Scottish Law Agents Society - News http://www.scottishlawagents.org.uk/news Scottish Law Agents Society - News http://www.scottishlawagents.org.uk/ Scottish Law Agents Society - News http://www.scottishlawagents.org.uk/news en-gb Copyright 2018 Scottish Law Agents Society. All Rights Reserved. Scottish Law Agents Society http://www.scottishlawagents.org.uk <![CDATA[Maggie Scanlan - A Memorial Party ]]> http://www.scottishlawagents.org.uk/news/maggie-scanlan-memorial-party /node/3020 /node/3020#comments Maggie Scanlan – A Memorial Party

One thing that Maggie loved was a good party and preferably with a sing song. Some of her friends have now booked the Corinthian on Ingram Street in Glasgow for Friday 9th March 2018 from 7pm to share stories and recollections of Maggie over some good food and wine.

The cost is £40 per person for a three course meal.

If you can join this occasion then please reply to Clair McLachlan at  cm@russellsgm.co.uk and please make payment no later than Monday 26th February. Payment can be made by cheque to Sheridans, 166 Buchanan Street, Glasgow, G1 2LW, DX GW266, LP 5 Glasgow 7 or direct into the bank account shown below.

 

Sheridans

Bank of Scotland

80-54-01

00810255

REF: Scanlan Memorial Dinner.

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General Fri, 16 Feb 2018 13:38:38 +0000
<![CDATA[Notice of General Meeting ]]> http://www.scottishlawagents.org.uk/news/notice-general-meeting /node/3018 /node/3018#comments NOTICE OF GENERAL MEETING 

When?: Tuesday 6th March 2018, 5.30pm 

Where?: Royal Faculty of Procurators in Glasgow, 12 Nelson Mandela Place, Glasgow, G2 1BT

OPEN TO NON SLAS MEMBERS 

The Agenda can be found at http://www.scottishlawagents.org/news/general-meeting-6th-march-2018-530...

For anyone who cannot attend and wishes to fill in an Open Proxy Form, please contact secretary@slas.co.uk 

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Press Releases Mon, 12 Feb 2018 10:49:59 +0000
<![CDATA[General Meeting 6th March 2018 5.30pm - Agenda ]]> http://www.scottishlawagents.org.uk/news/general-meeting-6th-march-2018-530pm-agenda /node/3017 /node/3017#comments Notice of General Meeting 6th March 2018 

When?: Tuesday 6th March 2018 5.30pm 

Where?: Royal Faculty of Procurators in Glasgow, 12 Nelson Mandela Place, Glasgow, G2 1BT 

OPEN TO NON SLAS MEMBERS 

 AGENDA

 

  1. Attendance and apologies

 

  1. Introduction by the President of the Scottish Law Agents Society

 

  1. Motion This meeting calls upon the Council of the Scottish Law Agents Society to appoint a suitable agent to move the next AGM of the Law Society of Scotland to call upon the Council of the Law Society of Scotland :

3.1   to make inquiry and report to the membership of the Society as to the number and proportion of solicitors’ practices in Scotland which are owned by entities situated outwith Scotland

3.2   to make inquiry and report to the membership of that Society as to the number and proportion of Scottish solicitors are engaged as partners or employees or directors or otherwise by entities situated out with Scotland.

3.3   To intimate to the current Independent Review of the Regulation of Legal Services that this meeting opposes the authorisation of the ownership of legal practices by persons other than solicitors both (a) in general principle and (b) as proposed by the Legal Services (Scotland) Act 2010

3.4   To make inquiry and report to the membership of the Society as to the costs now incurred and the costs likely to be incurred by members of the Society as a result of the current litigations between the Law Society of Scotland and the Scottish Legal complaints Commission by virtue of (a) the representation instructed by the Law Society of Scotland and (b) the representation instructed by the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission.

3.5   To make inquiry and report to the membership as to the perceived benefits to (a) the solicitors’ profession and (b) the general public of Scotland of those litigations.

3.6   To inquire of the Keeper of the Registers of Scotland as to whether the operation of the Land register etc (Scotland) Act 2012 since 12th December 2014 has involved the exclusion from registration of any rights of property that had been previously recorded in the Register of Sasines or registered in he Land register of Scotland

3.7   To request the Keeper of the Registers of Scotland to make inquiry and set out a schedule of such rights which have been excluded from registration in terms of 3.7 above showing in each case the name of the respective registration county and the nature f the right so excluded.

3.8   To make enquiry and report as to what proportion of adverse accounts inspection reports in terms of Practice Rule 6.11 would  be avoided if balances of less than (i) - £50.00 and separately, (ii) - £100.00, were ignored as de minimus.

