Mears' debut sparks heated debate

LAW Society Council new-comer Martin Mears has stirred up a hornet's nest at his first meeting by proposing a controversial motion.

The Norfolk solicitor broke with years of tradition with a hard-hitting maiden speech, calling on the council to take a closer look at criticisms levelled by the honorary auditor in the society's annual report.

Mears, senior partner with Mears Hobbs & Durrant, who wrote in his election manifesto that he would not be joining “the Chancery Lane consensus”, sparked an angry debate lasting for well over an hour.

He argued that comments by Lawrence Bloomfield in the annual report, critical of staffing, training, and various society policies, were worthy of further attention.

“It's very much a public document and it needs a public response,” he said.

The motion calling for a working party to be set up was easily defeated but not before feathers had been ruffled.

Former society president Tony Holland, of Foot & Bowden in Plymouth, said: “I don't enjoy listening to a series of allegations and half truths and having to look at those to please one new member.”

Mike Howells, of Price Kelway, Milford Haven, was even more indignant.

“Most members have a sense of humility and don't speak in council until they have something sensible to contribute,” he said.

Vice-president John Young, who answered many of Bloomfield's specific criticisms, said the auditor had gone beyond his role and had made some points which were misconceived.

But Roger Wilson, of Sussex firm Malcolm Wilson & Cobby, said it would be “cosmetically wise” to do something to put the record straight for the profession.

John Franks, of Chethams, agreed: “The mistake is to try and sweep this under the carpet.”