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.
SGM report, 24 September 2014
The practising certificate for Scottish solicitors is to be frozen for the fifth year in succession, following a vote at the Law Society’s special general meeting in Glasgow today.
A motion to keep the fee level at £550 was approved unopposed by members at the SGM.
Treasurer David Newton explained that inflationary increases in expenditure would be financed through a £10 increase in the retention fee for remaining on the roll of solicitors to £90. The Council had also already agreed a £20 rise in the non-practising member fee to £180. Further small increases are expected next year.
Mr Newton added: “The Finance Committee still believes the gulf between the PC subscription and the retention and non-practising fees is too wide. We all benefit from a regulatory function designed to protect our clients and the professional reputations of each one of us, whether in practice or not.”
The Guarantee Fund accounts fee is to be maintained at £400 and the Guarantee Fund contribution at £180. The incidental financial business fees, which stand at £100 for each business carrying out that work and £100 for individuals doing likewise, will also remain unchanged.
Mr Newton said the fee levels were part of the Society’s budget for 2014/15. He explained that a small surplus of around £9,000 was projected as the Society balanced the books while freezing the PC fee.
A motion proposing an amendment to the Society’s constitution to change the system for electing Council members was also agreed.
As a result, the first-past-the-post method will be replaced by the single transferable vote (STV) system, which ranks candidates in order of preference.
Sheekha Saha, Convener of the Constitution Working Party, said the change was particularly important as more Council seats were now being contested.
STV is already used for the election of the president, vice president and Board members. A members’ consultation backed the change for Council elections.
The SGM also endorsed two draft practice rules that had been put forward as motions by the Regulatory Committee.
One will ensure that all Scottish multi-national practices contribute to the Master Policy. The other will alter the power of attorney rules to allow a solicitor to act as an attorney in private matters separate from his or her professional life as a solicitor.
The Chief Executive, Lorna Jack, put the draft annual plan for 2014/15 to the SGM, describing it as a “broad and stretching programme of work”.
Previously described as the corporate plan, the annual plan sets out the Society’s priority projects for the year ahead.
The 40 key projects include: the rollout of the new Society digital Smartcard; consulting with members over significant changes to the way solicitors are regulated; taking forward recommendations from the Guarantee Fund review; working to improve access to justice and ensure we retain an effective and properly funded legal aid system; and, continuing work on fair access and promoting diversity.
In his address, the President, Alistair Morris, made reference to last week’s independence referendum, describing the popular engagement and high voter turnout as a “triumph of democracy”.
He added: “The referendum produced a clear and decisive result and it’s now important for everyone to come together and respect the will of the people.”
He also said there was a need for a clear roadmap for the delivery of new powers, with the Society keen and willing to participate in that process.