 

  1. Motion:  This meeting calls upon the Council of the Society to move the next AGM of the Law Society of Scotland to amend the Constitution of the Law Society of Scotland so that :

(a)   paragraph 14(5) shall read

“ It shall be competent at any General Meeting to demand a poll or to vote by proxy”

And (b) paragraph 14 (10) shall read

“Where a resolution is proposed for the amendment of this Constitution, it shall, in respect that resolution, not be competent to vote in advance of or at the  relevant General Meeting in terms of Article 14(1}.”

 

  1.  Any Other Competent Business

 

 

Note:  1. Voting will be by poll at the meeting. Proxy votes will be included if called for by two members of the Society present at the meeting and if authorised by the chair but only where the proxy has been delivered to the secretary of the Society not less than 48 hours prior to the commencement of the meeting and only where the proxy is a member of the Society.

 

2.This meeting is open to all members of the Scottish Law Agents Society who apply for registration on or before close of business on 28th February 2017 and also to all Scottish solicitors whose applications for registration have been received on or before that date and granted prior to the commencement of the meeting. Application may only be made in writing by email to secretary@slas.co.uk, by fax to 0141 353 3819 or by postal or other delivery to Scottish Law Agents Society 166 Buchanan Street Glasgow G1 2LW.

 

3. The Council of the Scottish Law Agents Society calls this meeting subject to the condition that, in the event of insufficient registrations having been received by 28th February 2018, the meeting may be cancelled.  This is out of consideration to those members and others who might otherwise travel to a meeting which will serve no purpose and to avoid unnecessary inconvenience to the members and officials of both Societies. The sufficiency or otherwise shall be determined at the discretion of the Council of the Scottish Law Agents Society.

 

 

 

 

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General Mon, 12 Feb 2018 10:46:35 +0000
<![CDATA[New Law Society Consultation on Change to Conflict of Interest Rules ]]> http://www.scottishlawagents.org.uk/news/new-law-society-consultation-change-conflict-interest-rules /node/3015 /node/3015#comments We would ask members to note that the Law Society of Scotland announced a consultation on proposed changes to the Conflict of Interest Rules. This was announced on 19th January 2018 and a response is due by the 16th of February 2018.

When such a short consultation period is proposed, one has to doubt whether there is any serious intention to receive a response.  Nevertheless, if members would wish SLAS to mention any particular matters in response to this consultation, then please advise the Secretary by email at Secretary@slas.co.uk.

Details of the proposed changes can be found within the consultation papers found on the Law Society’s website at https://www.lawscot.org.uk/media/359481/consultationpapersjan18.pdf

Members should consider these papers and ensure to submit a response before the 16th of February at conflictofinterestconsult@lawscot.org.uk

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Press Releases Thu, 08 Feb 2018 10:40:48 +0000
<![CDATA[Urgent Notice ]]> http://www.scottishlawagents.org.uk/news/urgent-notice /node/3014 /node/3014#comments We were recently informed of the Special General Meeting of the Law Society of Scotland to be held at 5.30pm on Thursday 25 January at Law Society of Scotland Atria One, 144 Edinburgh EH3 8EX.

We were informed also that electronic voting on two motions at that meeting would be open from 15th to 24 January 2018. However, from 15th to 18th January there was no information available as to what would be the relative motions or as to how to vote on them. Votes may be cast also in person at the meeting.

Then, shortly after 9 AM on 18th January we received an email with one link to the relevant motions and another link to access the electronic voting system.

When we followed the first link this led to the proposal that solicitors should be required to report upon suspicious activities of other solicitors (snoopers’ charter). There were, however, no voting arrangements available through the second link.

During the course of the morning of 18th January, however, these details changed. The first link became a link to the agenda for the meeting and the second link became an effective link to the voting system.

From my own inspection of the details of the motions, these appear now to be anodyne requirements to bring money laundering regulations into our practice rules. I do not now intend to register any vote

However, we are aware that there are moves afoot to bring in the snooper's charter referred to above and members are urgently advised to satisfy themselves as to what is happening at the SGM on 25th January 2018 and also as to what is going to happen at the Law Society AGM later this year.

Members are requested also to advise us of any difficulties they may encounter either in accessing relevant information or in casting their votes

 

Secretary

18th January 2018

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General Mon, 22 Jan 2018 15:47:31 +0000
<![CDATA[ LSS SGM - 25th January 2018]]> http://www.scottishlawagents.org.uk/news/lss-sgm-25th-january-2018 /node/3013 /node/3013#comments STOP PRESS  LSS  SGM

25TH January 2018

 

The SGM agenda will be sent out this Wednesday with the online electronic voting opening at noon that day till the following Wednesday. There are two motions on the agenda. The first relates to changes in LSS  incidental financial business rules due to a new EU insurance distribution directive. The second motion relates to changes in the practice rules in relation to complaints recording and the new anti money laundering regulations.

