Chancery Lane finances to get 'Thatcherite' treatment

MARTIN Mears may have to quit his plush presidential Carey Street residence and be installed in a modest penthouse as part of a Chancery Lane austerity package.

But one group likely to escape a general financial squeeze at the Law Society are candidates in contested presidential elections who look set to receive £7,500 campaign fund grants.

The 'Thatcherite' bout of belt tightening was heralded at the Law Society's Thursday council meeting with the unveiling of a report which claims “market testing,” rationalisation and cost cutting could lead to annual savings of £2 million by 2000.

Depriving the president of his residence is just one of a host of proposals suggested by an “activity audit” made up of society council members.

One suggestion, to withdraw funding from society groups like the Young Solicitors Group, was described by Michael Napier as “dynamite” during last week's council debate on the proposals.

He criticised the audit team for not informing the groups of the proposals.

“A great deal of repair work need to be done over the handling of this document,” Napier said.

Law Society treasurer Mike Howells, who led the audit, stressed there would be full consultation before any of the measures were adopted.

Outgoing secretary general John Hayes said the staff were ready to co-operate with new measures, but he defended his own record, claiming services had expanded because of conscious council decisions.

Earlier, the council had approved in principle a scheme to fund election candidates after deputy vice-president Tony Girling said they would be prevented from standing if they received no help.

“I don't want to be bankrupted,” he said.

The next elections are also likely to see the employment of outside specialists to organise the polling and the use of proportional representation.