Council reports 2016

Council Meeting 25 November 2016

Presidential nominations

The current Vice President of the Society, Graham Matthews, was nominated to become next year’s president.

Graham, one of the two Council members representing Aberdeenshire solicitors, was the only nomination and will take over the presidency from Eilidh Wiseman in May 2017.

Graham Matthews, who is a partner at Peterkins, has served as a Council member for more than ten years and sat on a number of committees, including the Professional Practice Committee and the Regulatory Committee.

There were two nominations for vice president in 2017/18:

  • Alison Atack is a partner at Lindsays and represents Glasgow and Strathkelvin.  She is a former member of the Regulatory Committee and currently convener of the Client Protection Fund sub-committee
  • John Mulholland is Falkirk-based criminal law consultant, who represents solicitors in Alloa, Falkirk, Linlithgow and Stirling.  He is the current Treasurer of the Society and the Convener of the Finance Committee.

Eilidh Wiseman congratulated the nominees and said Graham Matthews would prove to be a “powerful voice” for Scottish solicitors.

The new vice president-elect will be confirmed at the Society’s December Council meeting following a vote of Council members.

European Union

The Council approved a set of priorities for the UK Government’s negotiation on leaving the European Union.

Council members considered a draft paper to contribute to the negotiations. They heard that the Society had conducted an update to its survey of members on leaving the EU, with a number of concerns identified.

Some of the identified priorities include:

Public interest issues

  • Ensuring stability in the law
  • Maintaining freedom, security and justice.

Membership issues

  • Promoting continued professional recognition and continued rights of audience in the EU
  • Protecting legal professional privilege for the clients of Scottish Lawyers working in the EU or advising on EU Law.

Read our full proposals for Negotiation Priorities on leaving the EU.

The Society was also represented at the EU Justice Summit hosted by Scottish ministers, which covered law enforcement, civil law, EU law and engagement with the UK Government.

A discussion among Council members heard that the Society was well prepared to contribute to the process of exiting the EU.

More information on the Society’s Brexit work is available at www.lawscot.org.uk/brexit

Regulatory Committee

The Regulatory Committee is developing its own communications plan, Council members heard.

The Convener of the Regulatory Committee, Carole Ford, gave a presentation to the Council.

It outlined the development of the committee, oversight of the regulatory process, issues dealt with in recent months and issues for the future.

On the issue of communications, Council members were told that the new plan included the committee publishing an annual report to raise awareness of its work to the public and the profession.

As part of its oversight role, the committee also comments on and contributes to the Society’s annual plan.

The presentation was followed by a question and answer session, which raised issues such as regulatory models used in other jurisdictions.

Legal Aid

The Council also received an update on the Law Society’s Legal Aid Profitability Research, which legal aid firms and individuals took part in recently. The final results which look at viability and affordability of legal aid firms in Scotland will be published in early 2017.

We hope to use this research to make recommendations to the Scottish Government and the Scottish Legal Aid Board on potential ways to improve the legal aid system to enhance access to justice and to support our members.