We usually hold an annual general meeting (AGM) in the spring and occasionally hold special general meetings (SGM).
The AGM considers the annual report and the practising certificate fee for Scottish solicitors for the forthcoming year. Our corporate plan and budget are also reported at the AGM.
Both AGMs and SGMs are open to all of our members. Motions can be raised at the meetings by both our Council and individual members.
Our practising and non-practising members were invited to attend a Special General Meeting (SGM) on Thursday 25 January when they endorsed amendments to practice rules intended to raise standards around their anti-money laundering practices and incidental financial business.
Our current incidental financial business (IFB) regime allows firms to conduct certain activities which would otherwise require Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) authorisation.
The changes to the incidental financial business rules, the first in over a decade, are required to ensure that we implement the terms of the Insurance Distribution Directive by the required date of 23 February 2018.
The purpose of the directive and the amended IFB rules is to raise the standards of conduct of business and introduce greater disclosure requirements in relation to the distribution of insurance products.
The second set of proposed amendments set out what will be required of Scottish solicitors in terms of their anti-money laundering (AML) practices and how we will supervise compliance. The key difference will be the introduction of desk-based risk assessment and reviews, which in some cases may lead to an onsite AML audit of firms by the Law Society.
Convener of the Client Protection Committee and Vice President of the Law Society of Scotland, Alison Atack introduced both sets of amendments. She said, “We take our regulatory role very seriously and it is imperative that we have a robust set of practice rules, which provide clarity for the profession and the appropriate and necessary protections for solicitors’ clients.
“I am pleased that our membership has endorsed the proposed amendments. We will now seek formal approval from the Lord President’s office and work towards their implementation. We will of course keep our members up to date as matters progress”.
We consulted widely on the proposed changes, seeking the views of our members, the Lord President’s Office and the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) on the IFB rules. We will seek the Lord President’s formal approval on the AML rules once a supporting legislative change process has been concluded and before implementation.
Guidance relating to both rule changes will be developed and issued to members in due course.
This year's Annual General Meeting was held at on Thursday 25 May 2017 at the Law Society offices at Atria One, 144 Morrison Street, Edinburgh.
Honorary Membership of the Society
The award by the Council of Honorary Membership of the Law Society of Scotland to Adrian D Ward MBE, Solicitor.
Order of formal business
- Approval of the Minute of the Annual General Meeting held on 26 May 2016.
- The President’s Address.
- The adoption of the reports from the Treasurer; the Client-Protection Fund Convener; the Audit Committee Convener; the In-house Lawyers’ Committee Convener; and the Convener of the Scottish Solicitors’ Benevolent Fund (SSBF) for 2015/2016.
4a. The approval of the Annual Report and Accounts of the Society; the Client-Protection Fund and the SSBF for 2015/2016.
4b. The appointment of the Auditors to the Society; the Client-Protection Fund; and the SSBF for 2016/2017.
- Chief Executive’s Report
Presentation by the Chief Executive on the Society’s current operating performance and five year strategy 2015/2020.
- Resolution from the Council of the Law Society of Scotland to amend the Society’s Constitution – Resolution 1
Resolution to amend the Scheme under the Solicitors (Scotland) Act 1980 being the Constitution of the Law Society of Scotland (which came into operation on 1 November 1988)
“That with effect from 00.00 hours on 26 May 2017 the Constitution of the Law Society of Scotland is amended as follows –
Amendment to Article 3 Composition of the Council
In article 3(3) for the number “6” substitute the number “8”. “
- Practising Certificate fee for 2016/2017- Resolution number 2
Motion from the Council on the Practising Certificate Fee for 2017/2018 – Motion No1.
“That, as from 1 November 2017, the Annual Subscription held by each member of the Society holding a Practising Certificate will be £550”
- Practice Rules – proposed changes in practice rules for Solicitor Advocates – Resolution 3
Motion from the Regulatory Committee on Amendments to the Society’s Practice Rules – Motion No 2.
The meeting began with outgoing president Christine McLintock paying tribute to past president Michael Park CBE who sadly passed away recently. She spoke about all of the work Michael had done to represent Scottish solicitors. She added: “We were sad to hear the news of his death and extend our condolences to Michael’s family at this difficult time.”
Christine then gave a short speech summing up her 12 months in office. During her speech she said:
“It has been a wonderful, challenging and productive year. We have launched an ambitious new strategy focused on continuous improvement and Leading Legal Excellence. We have moved into these wonderful new premises, which better reflect a modern, adaptable and successful Scottish legal profession.
“We have seen the profession become majority female for the first time and done some ground-breaking work on equality and diversity. And another highlight for me, we announced news of our exciting Lawscot Foundation.”
Christine finished her speech by thanking Alistair Morris, past president, who was standing down from the Law Society council after 24 years for his service to the profession. She also welcomed incoming president Eilidh Wiseman.
Lorna Jack, chief executive, gave members an update on our operational plan and new five year strategy which is intended to ensure the Society is a bolder, more ambitious and more effective world class professional body. Lorna explained that we are making great progress across all 28 projects with the vast majority expected to be completed on time. The major projects include:
- A legislative change programme
- Reforming our post qualifying accreditation system
- Justice reform including legal aid
- Member smartcard roll-out
- Implications of the EU referendum
Lorna also highlighted again an important change that we are making. She said “We have recently appointed leading insurance brokers Lockton to administer and broker our Master Policy of professional indemnity insurance with effect from 1 January 2017.
“The decision to change brokers was the result of a comprehensive and open tender process which started nearly a year ago in June 2015. This tender was carried out by a specialist panel of practitioners drawn from the Society’s insurance committee. The panel’s recommendation to the Insurance committee, Board and ultimately Council, to change brokers was based on a range of factors and was taken very seriously. The factors included Lockton’s brokering and placement plans; their service levels; their proposed innovation especially in the area of online renewal and their commitment to the long term sustainability of the Master Policy.”
Lorna concluded by thanking current broker Marsh “I want to take the opportunity to put on record our gratitude for the great working relationship we have had with Marsh and Alistair Sim and Russell Laing in particular.”
The AGM, which was attended by 35 solicitors, went on to approve freezing the 2016/17 Practising Certificate fee at £550 for the seventh consecutive year. The accounts fee and also fees for new solicitors, non-practising members and those on the roll were set at the April Council meeting.
In other business, draft amendments to the practice rules relating to the civil legal aid quality assurance scheme were also passed. Changes to our constitution relating to voting at the AGM and office bearers were also approved by members.
Statements of our accounts; the client protection fund (formerly the guarantee fund); and the Scottish Solicitors' Benevolent Fund as well as reports from the audit committee and in-house lawyers' group committee are available to view here.