Former Law Soc president backs Task Force plans

FORMER Law Society president Martin Mears has pledged his support to plans mooted by lobby group Task Force to prevent firms suing employees for negligence.

The Law Society's standards and guidance committee is to examine the issue when it meets next month.

Mears wants firms to disclose, at interview, whether or not they will sue. He also wants firms to be prevented from suing unless there are exceptional circumstances.

Exceptional circumstances would probably include fraud, grossly negligent acts and a persistent course of action such as consistently forgetting to issue a writ, said Mears.

Solicitor and joint chair of Task Force Peter Miller said he supported Mears' plan because the Law Society could take some time to alter the profession's Practice Rules, whereas forcing firms to be more open would make them think twice about suing.

Preventing firms suing employees for negligence was one of current president Tony Girling's election pledges. In a letter to Miller last week, he stated an intention to seek counsel's opinion on the Law Society's authority to change the rules.

“We know of about 40 solicitors who have been sued by their employers in the last two years, but that is only the tip of the iceberg,” said Miller. He added that many solicitors settled out of court, or kept quiet for fear publicity would further damage their career.