News In Focus
RFPG adds to criticisms of constitution proposals
Further criticism of the proposed revisions to the Law Society of Scotland's constitution and standing orders was voiced today by the Royal Faculty of Procurators in Glasgow as it published its response to the proposals.
The revisions, consultation on which closes today, have attracted criticisms in varying measure this week from the Scottish Law Agents Society and the Glasgow Bar Association, both of which have complained of the "undemocratic" nature of the measures which would increase the number of solicitors needed to requisition a general meeting, referendum or motion at a general meeting, and would remove the ability of the Society in general meeting to bind the Council.
The RFPG voices the same concerns, and also argues that a number of proposals in the current drafts are ultra vires and hence incompetent.
Partly this is due to the changes being put forward in advance of the enactment of the Legal Services (Scotland) Bill, but the RFPG also states that the drafts go beyond the powers in the Solicitors (Scotland) Act 1980 in that Council has no power to make provision for any classes of membership other than those set out in the Act, and seek to confer on the Society a rule making power not contained in the Act.
Like the Scottish Law Agents Society, the RFPG opposes the moving of certain provisions out of the constitution and into standing orders, which may be changed by Council, and argues that some provisions which are proposed to be dropped from the constitution (principallt dsealing with Council membership and elections) should be retained.
It also calls for a reduction in the number of Council members to be appointed by the Society's nominations committee, in particular those representing particular interest groups within the profession. "If there are specific sectors of the solicitors' profession, it should be possible to make arrangements for them to be represented by democratic election", it states.
The Royal Faculty also makes numerous criticisms of the detail of the drafts, errors in which, it says, "should act as a warning as to the dangers of increasing the powers of the Council of the Law Society".
And it concludes by challenging the ability of the Society to regulate licensed legal services providers as proposed in the Legal Services Bill, while continuing to represent the interests of the solicitors' profession in Scotland: "A body whose object is the regulation of LLSPs in competition with solicitors cannot be expected or required to promote the interest of the solicitors’ profession in Scotland."
Click here to access the full response.