Council reports 2013

Council Meeting, 13 December 2013

President and vice president

The Society’s longest serving Council member and current Vice President, Alistair Morris, was formally elected as next year’s President.

Christine McLintock, former general counsel for Pinsent Masons, will take up the post of Vice President in 2014/15.

The current President, Bruce Beveridge, announced the results to Council members, adding that he was “delighted” for those taking up their new positions.

Alistair Morris, Chief Executive of Pagan Osborne, who joined the Council in 1992, was the sole nomination for President.

In the election for the vice presidency, Christine McLintock, who represents the constituency of Edinburgh and is the Convener of the Education and Training (Policy) Committee, polled the highest number of votes among Council members (25).

She will be the second female to hold the post, ten years after Caroline Flanagan.

She thanked Council members for their support and said she was “absolutely thrilled” at the result.

The election was contested by David Newton (10 votes), who represents the constituency of Dumbarton, and Aberdeen Council member Jane MacEachran (8).

Bruce Beveridge later added: "Christine has shown great ability, skill and judgment.  Working with the new president, Alistair Morris, the Society will have a first class team of office bearers at the helm from next May.

"I also want to thank David Newton and Jane MacEachran, two excellent candidates who ensured there was a spirited contest.  Both of them make an invaluable contribution to the Society and I'm looking forward to benefiting from their continued involvement on Council and our committees."

Licensed provider scheme

Plans for the Society to be approved as a regulator of new business structures should be taken forward as a priority, the Council heard.

The Society is currently working on a detailed draft regulatory scheme to submit to the Scottish Government.

If the scheme is approved, the Society would be able to regulate licensed legal services providers, which are permitted under the Legal Services (Scotland) Act 2010.

Philip Yelland, Director of Regulation, said: “We want to move forward as quickly as possible to get our scheme back in to the government.”

The Society submitted its initial draft regulatory scheme a year ago but the Scottish Government questioned whether it met the requirements of the 2010 Act.

The Society has since worked on putting together a more detailed scheme. To ensure it can be submitted as quickly as possible, the Council agreed that the authority to approve the revised model should be delegated to the office bearers.

A project plan is being put in place and progress reports will continue to be given to the Board and the Council.

Legal aid

Contracting and contributions were highlighted during a discussion on the latest legal aid developments.

Council members heard that the Society has published detailed research on contracting in criminal legal aid in advance of the Scottish Government’s consultation on the issue, which could start later this month.

Through case studies, the research looks at procurement processes, equality and competition in different markets around the world. It is the second major contracting research project carried out by the Society.

The Council was also reminded that the new system of contributions in criminal legal aid is due to be implemented early next year, with a suggestion that the Society could do more to explain the changes that will take place.

Neil Stevenson, Director of Representation and Professional Support, said the Society was keen to engage with legal aid solicitors and get their feedback on reforms to the system.