Friday, May 27, 2011

Law Society of Scotland to appoint up to 10 non-lawyer Council members in window dressing exercise for Legal Services Act regulation

Law Society of ScotlandUp to 10 non-lawyers are to join Law Society’s Council to give an appearance of non-bias in regulation matters. NON-LAWYERS have never had it so good as the Law Society of Scotland announces it has decided to appoint up to ten of the lesser spotted stooges to join its ‘dictatorial’ Council, the body which issues the edicts which govern the Law Society’s membership and decide how the profession proceeds on key issues such as regulation, vote fiddling, parliamentary bullying lobbying and of course, how the public are treated on legal & justice issues (Haha – Ed).

The appointments come in the wake of proposals to create yet another regulatory committee with 50% non-lawyer membership to satisfy the requirements of the SNP Scottish Government’s Legal Services (Scotland) Act 2010, the much watered down, expectedly poor, typically Scottish, perhaps even third rate equivalent of the UK Parliament’s Legal Services Act 2007 the aims of which were to open up competition in the legal services sector, also allowing majority ownership in law firms or new non-solicitor companies to enter the field of legal services provision.

In Scotland, there will be no such reforms to access to justice or expansion of consumer choice in legal services, and ownership of already established Scottish law firms is to be heavily restricted (would anyone be fool enough to want to own a Scots law firm ? – Ed)

The Law Society of Scotland issued the following Press Release on the subject :

Non-solicitor members to join Society's Council

The Council of the Law Society of Scotland is to include non-solicitors voting members for the first time, following changes approved at the Society's general meeting today (Friday 27 May)

Amendments to the Law Society of Scotland's constitution allowing for the appointment of up to 10 non-solicitor Council members were approved unanimously. Other amendments to create a new regulatory committee with 50% non-solicitor membership and a non-solicitor convener were also passed at the general meeting held in Edinburgh. The Society presently has three non-solicitor observers who can speak at Council meetings but cannot vote. An opinion from Senior Counsel confirmed that the Society's constitution had to change in order to allow for non-solicitor voting members of Council as required in the Legal Services (Scotland) Act 2010.

The new constitution presented to members at the AGM in March included provision for full non-solicitor voting members of Council as well as other changes. However, the motion to rescind the existing constitution failed to achieve the required two thirds majority support and the motion for the new constitution was withdrawn. The decision was therefore taken to bring forward a more limited series of constitutional amendments to today's special general meeting to meet the requirements placed on the Society by the Legal Services (Scotland) Act.

Following the meeting, Jamie Millar, outgoing president of the Law Society of Scotland, said: "Given the Society's important responsibilities towards the public interest, the Scottish Government made it clear that non-solicitors should be sitting on and voting as part of our ruling Council. Our three non-solicitor observers on Council already make a tremendous contribution and I have no doubt the Society will benefit even more from having full voting non-solicitor Council members."

Society members also approved constitutional amendments to create a new regulatory committee with 50% non-solicitor members and a non-solicitor convenor. The Society had received conflicting legal advice on whether constitutional change was required to create this new committee, as required by the Legal Services (Scotland) Act 2010. Council therefore chose to remove any ambiguity by bringing forward amendments to the existing constitution at today's general meeting. These amendments were approved unanimously.

Today's special general meeting also included a general discussion on a draft new constitution, which has been amended significantly from that considered by members earlier in the year.

Jamie Millar added: "We listened carefully to the concerns expressed by members during the AGM two months ago. We have also met with a number of groups within the profession including representatives of the Scottish Law Agents Society and I hope the changes made since March help to respond to these genuine issues of concern. Today's general meeting has given us another important opportunity to consult with and listen to our members. We still plan to bring a new constitution forward for adoption at the next general meeting in September and we will be undertaking further dialogue with members over the next few months."

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