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.


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