We are concerned that these new practice rules might impose a duty upon solicitors to snoop and report upon each other and that the terms of such a requirement may be inconsistent with confidentiality and privilege and mutual trust within the profession.

At present, we cannot confirm what precisely has to be voted upon but we shall update our website at www.slas.co.uk as soon as we reasonably can. We would ask members to watch for information and to be sure to lodge an electronic vote, if so advised. Otherwise, you may, at your own peril, simply ignore this development

MS 

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Press Releases Mon, 15 Jan 2018 13:00:17 +0000
<![CDATA[MARGARET SCANLAN OBE]]> http://www.scottishlawagents.org.uk/news/margaret-scanlan-obe /node/3012 /node/3012#comments We are sorry to record that Maggie Scanlan of Glasgow passed away on Saturday morning 6th January 2018 and we are sadly bereaved of a wonderful friend and colleague.  Many of us have fond memories of Maggie and many also have reason to remember her for her help and advice in the course of her professional career.

We will publish a tribute to Maggie in our next Gazette and if you have a reminiscence to include then please send this to secretary@slas.co.uk or otherwise to the secretary.

MS

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General Mon, 08 Jan 2018 10:58:54 +0000
<![CDATA[Scale Fees]]> http://www.scottishlawagents.org.uk/news/scale-fees /node/3011 /node/3011#comments Of course the return to scale fees is widely regarded among the legal profession and elsewhere as being unlikely, infeasible and unattractive. That leads us to consider the alternatives. If law firms are compelled to compete on prices, how do they go about it and does that operate in the public interest ?
Nowadays when prospective clients email around firms for quotations of conveyancing costs and when competition for ever cheaper deals is the way of the world in many if not all markets and when the term “bucket shop conveyancing” has come into use, practitioners may well be inclined to look for ways of reducing costs to clients. The following have been noticed.

1. Increased volume of clients.

If more clients are paying fees to the firm then it follows that the fees charged to individual clients may be reduced. If these reductions bring in even more clients then, of course, the fees can be reduced even more, and so on. One way to stimulate volume is to make special arrangements with estate agents and other agencies so that they will effectively push clients in your direction. The arrangement may well be that you will direct all your estate agency requirements to a particular agent and that agent, in turn, will direct his “solicitor free” business to yourself. Of course, some awkward customers might wish to instruct a particular solicitor, possibly one previously associated with that customer’s family or a solicitor of whom that customer has heard other people speak highly. Such reluctance can often be overcome by the inducement of “a special deal” or perhaps an insinuation that failure to use the appropriate solicitor might in some way hamper the business in hand. It is beyond the scope of this note to explore all the ways and means ofsuch other agencies. Such arrangements were previously regarded as bad form, under the description of touting but they are now practised quite openly and make obvious, good commercial sense, at least in the short term. On the longer term it may hand economic influence and a degree of control over the law firms to outside agencies and, of course, fashions might change again and this might be challenged as being unprofessional conduct. The question as to whether or not it is a fair way to run business does not appear to arise at lest currently. However, as Mr Fallon pointed out recently, what is all right one day might not be acceptable another day.

2. Systemisation of unqualified staff

Of course, certain essential elements of the conveyancing transaction constitute reserved work in terms of the Solicitors (Scotland) Act 1980 and can only be carried out, in consideration of fees, by qualified solicitors. However, if we have stimulated our clientele as suggested in 1 above then it follows that we might need more solicitors to carry out these reserved services. This would involve the payment of professional salaries. A way round this is to engage and train a number of non qualified persons and design a system of operation which enables a routine transaction to be carried out without the direct involvement of a solicitor but which will highlight any circumstances out of the ordinary which might require the attention of a solicitor who will, in any case, sign off any necessary papers required for the completion of the reserved work. While it might frustrate some clients not to meet and talk with a solicitor during the transaction, the lure of cheaper fees is likely to be sufficient compensation. The main downside here is the risk of allowing reserved work and work associated with reserved work to be carried out by persons who do not have a background of having studied and obtained relevant qualifications in the law and practice of property, contract and conveyancing. This risk affects the interests of the client and of the law practice and of the insurance which supports the whole legal profession and also of the public in having the property registers accurately updated.

