Society members lash out at 'flawed' software

Law Society Council members have called for the society's flagship computer package for high street firms to be scrapped following the publication of an independent consultants' report which called it “deeply flawed”.

As The Lawyer predicted last week, the report by Oxford Law and Computing pulled no punches in its criticism of the High Street Starter Kit on which £175,000 has already been spent. It said: “It is not yet ready for a pilot and even less prepared for commercial release.”

The report continued: “The prototype software is deeply flawed in its current form.

“It is not strictly a program, but a set of screen forms, queries and macros strung together over a table structure which lacks any means of establishing and maintaining the integrity of the data, of validating the entries or of preserving security.”

Robin ap Cynan, chairman of the society's practice development committee, had planned to ask last week's council meeting for £777,000 more to be spent on developing the kit. He said there had been expressions of interest from more than 500 high street practices, but he added that the consultant's report forced him to withdraw the recommendation until further investigations could be made.

Former vice-president Robert Sayer called for the system to be scrapped. “The kit looks great when it is demonstrated, but the problems only appear when you try and use it. We can either go ahead and pretend nothing is wrong or cut out the nonsense and stop it,” he said.

But ap Cynan said: “The consultants have identified a problem, but they need to investigate further to find out how big a problem it is and what the costings and timetable might be.

“Council does not have enough information on which to have a debate.”

He added that he would report back to the council at its January meeting, when it could then vote on whether or not to scrap the software package.