The Law Society has belatedly agreed to enter into mediation with estranged former vice-president Kamlesh Bahl as the true cost of the whole affair is revealed for the first time
The saga has cost the society just over £2m between legal advice for the employment tribunal brought by Bahl and the Griffiths report (a report conducted by Lord Griffiths for the Law Society into the Bahl affair). Last Thursday (31 January) the Law Society held a special general meeting about whether it should hold an inquiry into the affair. Imran Khan, Bahl's solicitor, revealed the exact costs when delivering a speech in support of holding an inquiry at the meeting. Khan told the meeting: "The Law Society has spent £2,049,779.70 on the Kamlesh Bahl affair so far - £1.3m on the litigation and almost £665,000 on the Griffiths report - money that has come from our practising certificate fees. It has also, it seems, given a blank cheque in advance to fund the appeals and any compensation that may be awarded against those individuals found guilty, creating an unlimited liability for the society and thereby us. All this without informing us or consulting with us." At last Thursday's meeting, it was decided that any vote on an independent inquiry into the society's funding of the affair would be postponed until 16 May. Members also decided that the society should attempt to resolve the Bahl affair through mediation, a society spokesperson said. It is not clear, therefore, whether the society plans to drop its appeal against the employment tribunal decision that found Bahl had been the victim of racial and sexual discrimination. The Bahl affair has been trundling on since 1999, when Bahl was suspended from her post as vice-president of the Law Society. She was suspended following a report conducted by Lord Griffiths, which found that she had bullied members of the society's staff. Bahl retaliated with a claim of her own in March 2000. She stated that she had suffered victimisation and racial and sexual discrimination at the hands of former president Robert Sayer and former general secretary Jane Betts. In July 2001, an employment tribunal found the Law Society liable for sexual and racial discrimination, but rejected the claims of victimisation. The Law Society then launched an appeal on behalf of Sayer and Betts, which it agreed to fund. Bahl is also cross-appealing the tribunal's finding on victimisation.