3. Minimise the technical work

While it was once upon a time sufficient evidence of transfer of ownership for the seller to hand the purchaser a clod of earth taken from the property, in more recent times, since 1617, this operation has depended on relative paperwork. The study of the paperwork associated with a particular property and the drawing up of the document required to transfer its ownership can sometimes be quite complicated. What if a particular owner has died, gone mad or disappeared? What if there are conditions associated with the ownership? What if the keeper of the Land Register has made subtle changes in the Register affecting the ownership of that property but without telling the owner about these changes? What if the previous owner is or has been subject to insolvency so that his apparent legitimate ownership and therefore your client’s subsequent ownership might be subject to cancellation by the previous owner’s creditors? What if some previous owner of the property has carried out alterations to the property without local authority planning permission or building consent? Resolving these issues can be time consuming and involve the use of solicitors, two factors which conflict with the objective of turning over suitable volumes of fees. Not all, but some of these issues can be solved with the use of insurance indemnity. I have very little experience of this operation and what follow is largely guess work. The insurance indemnity appears to operate on the basis that so few transactions are actually turned belly up by these issues that the insurers find it worthwhile, in exchange for a regular inflow of premiums, to meet the financial consequences of such an event. This does not appear to me to address the uninsurable but significant adverse consequences of the collapse of a purchase/sale transaction, a circumstance which is likely to cause considerable inconvenience to those involved. However, like being shot by a terrorist, it is never likely to happen to any particular individual and so it should mostly be ok. A downside is that errors and omissions which have no immediate financial consequences may become embedded in the system and create risks for future clients and conveyancers.

4. Avoid Unnecessary Searches

Traditionally, when a client purchased a residential property, searches were required at two stages. In the first place, when the initial contract was entered and the purchaser is called upon to enter a legal obligation to purchase the property, it was thought to be necessary to carry out searches against the ownership title, the conditions of that title, the existence of mortgages and also the solvency of the owner. Such searches would provide early warning of any unpleasant incidents that would disturb the transaction if not uncovered until a later stage and which might then be resolved in time for that settlement. The second occasion on which such searches are required arises at the time of the settlement of the transaction and payment of the purchase price. Things might have changed since the searches were carried out at the contract stage and those initial searches now have to be updated. That means two lots of searches. The modern logic is, however, to borrow from methods observed to operate south of the border. What if we do not bother with an initial contract? Then we do not need initial searches. This results in an immediate reduction of transaction expenses. This also means, unfortunately, that nobody can know until the very last minute whether the transaction is going to proceed or whether the searches might reveal something which either prevents or postpones the transaction but, again, just as the assassin’s blade is unlikely to find any particular individual, we can assume that it will not happen in any particular transaction. This is a strategy which works well, most of the time, and which certainly reduces the cost of conveyancing.

The obvious downside is that something might go wrong at the last minute when the searches are carried out. The seller might transpire to be subject to an insolvency and have no legal power to sell the property or there may be a second mortgage over the property and no arrangements in hand for that mortgage to be discharged in time for the present transaction to settle, to mention only two of a very wide range of possibilities. If the Searches had been carried out at the outset then these matters might have been addressed in time for the transaction to proceed. Also, if the selling solicitor “Knew his client” then he would have known long in advance about such difficulties. There is also an important issue of public interest. The removal of the initial contract from the process potentially destabilises the market so that the practices of gazumping and gazundering which were traditionally always associated with the English market, now become possible in the Scottish market also. Apart from individual inconvenience, the effect of gazumping and gazundering is sometimes seen as causing fluctuations in property prices to gather momentum, leading to high values, high mortgages followed by negative equity and repossessions etc. The Scottish market, stabilised by the principal of contract was generally proof against these incidents. But these are matters of public interest and hardly relevant to the interests of an individual purchaser who seeks simply to have his conveyancing costs reduced to the minimum. The question is whether the solicitor has a duty to the public interest. What is the answer ?

I hope that it is clear that much of the foregoing is based on subjective opinion and is not intended to be dogmatic in any way. Other views are welcome for publication on this website.

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General Fri, 03 Nov 2017 16:27:07 +0000
<![CDATA[Christmas Party 2016 Recap]]> http://www.scottishlawagents.org.uk/news/christmas-party-2016-recap /node/3008 /node/3008#comments  

 

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General Fri, 04 Aug 2017 09:42:53 +0100
<![CDATA[THE GAZETTE: APOLOGY AND EXPLANATION]]> http://www.scottishlawagents.org.uk/news/gazette-apology-and-explanation /node/3007 /node/3007#comments THE GAZETTE: APOLOGY AND EXPLANATION

 

We have to apologise for the late production of the June 2017 Gazette number 85/2 which is now scheduled to land on your desks by mid August. The first practical reason for this is quite simply absence due to illness on the part of key personnel.  However, we have also had some difficult material to deal with.  This relates to changes taking place in operations at the Land Register.  While many members advise that they are having difficulty with the registration of titles and difficulties also with titles which have previously been registered or recorded and while we have addressed these difficulties to the Law Society and to the Keeper, the response which we have received is that there are no such difficulties. We hope that that may be the case but the information which we have received indicates otherwise.  In particular we are advised that some existing, registered or recorded rights in land have been excluded from the register and that  a widespread amendment of existing titles has been carried out by the Keeper without reference to the affected proprietors. Again this might not give rise to any problems because the changes may be required simply to keep up with adjustments to the Ordnance Survey map. At the same time, some members are uneasy in principle about this development.  We deal with this matter in the current Gazette but clearly there is an onus on our profession to scrutinise closely any possible threat to the reliability of land registration.

