Elly defends Young in title fight

LAW Society President Charles Elly has mounted a spirited defence of his deputy John Young as the profession gears up for the first contested presidential election in decades.

Attacking the two surprise contenders for the leadership for having the arrogance to believe they can do a better job, Elly urges the profession to vote for Young.

He says he and Young have worked closely together to ensure the leadership can be handed over smoothly in the summer and warns a vote for rival candidates Martin Mears or Eileen Pembridge will snub the City.

Clearly angered by the challenge to Young, Elly says it creates months of uncertainty at an important time for the profession.

“This is not a symbol of crisis, it is a situation where some people are arrogant enough to think they will be able to do a better job,” he says.

Both Young, of City firm Cameron Markby Hewitt, and Elly defend the traditional election system which has seen the deputy vice president elected by the council each year and before being automatically elevated to the presidency.

But Mears, of Norfolk-based Mears Hobbs & Durrant, and Pembridge, of the south London legal aid firm Fisher Meredith, are united in proclaiming the current system as outdated and undemocratic.

Both challengers claim they can tap a groundswell of anti-establishment feeling when the profession is balloted by post on 14 June.

Pembridge says the traditional gentleman's club “Buggins' turn” election system has turned up some presidents who have been good enough but she has not been happy with Young's candidacy as an example of the genre. She will fight on the legal aid platform.

Mears is sharing a platform with Robert Sayer, of London firm Sayer Moore & Co, who is challenging deputy vice president Henry Hodge for the vice presidency.

Young says: “I think Henry Hodge and I have got to win if we're going to have an effective leadership but I don't denigrate what the others have to say.”

The result of the election, which the Law Society estimates will cost u40,000, will be announced at the AGM to be held on 13 July.