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SLAS publishes response to constitution consultation

22 July 2010

A lower minimum number of solicitors supporting the calling of a special general meeting or referendum, and a continuation of the power of general meetings to bind the Law Society of Scotland's Council, are among the submissions of the Scottish Law Agents Society in its response to the constitutional changes proposed by the Law Society.

The SLAS submissions, posted to its website, open by acknowledging constructive discussions that have taken place between the two societies, and that the current drafts may improve the exercise of the Law Society's regulatory functions. However, it adds, they are also "subject to error and inconsistency within themselves, confuse the respective functions of the Constitution and the Standing Orders and seek to remove power from the members of the Law Society and to increase the power of CLSS to the extent that the Society itself would be prevented from carrying out its fundamental statutory function".

SLAS continues by suggesting that the proposals are premature "because they reflect the requirements of legislation which has not yet been passed, which may not eventually be passed or which may come to be passed in terms yet unknown and therefore the whole task may require to be repeated when the terms of that legislation come to be known".

On the particular provisions, SLAS argues that the regulation of meetings and the election of office bearers should continue to be contained in the constitution rather than moved standing orders, which can be amended by Council.

Members' rights

While acknowledging the growth in the profession since the present constitution was adopted, SLAS also opposes the raising of the number of signatories required for a motion to the Annual General Meeting from 10 to 20, and the raising to 100 of the number of members required to requisition a special general meeting or the hilding of a referendum, for each of which it proposes a minimum 42 signatures.

Regarding motions at general meetings, SLAS maintains that it is "inconsistent with the responsibility of the Law Society set out at section 1 of the 1980 Act" that the Society be prevented from binding Council by motion. "It is the Society and not [Council] which has the responsibility to discharge the requirements of section 1 and the Society cannot possibly be prevented from binding [Council]".

Among other points, SLAS:

  • proposes a constitutional limit to the size of Council;
  • calls for members representing specific sectors of the profession rather than geographical areas to be elected to Council rather than appointed via the nominations committee, and for a limit on the time that non-elected (but not elected) members can serve;
  • argues that proxy votes should be permitted where it is currently proposed that a matter can be decided only by those present at a general meeting.

Consultation on the draft consultation and standing orders (click here to access) closes tomorrow, Friday 23 July. It is intended to discuss the revised versions at the Council ,eeting on 6 August prior to putting them to the special general meeting to be held on 24 September.

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