The latest salvo in the resignations over at the Law Society of Scotland comes this time, from the Society’s current President, Jamie Millar, who has issued a long & rambling statement in response to the resignation of the Govan Law Centre’s Mike Dailly from the Society’s ruling Council & Access to Justice Committee.
Mr Millar’s statement claims a number of Council members had expressed concern over the work of Mr Dailly’s Access to Justice Committee, a reference which appears to refer to a story reported in October 2010, where Mr Dailly’s Committee suggested the Scottish Legal Aid Board & the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission should be merged in the name of saving money. The idea was widely attacked at the time by SLAB, the SLCC & the Law Society as neither wanted to be merged with the other (not again ! – Ed).
The Law Society President also makes some claims about allowing & valuing free speech, claims which seem to contradict its own policies on media comment, which we reported on during late November 2010, HERE.
Mr Millar wryly ends his response saying the process will be started to appoint a new convener of the Access to Justice Committee (Wasn't this the position which was penciled in for a certain retiring msp who recently got into trouble for making certain remarks ? -Ed)
The Law Society of Scotland’s media release is reprinted below :
Jamie Millar, President of the Law Society of Scotland, said: "A number of Council members had expressed concern over the work of the Access to Justice Committee and the fact that Mike Dailly as its Convenor had not been present at any of the last three Council meetings to report on the committee's work. Our Council is the democratically elected ruling body of the Law Society of Scotland. All our committees report to Council and it was a matter of real concern that the work of such an important committee had gone unreported to Council since November.”
"That is why Council agreed to place the Access to Justice Committee on the agenda for its next meeting in March so these matters could be discussed with Mike Dailly present. I am sorry that Mike has now chosen to resign from Council, rather than allowing Council members to discuss these matters with him directly.“
"The Law Society of Scotland both allows and values free speech. However, it also important for those elected to the Council of the Society to work together as a team and for issues to be brought to Council for discussion. For example, it is also wrong for work to be presented as Society policy when it has never in fact been considered or approved by our elected Council. That is why Council overwhelmingly approved the media protocol last November, which was basic common sense and was passed to ensure that Council members and committee convenors worked together on public statements, especially where there was a crossover of work.”
"Mike also talks about the proposed constitution which he claims would exclude the rights of members to influence Society policy. The reality is that the new constitution actually delivers the changes which the vast majority of our members told us they wanted. As someone who talks frequently about the importance of listening to members, I am surprised that Mike would now advocate overturning the clearly expressed views of our members in this area.”
"Indeed his arguments about ending the Society's role of representing and regulating the solicitor profession are equally out of step with the views of our members. Just last year, 78% of members voting in a referendum voted in favour of the Society maintaining its dual role. I do not understand why Mike believes we should now go against the overwhelming and democratically expressed views of our members. We are a membership organisation and we need to respect the views that our members express.”
"I am of course sorry that Mike has chosen to resign from Council. I want to thank him for his service over the last nine months, both on Council and as the Convenor of the Access to Justice Committee. Indeed, the Society's work in terms of maintaining proper public access to the justice system has never been more important, particularly in the context of significant cuts to public spending. That is why we will be starting a process of appointing a new convenor for the Access to Justice Committee to ensure this work continues."