Mears backs SCB

LAW Society president Martin Mears has defended the Solicitors Complaints Bureau against a campaign group's claims that it is solicitor-biased.

“I have seen no evidence whatever to suggest that the SCB displays any bias in favour of solicitors,” he said in a letter to newly formed campaign group Casia (Complaints Against Solicitors Action for Independent Adjudication).

The president, who was sharply critical of the bureau before he took office last year, identified delays in complaints handling as the bureau's key difficulty but stressed the complexity of legal complaints.

“No-one is more anxious than I that the bureau should deal with complaints properly and as quickly as possible,” he said. “It is in the profession's obvious own self-interest that it should do so.”

The group, which is celebrating a £2,500 grant from the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust, was unimpressed with Mears' defence of the bureau, soon to be relaunched as the Office for the Supervision of Solicitors.

The Lord Chancellor has outlined why the Government believes that marriage is valuable and should be supported.

Speaking at the 'Supporting marriage into the next century' seminar last week, Lord Mackay highlighted the benefits associated with marriage and stable families, including better health and high-achieving children. He said: “The conflict and distress which often accompany family breakdown, the feelings of isolation, guilt or betrayal, can leave their mark on family members in many ways.”

The one-day event, held by the Lord Chancellor's Department working party on marriage, examined initiatives to reduce marriage break-downs.

Focusing on the Family Law Bill, Lord Mackay advocated the use of marriage support services. “We need to look at the time before divorce becomes a possibility. We need to look at couples' needs before problems develop into crises and to look at how support services can best be structured in order to meet the needs of couples,” he said.

On the proposed delay before divorce he said: “This is a delay with a purpose. Couples will either be working with each other and possibly marriage support services to save their marriage, or working on arrangements for a life apart.”