Vote 'No; No' in the Referendum on Alternative Business Structures

All of us hold dear the principles essential to the administration of justice in Scotland: independence, confidentiality, avoiding conflicts of interest. All of us regard justice not as a product at the sole mercy of profit but as a crucial service that must be available for all our communities in Scotland. All of us now have a chance to re-affirm these ideals. Vote NO; NO to the Law Society Referendum.

To not do so would be to open up control of our legal services to purely commercial organisations. No amount of regulations or regulators stopped the banks undermining our whole banking system. ABS will allow them to now ruin our legal services.

Non-profitable areas will be abandoned - supermarkets and other so called entities are geared solely by profit. No amount of regulation will stop legal services being used as a portal for money laundering and other similar activities - our legal services will be open to criminal control.

There should be no role for the Law Society of Scotland in regulating such people. No Guarantee Fund or Master Policy could cope with this. A NO; NO vote will stop all of this in its tracks.

We need to refocus our legal services on Scotland’s communities and citizens. They deserve better. We need to send a message to the Scottish Government to think again. We must reform our Law Society as it has shown itself incapable of representing all of those trying to render a legal service in Scotland now and in the future.

We must seek to re-affirm, through any such reform, the principles crucial to the administration of justice. We must also ensure that the legal service is preserved and improved across the whole range of needs of the Scottish people and their communities. Join us to begin to make this happen and ensure you vote NO; NO by noon, 7 April 2010.

FRANK MAGUIRE, Senior Partner and Solicitor Advocate, Thompsons Solicitors
JOHN McGOVERN, Solicitor Advocate, President of the Glasgow Bar Association
WALTER SEMPLE, Solicitor, Member of the Council of the Law Society of Scotland
MIKE DAILLY, Principal Solicitor, Govan Law Centre
PATRICK McGUIRE, Solicitor Advocate and Partner, Thompsons Solicitors

Friday, 16 April 2010

The integrity and good reputation of the solicitor branch of Scotland's legal profession was safeguarded this morning when the reconvened Special General Meeting of the Law Society of Scotland (LSS) took place in Edinburgh.

Today's meeting had been formally called by the LSS, but representatives of the Council of the LSS had subsequently purported to postpone today's meeting to next week, notwithstanding this was clearly unconstitutional and contrary to established case law. The danger was if today's meeting had not proceded the reconvened SGM would have been unlawful, and the Law Society of Scotland would have been open to challenge before the courts, and criticism for disrespecting the due process of Scots law.

Thirty three solicitors from Aberdeen, Dundee, Dumfries, Glasgow and Edinburgh attended the reconvened SGM this morning at Edinburgh's Sheraton Hotel. The purpose in attending was to protect the integrity of the Society and profession they held dear, and to properly preserve the SGM motion, and respect the rule of the law in Scotland.

The Registrar, staff and President of the LSS had been fully informed that the meeting was proceeding as called, but declined to attend. In their absence and in accordance with the LSS Constitution, the meeting agreed to appoint a member of the Council of the LSS to chair the reconvened SGM. Walter Semple took the chair, and the meeting agreed to appoint Ross Anderson, solicitor as legal advisor to the chairman.

In the absence of LSS staff, the meeting agreed unanimouslly to suspend Standing Orders so that it could formally appoint a minute taker. Catriona Walker, solicitor, was so appointed. A discussion took place on why the the notice calling next week's 'SGM' was void and unlawful with reference to the case law. The meeting endorsed this legal opinion.

The chairman, Walter Semple, and others who spoke, agreed that it would not have been appropriate to take a vote on the substantive motion today in the spirit of openess, transparency and fairness of debate, and that the honourable thing to do was to agree to adjourn today's SGM to the purported SGM meeting of next week, and in so doing curing the unlawful notice issued at the behest of Ian Smart, and other representatives of the Council of LSS.

The meeting unanimously agreed to do so, and in so doing restored dignity, honour, and credibility to the SGM debate on Alternative Business Structures in Scotland.



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