Law society motion savages management of Regis project

The Law Society's ruling council has passed resolutions condemning the “mismanagement” of its Regis project and staff's “perceived lack of disclosure of relevant information about the project”.

A scathing supplementary report on the Regis system was brought before the Society Council last week by former vice-president Robert Sayer. In it, he produces evidence which suggests former senior officials failed to inform the president and council members of the problems in the system, whose budget spiralled out of control.

The council voted down Sayer's proposal that he should arrange an independent review of the management and expenditure of the society. But treasurer Michael Mathews agreed to allow Sayer to join his own review of society finances and management.

The council voted to accept a motion proposed by former president Martin Mears that the council was “dismayed at the history of mismanagement revealed by the report”.

In a private session, the council recorded its “deprecation” of the “perceived” lack of information disclosed to office holders.

It also asked secretary general Jane Betts to draw up guidelines to make clear “that any unreasonable lack of openness on the part of staff would be viewed as an issue likely to lead to disciplinary action”.

Sayer commented: “The important thing is that there are former senior officials of the society who need to answer some questions. “

In his report, circulated to all council members, Sayer tells how external consultants produced a report on Regis as early as January last year saying that there was “low morale” and a “stand-off” between staff in the Professional Standard and

Development Committee and the Computing and Telecommunications (C&T) department, which was charged with implementing the Regis project. The report stated that the user team had “no trust whatsoever in the ability of C&T to deliver a Phase 3 system within the required time scale”.

The finance committee was not shown the report and was told the development team “had achieved a tremendous amount”.

In mid-November last year, when annual practising certificates were late, the then president Martin Mears asked the head of C&T if there were any problems with Regis and was told “the problem would be resolved within a few days”.

Council members were told, at a strategy meeting in December last year, that Regis had some teething problems and that the processing of certificates should be completed within a few weeks.

On the same day, John Randall, director of professional standards, sent out an e-mail to senior staff, subsequently leaked to The Lawyer, describing Regis as “a real crisis”.

Law Society president Tony Girling said that allegations should be seen in the context of Society relations at the time.

See page 2

Robert Lindsay