Last updated:2023-09-18
Law Society No Confidence Vote
Solicitor, James Parry, has succeeded in gathering the necessary signatures to force a no-confidence vote in the leadership of the Law Society. Parry, who is a partner in a criminal legal aid firm in Liverpool, told LAG that he had decided to initiate the move due to the Law Society’s “acquiescence to the Lord Chancellor’s demands” to cut the cost of criminal legal aid. The date of a special general meeting (SGM) to vote on Parry's proposal has to be set by the Law Society by today, (Monday 18th November).
Parry believes “there is no more slack” in the system as over the last few years“we have succeeded in cutting unit costs by 40%” and that if the 17.5% cut in criminal fees which the government is proposing goes ahead, “a lot of firms will disappear.” If he succeeds in getting a majority of solicitors attending the SGM to vote in favour of his motion to dismiss Law Society President, Nick Fluck and Chief Executive, Des Hudson, over their handling of negotiations with the Ministry of Justice on the proposals for criminal legal aid, the issue would then go to a ballot of all solicitors.
He told LAG he is confident that sufficient solicitors will attend the meeting to vote in favour of the motion, as he has been contacted “by in excess of 100 solicitors” pledging their support. These are in addition to the 121 who signed the motion. Parry believes that such is the level of concern over the Law Society’s handling of the negotiations that firms will be giving solicitors “paid time off to attend the meeting.”
Chief Executive, Des Hudson, has hit back at Parry’s suggestion that the Law Society had nothing to lose by leading “outright opposition” to the government’s proposals. According to Hudson, “It is only through engagement that we have made the progress we have in persuading the government to abandon its plans for price competitive tendering.” He warned that “Parry would taking a big risk with the livelihoods of solicitors” if he was to force the Law Society to stop negotiating with the MoJ as they could “end-up with something far worse than has been agreed.”
LAG believes solicitors should be wary of falling into the trap of blaming their leaders and not the government for what is happening to criminal legal aid. We argue that these machinations inside the Law Society are an unnecessary diversion. Hudson and co might be guilty of perhaps overselling the deal with the government, but we are not convinced that James Parry is articulating any real alternative. Both sides agree that the cuts in fees proposed will have a damaging impact on firms and the quality of criminal defence services. Getting this message across to the government can only be achieved by constructive engagement with them. It is also unclear  whether a vote at an SGM has the power to remove the Law Society President from office or, the Chief Executive from his post. LAG fears Parry's campaign could ultimately prove to be a futile and expensive empty gesture.