Council reports 2012

Council Meeting, 30 March 2012


Proposals to reduce the size of the Society’s ruling Council will be put to solicitors at the annual general meeting in May.

The limited governance reform was backed by Council members in place of previous plans to hold a vote of the membership on a comprehensively redrafted constitution. The decision follows a six-week consultation with members.

Under the proposals, the Council would comprise 30 solicitors elected by constituency, up to seven co-opted solicitor members and nine non-solicitor members. A smaller Council was supported during the consultation process.

Bruce Beveridge, vice president elect and convener of the Society’s constitution working group, said it became clear during the consultation process that there were reservations about adopting a new constitution at this time.

The President, Cameron Ritchie, said the review of the constitution had been a worthwhile process, which raised awareness of the Society’s governance rules.

He added that the Society should also look at modernising voting procedures, which would be particularly beneficial to members in remote areas.

In-house lawyers

A working group is to be set up to take forward plans to change the way Scotland’s in-house solicitors are supported and represented by the Society.

The decision followed a lengthy debate about how best to represent in-house lawyers. It was agreed that further consideration of 11 recommendations contained in a review of support services was needed. The working group will be headed by Council member David Newton.

After the meeting, he paid tribute to the work of the current In-House Lawyers’ Group (ILG), adding that the aim was to build on ILG’s "enormous success and strengths".

Janet Hood, head of the ILG, said she looked forward to working with the new group in developing the way forward.

One of the key issues debated by Council members was whether ILG should become a committee of the Council or retain its current basic structure.

Esto Law

The findings of a review of the firm Esto Law Ltd were discussed by Council members.

They heard that the Society’s President, Cameron Ritchie, and Vice President, Austin Lafferty, had found no evidence to support accusations made against the former members of the Society's Criminal Legal Aid Negotiating Team who planned to set up Esto, which was intended to offer police station advice cover to solicitors.

Past President Jamie Millar paid tribute to the "tremendous" effort and commitment of the members of the negotiating team.