CHANCERY Lane's warring factions are presenting a united front against a campaign to split the Law Society into two.

Martin Mears, the Law Society president, and his deputy Robert Sayer, have distanced themselves from the new Solicitors' Association Steering Group which wants to split the society's representative and regulatory functions.

While expressing sympathy for the campaign, led by conveyancing fees campaigners John Edge and Anthony Bogan, the presidential pair have endorsed the long-held Law Society view that it should hold on to its dual role.

Sayer said he sympathised with the plan but it would be a “shame” to split the society just when he and Mears were evening out the balance between regulation and representation in favour of representation.

The steering group is the latest of a bewildering array of grassroots anti-establishment initiatives which include a call by Edge for a special general meeting to secure a general election of council members.

Bogan, who was elected to the council last year and is a key member of Mears' reform group, said: “We have come to the conclusion that the representative arm of the profession is taking second place to the police arm.”

He said the society should become an exclusively regulatory authority and a new solicitors association should be set up to act as a trade union.

The steering group has embarked on a consultation excercise to test the level of support for such a move.