 

MS

 

 

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General Thu, 03 Aug 2017 16:05:16 +0100
<![CDATA[Alternative Business Structures in 2017]]> http://www.scottishlawagents.org.uk/news/alternative-business-structures-2017 /node/3006 /node/3006#comments Alternative Business Structures in 2017

The Scottish Law Agents Society was formed in 1884 as the first national, representative and regulatory body for Scottish solicitors. It was a voluntary convention formalised by a Royal Charter of Queen Victoria, which was amended by Charter of George V and then updated by Charter of Queen Elizabeth II. Its immediate mission in 1884 was the creation of a compulsory society as the best means of securing proper standards of education, training and professional practice within the profession. That objective was achieved in 1949 with the statutory creation of the Law Society of Scotland. Some discerning members of the profession have maintained the existence of the voluntary society in order to provide the profession with a forum for discussion and opinion outwith the statutory shadow which hangs over the compulsory body. The wisdom of doing so may have been demonstrated by the following developments.

A new business profile has been presented to the legal profession in which the ownership of law firms would no longer be restricted to qualified lawyers, but could be extended to other professional persons, such as accountants and surveyors and even be shared with commercial institutions such as banks and supermarkets. This would supposedly provide lawyers with opportunities of offering a wider range of services, securing business from the clients of these joint professional owners and of access to financial services and borrowing from institutional investment part-owners and the facility of providing legal services at locations more convenient to the customers, for example, at supermarkets. More immediately, it would provide any large or medium sized Scottish firms, who happened to be suffering from financial discomfort with an opportunity to secure future borrowing in exchange for part-ownership of their businesses, thus making cash available to pay the capital accounts of retiring or outgoing partners and leaving the ongoing profession to manage as best they could with their new, commercial bedfellows.

More immediately still, it would present the practising solicitor with a challenging conflict of interests between the client who seeks to minimise his legal expenses and the investor and shareholding owners who are legally entitled to seek the maximisation of the profits to be derived from the fees paid by that client. If a solicitor’s practice is owned substantially by a bank or is part of a joint enterprise with firms of accountants or surveyors or whatever then how can that solicitor possibly advise independently on financial matters, asset valuation or property valuation? If the client turns out to be let down by any of these auxiliary professional services, then is his or her solicitor necessarily going to advise the client at the earliest opportunity as to any damage occasioned by such defective professional services? Might there be seen to be a temptation to seek a resolution which avoids the exposure of these deficiencies? It would certainly be in the financial interests of the solicitor to do so.

These changes were duly authorised by the Legal Services (Scotland) Act 2010. but have not yet reached the high street or the attention of the public, because of the difficulty in the creation of a regulatory framework. At the same time, our own Society continues to challenge the wisdom of the proposed changes in the interests of both the solicitors’ profession and of the public which it serves.

While this new regime appeared to be unacceptable in principle when it was initially proposed around 2008/2010, at least, at that time, there was an element of support within the profession. That was mainly centred upon the large firms, some of whom had particular balance sheet situations which could have been solved by the implementation of the legislation and the partial sale of these practices to financial interests outwith the profession. That time has now passed. The firms in question have mainly ceased to exist or become subject to non Scottish ownership. It is now difficult to envisage where there may be any significant support within the legal profession for the new regime. Nevertheless, the profession’s own statutory body appears intent on bringing it about and the Scottish government has indicated all along that this is being done at the instance of the legal profession. The original legislation is at least partially out of date due to other changes which have taken place in the meantime. .Accordingly, amending legislation may be required. That shall be something for our Council and membership to scrutinise and decide whether or not to challenge.

One difficulty in sustaining such opposition lies in the fact that, since 2010, successive generations of law students have been instructed at university that ABS, having been authorised by statute in 2010, already forms part of the provision of Scottish legal services. It is perhaps of less significance to academic lawyers than it is to practitioners that particular legislation, although enacted, is not yet in effect. That may be a function of the extent to which the profession has abrogated in favour of the universities its responsibilities to train and educate the future profession. Nevertheless, things may not be so bad. I attach below items recently received from prospective solicitors which show that somebody must be doing something right at University.
MS

SOLICITOR’S PROFESSION —A TRAINEE’S COMMENT

The profession of solicitor commanded respect within wider society. Solicitors were educated at a time when the majority of the public was illiterate, hence the term writer, and would dedicate a large portion of their lives to learning. They were collegiate. They were professionals.

Being a solicitor is now so far from what it used to be I struggle to see it as a profession any longer.

