General meetings

The Society usually holds an annual general meeting (AGM) in the spring.

The AGM considers the annual report and the practising certificate fee for Scottish solicitors for the forthcoming year. The Society's corporate plan and budget are also reported at the AGM.

The general meetings are open to all members of the Society. Motions can be raised at the meetings by both the Council of the Society and individual members.

AGM 2012

AGM report, 31 May 2012

Solicitors today voted to reduce the size of the Society's ruling Council by a quarter.

The decision was among business conducted at the annual general meeting in Perth. A motion to amend the Society's constitution to establish a Council of 46 members, down from 62, was backed by 68 solicitors, with two against and three abstentions.

The Society's President, Cameron Ritchie, said the decision would streamline the decision-making process.

He said: "It is necessary in the modern day that we have a flexible, smaller Council and one that can move quickly to meet rapidly changing circumstances."

He also paid tribute to the contribution Council members made to the work of the Society.

Bruce Beveridge, the Society's Vice President-elect and Convener of the Constitution Working Group, said the aim of reform was to improve transparency, accountability, efficiency and effectiveness.

He added that consultations with members had led to a "significant degree of consensus" that the Council was too large.

He said reducing its size should make the Council more effective without affecting the quality of representation or debate, adding: "I am firmly of the view that we are proposing a motion that is measured and proportionate."

Solicitors elected from geographical constituencies will continue to make up most of the Council, with up to six co-opted solicitor members also representing specific under-represented sectors or groups, and up to nine non-solicitor members. The changes will be phased in over a three-year period.

Bruce Beveridge added that further reforms would be considered in the future, including the use of technology to increase participation in Society business.

Concerns were raised that an equalities impact assessment had not been carried out and published before proposing the reduction in Council size. But other delegates described the Society as an "inclusive" organisation where all views were considered.

A report on the issue of separate representation for borrowers and lenders in property transactions was also considered at the AGM.

Arguments both in favour and against separate representation were put forward. It was agreed that, while the Council was minded to amend the rules to prohibit acting for both lender and borrower, a working party would be set up to look at the issue in more detail and consult with interested parties. Recommendations are expected to be brought to the special general meeting in September.

A motion proposing several minor changes to the practice rules was also approved.

The meeting, which was attended by around 70 solicitors, included the approval of previous minutes and heard statements of the accounts of the Society, the Guarantee Fund and the Scottish Solicitors' Benevolent Fund.

Tribute was also paid to former Society President Alistair Hamilton, who died last Friday. Elected president in 1977/78, he was described as the "most courteous of solicitors and a true gentlemen". He was awarded a CBE for his services to the legal profession. Condolences were offered to his family.