Leading personal injury lawyer Grant McCulloch has taken up office as the new president of the Scottish Law Society ready to fight battles on several fronts.
McCulloch, a solicitor advocate, has been an Edinburgh partner with Drummond Miller WS for the past 17 years. As a specialist in medical negligence he was involved in the 1994 case which led to the highest ever damages award for personal injures in Scotland.
A member of the Law Society Council since 1987, McCulloch will front the society's fight with the Monopolies and Mergers Commission and Office of Fair Trading over solicitors' property centres and will represent the views of solicitors over proposals which have been drawn up by Scottish judge Lord Cullen to increase access to civil justice.
McCulloch said: “Lord Cullen's proposals, which I suppose are a sort of Lord Woolf-in-a-kilt, require solicitors to provide reports and schedules at the time of serving a summons rather than when the date of trial is fixed. We support this, provided that we also get legal aid funding and judicial expenses at the beginning rather than at the end.”
He will also be keeping a close eye on the moves of the Lord Advocate, Lord Mackay of Drumadoon QC, who recently lifted the ban on solicitors and procurator fiscals from becoming advocate deputes, but has yet to grant the privilege to solicitors from firms which undertake defence work.
“This is quite restrictive but all these things take time: maybe he is taking it in small steps,” McCulloch said.
He said the biggest problem facing Scottish solicitors was the same faced by English and Welsh lawyers – more solicitors charging more competitive fees and the danger it might lead to shoddy work.
But he pointed out that, unlike the situation south of the border, Scottish lawyers had voted out the re-introducing of scale conveyancing fees or minimum fees by three to one.