Council reports 2015

Council Meeting, 26 June 2015

In-house lawyers' committee

A new committee is to be established to ensure the Society best serves the needs of in-house solicitors, the Council agreed.

The new in-house lawyers’ committee will replace the In-House Lawyers’ Group (ILG) Committee from November this year.

The composition of the committee was agreed for a transitional period to June 2016, along with a draft remit.

The process for electing the convener – first by the committee and later by the in-house membership – and appointing the convener to the Council were also approved.

Further work is to be carried out on the Society’s standing orders and the operation of the body, which will function as a committee of the Council, with a Society role and remit as well as a project plan and budget.

ILG Chair Lynda Towers said the existing committee met last night and agreed that in principle the Council paper was a “good way forward”.

A number of points about the membership of the new committee and the way it would operate were clarified during a discussion among Council members.

The Council heard that the debate about the representation of in-house members had been taking place for five years and the time was right to take the issue forward.


General election

Further devolution to Scotland, an EU referendum and human rights are likely to prove key areas of work for the Society following the general election result last month, the Council heard.

Members agreed to set up a new working party to focus on the UK Government’s plans to repeal the Human Rights Act and introduce a British Bill of Rights, ending the automatic right of appeal to the European Court of Human Rights.

The working party will lead the Society’s work on the consultation on repeal of the Human Rights Act and any subsequent legislation.

All three key areas of work were included in the Society’s pre-election document, Our Priorities for the UK General Election 2015.

A paper before Council members added: “We plan to make representations on other parts of the legislative agenda as well as more general issues, such as the economy, monetary and fiscal policy, to build on our work from the last UK parliament.”


Guarantee Fund

The name of the fund set up to reimburse clients who have suffered monetary loss because of the dishonesty of a solicitor or their staff is to be changed to ensure it is better understood by the public.

The Council agreed to change the operational name of the Scottish Solicitors’ Guarantee Fund to the Client Protection Fund.

A report before the Council explained that the issue had been considered by the Guarantee Fund Sub-Committee.

It added: “After a lengthy discussion of all the options, participants opted for Client Protection Fund. It was felt that, with this name, it was much clearer what the fund was for and who the fund should benefit.”

The Council also agreed that the Guarantee Fund contribution for 2015/16 should remain unchanged at £180.


Council members

Retiring Council member Ross MacKay brought “commercial and intellectual rigour of the highest quality” to his work, Council members were told.

Vice President Eilidh Wiseman said Ross had served on the Council for nine years and was the only Edinburgh representative to have been re-elected on three separate occasions.

She added that Ross convened both the Property Law Committee and the Insurance Committee and was one of the hardest working members of the Council.

She said: “The amount of work which Ross has put into both committees is immeasurable. He has steered the Society through very difficult insurance market conditions over the course of the last recession.”


Oliver Adair

The Society’s former legal aid convener, Ollie Adair, believed passionately in social justice, the rights of individuals and fairness in society, the Council heard.

Eilidh Wiseman paid tribute to the former Council member, who passed away earlier this month after a long fight with cancer.

Joining the Council in 1996 to represent solicitors in Hamilton and Lanark, Ollie had been a man of great principle and integrity with a tremendous ability to make people feel at ease, she added.

She offered the Society’s condolences to his wife, Catriona, and family.