Spending spree leaves Law Society £6.4m down

The Law Society reported a £6.4m loss for 2004, it emerged today as the solicitors’ body published its annual accounts.

The society’s income – from practising certificate fees, investments, and other sources – totalled £86.6m, up nearly £11m from 2003. But expenditure rose by a massive 24.5 per cent from £74.7m to £93m in 2004, creating the deficit.

Among the expenditure accounting for the rise was a £6.3m increase in wages for Law Society staff, an extra £2.1m in legal fees and £404,000 spent on the Legal Services Complaints Commission. Depreciation in equipment, furniture, computers and hardware accounted for a further £6.4m, up from £2m in 2003.

Office holder, council and committee expenses combined to cost the society £1.6m, up slightly from £1.5m in 2003.

The accounts also reveal the salaries of the society’s office holders and chief executive. The Law Society President’s salary went up by £4,680 between 2003 and 2004 to £89,284. But the highest paid member of the society’s senior management team is chief executive Janet Paraskeva, who was paid a total of £297,000 in 2004 including a £28,000 bonus and £72,000 in pensions contributions.

The shortfall in the society’s own pension scheme has increased from £29m at the end of 2003 to £32.5m, based on the existing investment strategy adopted by the Law Society trustees. According to a report produced for today’s (Wednesday, 11 May) council meeting, the increase is “primarily due to a fall in gilt yields, which are used to place a value on the Scheme’s liabilities”.

At today’s meeting the council is expected to approve the draft accounts.