The need to compete, though healthy to a point, is damaging the quality and respectability of the profession. It is becoming a provider of legal services at the mercy of consumers. Charging by the hour or charging a fixed price for a particular service was the norm. Now you are only likely to find this type of feeing in private client practices.

Due to the collegiate nature of the profession there was an unwritten rule that one would not charge less that a particular amount for a particular job. Ensuring that a fair price was paid for the service. This meant that each firm would try and distinguish itself by the quality of work, rather than the price. The good firms would thrive, the bad, fail. This would naturally drive the standards of the profession higher as the solicitor tried to be a better practitioner than his rivals.

This practice was seen as anti-competitive and damaging to the consumer. And so it stopped and solicitors started finding new and imaginative ways to attract business. One such method is tendering.

Tendering involves a law firm bidding to potentials clients for business. It offers the services of its solicitors and support staff for a lower amount than the competition. It never knows the amount bid by its competitors and must therefore bid lower than it thinks the contract is actually worth to increase the chance of being the successful bidder, securing the lucrative contract.

At the end of the contract period the firm must tender once more. And here is where the problems arises: to be successful it must either offer the same work for less money, more work for the same money, or more work for less money. Either way the firm must devalue the service it provides in order to secure business or risk losing it to the competition. This is fine in the short term, but each time the firm tenders the result is more work and less money. This inevitably leads to the reduction of expenditure in order to maintain a profit. The biggest expenditure in a law firm is the wage of its solicitors. So it must reduce either the level of wage for new solicitors or the number of solicitors. This is happening right now in Scotland. Firms are squeezing out senior and associate level solicitors and replacing them with paralegals and trainees. Why have ten solicitors in a team when ten paralegals can do the work and have one solicitor supervise and sign their work?

In the diploma we are taught to think of the benefit of providing value added services to large clients and to be commercially aware, looking after the business of our clients. This is normalising a behaviour that is eroding the profession of solicitor. We are being conditioned to think solicitors are just an extension of the client’s business—members of staff who just happen to know the law, rather than legal agents who use their knowledge of the law, their ability to think critically, and a high standard of professionalism to represent their client’s interest against all others. This is symptomatic of the devaluation of the profession. And the worst part is, we are told that young solicitors feel the old solicitors who are against innovation and modernisation are the greatest danger to the profession. If the above is the innovation and modernisation they strive for, then the greatest threat to the profession is the solicitors who have forgotten what it means to be a solicitor; a member of one of the oldest professions in the country and an officer of court, not a provider of legal services.

Another trainee wrote : "How do we reconcile the duties we have towards other members of the profession with the fact that we are increasingly competing with each other for work? The legal profession seems to have become a business rather than a profession so how can the ethics and values associated with the profession, particularly those associated with relationships with other members of the profession be maintained?"

MS

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General Fri, 23 Jun 2017 11:12:19 +0100
<![CDATA[SLAS Christmas Party with Lord Gill]]> http://www.scottishlawagents.org.uk/news/slas-christmas-party-lord-gill /node/3005 /node/3005#comments As now widely advertised, the SLAS Christmas Party will feature, as well as the second edition of the law agent's home companion with choral signing by the Glasgow Laulau choir singing acapella, a talk by Sheriff Alf Vannet and classic songs by Kathleen Burgess- a short delivery by Lord Gill on the subject of the separation of powers. By coincidence, that is the very topic of a case currently being argued before a full panel of 11 Justices at the Supreme Court at Westminster. We cannot take credit for having arranged that juxtaposition of events, or at least some of them. This will be held at the Royal Faculty in Glasgow from 5:30pm on Thursday 15th December 2016 and, if you wish to attend then please contact the Secretary, Michael Sheridan by email at secretary@slas.co.uk or by telephone on 0141 332 3536. As the function includes hospitality, we require to close for bookings at 5pm on Monday 12th December 2016. Time is short and you should book your attendance now.

 

This event was duly delivered and is currently under construction as a prospective podcast.

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General Tue, 06 Dec 2016 16:52:38 +0000
<![CDATA[SLAS Christmas party 2016]]> http://www.scottishlawagents.org.uk/news/slas-christmas-party-2016 /node/3004 /node/3004#comments The Christmas party this year will be something completely different. We have so much talent on show that we are reluctant to let it all fade into memory. Instead we will present the programme as podcast which will be preserved for future presentation on our website and possibly beyond. The programme is shown in the attached brochure and, while this includes a contribution by the former Lord President, Lord Gill who is currently serving on the Supreme Court panel at Westminster, Lord Gill’s contribution will not be included in the podcast and the only opportunity to hear this will be by joining the live, studio audience at the Royal Faculty in Glasgow.

We had asked Lord Gill to address the question of the separation of the powers within the constitution before that issue was raised in the context of Brexit before the Supreme Court and, as a result, we are particularly interested to hear the comments of Lord Gill.

