'No cover-up' on IT, vows Mears

AN INVESTIGATION has been launched into the Law Society's troubled computer system and president Martin Mears has promised “there will be no cover up”.

A working party of society council members, which includes Mears, will investigate the system's burgeoning cost and the chronic delays in practising certificates being issued.

It will also ask why staff appeared to keep council members in the dark about the system's problems.

“I was elected by the profession to run this place properly. I am not the Law Society's man or Chancery Lane's and I am not here to cover up their embarrassments,” said Mears.

The investigation was set up last week amid a storm of national media attention on divisions within the society sparked off by Eileen Pembridge's explosive “open letter to the profession” in The Lawyer.

Responding to her claims that his election had led to inefficiency, incompetence and discord, Mears reiterated his long-standing complaint that he was being blocked by a small band of opponents on the council and among staff.

Last week also saw the long-awaited debate on reform of the Law Society, but there appeared to be only lukewarm support for the kind of radical shake-up advocated by council member David Thomas.

The computer investigation marks the culmination of a campaign by vice-president Robert Sayer to highlight its problems. The campaign comes after The Lawyer last month revealed details of an internal staff email describing the situation as a “crisis” when council members were only being told of “teething problems”.

The working party, set up by the society's finance committee, includes Sayer and Equal Opportunities Commission chair Kamlesh Bahl, and will appoint independent consultants

Finance committee chair and society treasurer Mike Howells said the party would report in April. “There seems to be a conflict between what we were told and what was going on in the background. It is essential we get to the bottom of this.”