Jonah goes overboard

A certain past president of the Law Society, writing under the pen-name 'Jonah', recently criticised me for daring to suggest on prime-time TV that some solicitors might be reluctant to publish their charging rates for fear of being prevented from "stinging" their less commercially-minded clients.

The core of the criticism seems to be that, as an elected member of the Society's council, I should not be making such suggestions outside the confines of Chancery Lane.

There are crucial questions of principle here about the role and duties of council members. I invite that particular past president to disclose whether he agrees with me that:

the objects of the Law Society and therefore of its council include "promoting professional improvement"

the society's role compels it to have regard to the well-being of the public as well as of the profession in setting and enforcing standards of conduct

the society would do itself no credit in the eye of clients and consumers by trying to stifle public debate on fundamental questions of public concern.

I will save Mr Mears some time in looking up the law. The contents of the first question lie in the society's 1845 charter. The second is contained in unchallenged comments of the House of Lords in Swain v Law Society 1982. The third is self-evident. I also observe that the name 'Jonah' has a number of synonyms, including 'malcontent' and 'complainer'.

David McIntosh

Davies Arnold Cooper