Members and guests attending the event will be invited to contribute to the podcastable outcome by responding, for example, to applause etc., prompts and by generally assisting the production of the programme. We shall convene a short rehearsal before the programme begins.

Sheriff Alf Vannet has delighted us in the past with his lively insight into the legal process and we have asked him on this occasion to address the long standing question as to who has the harder task and the greater intellect, the judge or the advocate – not that that is a guarantee as to where Sheriff Vannet’s remarks may take us on the night.

However, it is Christmas after all and we will include some classic Christmas and other music from the Finnish Glasgow Laulu Choir singing a cappella and from Kathleen Burgess who was trained at the now Royal Conservatoire of Glasgow.

The ticket price includes a finger buffet and refreshments and we hope that the Society’s membership will support the excellent value of this bold endeavour in large numbers.

Those interested in attending the event should have their applications with the Secretary by 5pm on Monday 12th December 2016.

This event was duly delivered and is currently under construction as a prospective podcast.

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Member News Mon, 21 Nov 2016 12:30:11 +0000
<![CDATA[Another Scam]]> http://www.scottishlawagents.org.uk/news/another-scam /node/3001 /node/3001#comments A member tells me today that he was due to settle a conveyancing sale transaction but the money did not arrive. It transpired that the money had been sent to received by and passed on from the wrong bank. It further transpired that, before settlement, an email had been issued by an interloper, bearing to have been sent by the selling solicitor and instructing the purchasing solicitor to direct the funds to a particular (wrong) bank. I understand that the interloping email was subject to spelling and grammatical deficiencies. Perhaps the lesson is that we cannot trust anything communicated by email and where financial transmissions are involved we always have to obtain confirmation. In this particular case, however, i gather that the interloping email included a apparent mandate by the selling client, set out on headed note paper.

Secretary

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General Wed, 15 Jun 2016 16:25:42 +0100
<![CDATA[SLAS AGM calling]]> http://www.scottishlawagents.org.uk/news/slas-agm-calling /node/3000 /node/3000#comments This is to remind members that the AGM takes place at 5:30pm on Thursday 16th June 2016 at the Royal Faculty of Procurators in Glasgow. If you propose to attend this meeting please telephone the Secretary beforehand 0141 332 3536 so that appropriate hospitality can be arranged.

Secretary 

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Press Releases Wed, 15 Jun 2016 16:20:21 +0100
<![CDATA[Scottish Law Agents Society extended meeting in the Royal Hotel, Oban ]]> http://www.scottishlawagents.org.uk/news/scottish-law-agents-society-extended-meeting-royal-hotel-oban /node/2996 /node/2996#comments SCOTTISH LAW AGENTS' SOCIETY Scottish Law Agents Society - Royal Hotel, Oban 18th February 2016 Agenda for Extended Meeting – from 10.30 AM

1. The regulation of solicitors. (Appendix A)*

Is the regulation of solicitors by a regulatory committee in which solicitors are excluded from the majority and from the chair and which is subject to the oversight of Scottish ministers consistent with the constitutional doctrine of the separation of powers or do these provisions enable parliament and the executive to have excessive control of the legal profession as part of the judicial function of the constitution?

2. Land Registration Problems. (Appendix B)*

Has the Keeper replaced the objective of the registration of landownership with the objective of the creation of a cadastral map of Scotland and, if so, does this prevent the registration of heritable rights and what is the legal basis for doing so.

3. Alternative Business Structures. (Appendix C)*

We are still in the strange position that the Scottish Parliament authorised the non solicitor ownership of legal practices about five years ago in the Legal Services (Scotland) Act 2010. At that time the change was driven mainly by a majority of the large Scottish firms, the policy of some of whom at least appeared to be driven by their own balance sheet considerations. The proposals have been stymied from the time being because the powers that be have been unable to promulgate appropriate regulations to meet legal requirements, as we predicted would be the case from the outset. New legislation is now planned to obviate these difficulties – on the basis that, if the law doesn’t work for us then we just write a new law.

4. Virtual SLAS Council. (Appendix D)*

A mechanism for the solicitors’ profession to consider and respond promptly to issues arising. When even litigation can be conducted on the internet a Society which cannot conduct business online may be subject to a fatal disadvantage.

*For full details see attached PDFs

Practicing sSolicitors and in particular solicitors in the Highlands and Islands area are invited to join the above meeting on giving at least 48 hours of their intention to do so. If you do not attend the meeting but have views or information relevant to the above topics or any suggestions as to what matters should properly be addressed by a solicitors’ representative body then please advise by email to secretary@slas.co.uk

M Sheridan,

Secretary

 

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General Wed, 03 Feb 2016 15:29:53 +0000
<![CDATA[SLAS Christmas Party 2015]]> http://www.scottishlawagents.org.uk/news/slas-christmas-party-2015 /node/2991 /node/2991#comments SLAS Christmas Party 2015

Glasgow Laulu Choir

Members are invited to join the SLAS Christmas party at the Royal Faculty of Procurators in Glasgow from 5.30pm on Thursday 17th December 2015. This is a chance to meet your colleagues in the relaxed atmosphere of the Faculty with suitable refreshments.

