dublin, it’s happening all over the country. And it is disappointing to hear from some Courts Service staff who have asked attorneys to comply with these requirements, that they have, on occasion, received a dismissive or aggressive response,” the judge said.

Several months earlier, Madam Justice Irvine had issued a practice directive that face masks should be worn in court except when testifying or addressing the court.

Around the same time, the Garda Ombudsman received several complaints from members of the public about the gardaí not wearing face coverings in confined spaces, including interrogation rooms.