News In Focus
Semple resigns from Society's Council
Glasgow member Walter Semple, a longstanding opponent of the Society's policy on alternative business structures and of reforms to its constitution, has resigned from the Society's Council.
A passionate believer that professional independence did not permit solicitors to enter into joint business arrangements with non-solicitors, as permitted under ABS, Mr Semple said in his resignation letter that he deeply regretted the "partisan approach" of Council in promoting its policy, which he said had been approved in general meeting as a result of the votes of a few large firms, and "potentially favoured one section of the membership whilst potentially damaging another section".
On the constitution, Mr Semple said the proposed changes would have the effect of "reducing the accountability of the Council to members of the Society". He also regretted that the regulation of the profession "has come under the control of lay people" (through the Society's Regulatory Committee, which has equal lay and solicitor representation and a lay chair).
Earlier this year Mr Semple brought a formal complaint of misconduct against the then President, Jamie Millar, over allegedly misleading remarks prior to the Society's annual general meeting over the need for a new constitution. The complaint was dismissed by the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission as without merit, a decision upheld on appeal to the Court of Session, but Mr Semple said he continued to take "strong exception" to the information that was given.
Mr Semple concluded: "My disagreements with Council policy are so fundamental that I no longer feel that I can usefully contribute as a member of the Law Society Council."
Mr Semple holds one of seven Glasgow seats on the current Council. A by-election is expected to be called to fill the vacancy.