The Law Society’s group for in-house lawyers, the Commerce & Industry (C&I) Group, was left reeling last week by the resignation of national vice-chair Anthony Armitage and the breakaway of its London arm.
Armitage handed in his resignation on 19 October from his roles as a director of C&I Group’s incorporated arm and as vice-chair of the non-commercial council. He remains chair of the London arm, which has split from the C&I Group to become the In-House Lawyers’ Association.
Another C&I Group director Malcolm Walby, a solicitor with Dorset firm Humphreys Kirk, has also offered to resign, citing potential for conflict.
Armitage said a number of factors prompted his decision. He claimed proposals to change the membership criteria of the group to only those not in private practice would have forced him, as well as Walby, out of the group.
Contested elections for the post of national chair took place on Friday (22 October), although succession from vice-chair to chair is normally automatic. The group’s constitution neither requires nor precludes elections.
Armitage, who withdrew from the elections, said: "I consider it to be a deep betrayal of trust."
On the future of the London arm, comprising more than 50 per cent of the C&I Group’s membership, Armitage told The Lawyer: "We’ve got ambitious plans to take the group forward and provide better services for our members."
A C&I Group spokesperson said: "Until the C&I Group have fully ascertained the situation and heard first hand what Mr Armitage plans to do, the group cannot comment further."