Action group takes Law Society Council to task over government links

A group of Law Society members has hit out at its representative body for becoming too close to government and out of touch with the needs of the profession ahead of this Thursday’s (14 July) annual general meeting.

A group of around 70 lawyers has lodged a motion, called ‘resolution 5’, damning the Law Society Council’s policy of hiving off regulation and calling for it to remain accountable to the profession.

The motion also calls for any change to the council’s regulatory powers, enshrined in the Solicitors Act 1974, to be put to a profession-wide ballot.

Michael Garson, the Richmond lawyer leading the push, said the moves to effectively transfer the Law Society Council’s regulatory powers to government are “premature, ill-prepared, incomplete and driven by government interference”.

A statement in support of the resolution says: “Solicitors are bound to an ethical profession and have no wish to become a government-controlled ‘industry’. The Law Society is out of touch with the realities of everyday legal practice and has lost sight of ‘the bigger picture’ – it listens to the voice of government instead of that of its members.”

A spokesman for the Law Society said: “The council consulted its members in March 2004 on the principle of separation. The profession was clear. It favoured the retention of regulation and representation within one body but with a clear distinction between the two. This is what the council has decided to do. It would be irresponsible to require a postal ballot on this issue at a cost of up to £100,000 of members’ money.”