Friday 25 February 2011

Final hurdle for Property Factors (Scotland) Bill next week

The Scottish Parliament will debate the Property Factors (Scotland) Bill at Stage 3 on the afternoon of Thursday, 3 March 2011. This is the final hurdle for the Bill. The Bill, drafted by Govan Law Centre's Parliamentary Unit for Glasgow MSP Patricia Ferguson, has now secured the backing of the Scottish Government, the Parliament's Local Government and Communities Committee, and also has wide public support across Scotland. However, the Bill now needs to secure the support of MSPs in the full Chamber next Thursday in order for it to become law.


Thursday 24 February 2011

A mortal blow to members' rights: proposed changes to Law Society of Scotland's constitution

The draft constitution which the Council of the Law Society of Scotland (LSS) will propose at its AGM next month will irretrievably damage the rights of the 10,500 members of the Law Society.  Today, GLC publishes an article by Glasgow solicitor, and LSS Council member, Walter Semple which explains how the proposed new constitution diminishes the rights of ordinary members, and exposes Scottish solicitors to the unnecessary financial risks of 'Tesco law firms', know as 'licensed legal service providers' (LPs) under the Legal Services (Scotland) Act 2010.
Glasgow Council member and GLC's Principal Solicitor, Mike Dailly said: "The Law Society is a members-based organisation, paid for by 10,500 members across Scotland, but a small elite want to severely restrict the ability of members to influence their own organisation. That's undemocratic and unnecessary.  The Society should be fully open, transparent and accountable to its members.  It isn't and the constitution proposed by the Council isn't fit for purpose".
"Walter Semple is correct to highlight the irreconcilable conflict in the Society both regulating 'Tesco law' businesses and supposedly promoting the interests of solicitors.  These bodies are not Scottish solicitors, yet the proposed constitution would see Scottish solicitors underwriting their financial risks. That is not in the interests of the Scottish legal profession, so why are we doing this?"
The proposed new constitution would require any members motion to influence the policy of the Society to require a 2/3rds majority, unless it had the support of Council.  Further, LPs would be covered by the Society's Guarantee Fund (a fund built up by a levy on partners and principals in Scottish legal firms) and the Society's Master Policy.
What can you do?  If you are a solicitor you can grant a proxy so that your vote can be cast against the proposed new constitution; OPEN PROXY FORM (this should be returned to the Registrar, David Cullen, of the Law Society of Scotland in Edinburgh. Or you can attend the AGM on 25 March 2010 and cast your own vote.


Wednesday 2 February 2011

Protecting Scotland's vulnerable citizens: Access to Justice Committee Discussion Paper

The Law Society of Scotland's Access to Justice Committtee (AJC) has published a radical Discussion Paper (DP) suggesting that the Scottish Government's 8.2% legal aid cut could be achieved by tax efficient regulatory restructuring.  The DP also calls for the redeployment of PDSO resources to fund victim support and other unmet civil legal need services.

The Convenor of the Law Society's Access to Justice Committee, GLC's Mike Dailly, said: ' We believe the priority must be to protect Scotland's vulnerable and low income citizens from the worst consequences of unprecedented welfare benefit and public funding cuts. This cannot be done in the current economic climate without innovative regulatory and structural reform of our existing legal aid system".

The Acccess to Justice Committee's Discussion Paper can be read here.