We shall be entertained by a presentation of classical Christmas songs by the Glasgow Laulu Choir singing a cappella.

There is no charge for admission but numbers are limted and it is essential that you register your attendance with the secretary by Friday 11th December 2015, email secretary@slas.co.uk

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General Mon, 07 Dec 2015 11:18:33 +0000
<![CDATA[Michael Scanlan]]> http://www.scottishlawagents.org.uk/news/michael-scanlan /node/2990 /node/2990#comments It is with great regret that we announce the death of our former President, Michael Scanlan, who passed away this afternoon 20th October 2015. Michael died peacefully in hosptal after an illness and his wife, Margaret, was with him at the time.

 

MS

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General Tue, 20 Oct 2015 16:17:33 +0100
<![CDATA[Report Fraud and Internet Crime]]> http://www.scottishlawagents.org.uk/news/report-fraud-and-internet-crime /node/2989 /node/2989#comments The Law Society of Scotland is interested in being made aware of email scams (and other similar issues) which are sent to members. Contact fincomp@lawscot.org.uk

 

This maintains their awareness of the issues affecting members and enables LSS to issue timely alerts where necessary.

 

However the firms which receive these can also report these directly on the Action Fraud website;

 

http://www.actionfraud.police.uk/report_fraud

 

Action Fraud is the UK's national fraud reporting centre run by the National Fraud Authority with support from partners such as the City of London Police. Email scams can be quickly reported by clicking on the Report Scams and Viruses button on the link provided and then sending the suspicious email to the City of London Police email address provided on the website.   

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General Tue, 20 Oct 2015 14:51:33 +0100
<![CDATA[STOP PRESS!!! - Succession (Scotland) Bill]]> http://www.scottishlawagents.org.uk/news/stop-press-succession-scotland-bill /node/2988 /node/2988#comments The draft Bill now before Parliament proposes extensive changes to the law of succession in Scotland.  Many exisitng wills may be affected.  The Scottish Government has called for evidence as to the terms of this Bill to be submitted by 7th August 2015.  Practising solicitors are possibly in the best position to give relevant evidence.  All SLAS members are invited to study the terms of the Bill and to make their views known by email to secretary@slas.co.uk.  We will meet at 4pm in Glasgow on 30th July 2015 at the SLAS Offices at 166 Buchanan Street, Glasgow when we will consider the members' views an prepare a joint submssion of evdience.  Please contact the secretary beforehand if you wish to attend this meeting.  The tems of this Bill can be found on the Scottish Parliament website or thorugh the link on our own website at www.slas.com.  

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General Mon, 06 Jul 2015 12:42:43 +0100
<![CDATA[Scottish Solicitors Benevolent Fund Golf Outing Friday 21st August 2015]]> http://www.scottishlawagents.org.uk/news/scottish-solicitors-benevolent-fund-golf-outing-friday-21st-august-2015 /node/2987 /node/2987#comments The Scottish Solicitors Benevolent Fund Golf Outing moves across the Forth to Leven Links this year which is once again kindly sponsored by the First Scottish Group and Legal Post (Scotland) Limited.

The Leven Golfing Society is the eleventh oldest golf club in the world dating back to 1820 ,is widely regarded as one of the best and purest links courses in Scotland and is an Open Championship Qualifying Venue. Leven Links is also the venue for two of the most prestigious amateur events on the Scottish golfing calendar, the Scottish Champion of Champions which is traditionally the season opener for the top amateur golfers in Scotland and the Standard Life Amateur Champion Gold Medal which is recognised as the oldest amateur stroke play competition in the world. Both past champions boards are displayed proudly in the Leven Golfing Society Club House, many of the names being instantly recognisable amongst whom Scotland’s own Andrew Coltart featured in 1989 followed by his brother-in-law Lee Westwood in 1993. Now they have the privilege of hosting us !  Hopefully last year’s winners from Register House will have been too pre-occupied with Advance Notices, Plans Reports and their own version of the One Shot Rule to be bothered with honing their golfing skills to retain the trophy yet again !!

 Leven Links should provide quite a challenge ,the signature hole is the 18th which is a real test of golf for golfers of all standards. In a Bunkered magazine poll it was recently voted the second hardest finishing hole in Scotland behind the 18th at Carnoustie and is an absolute nightmare if played into the wind, which is almost guaranteed!!!

For those up to the challenge, teams of four drawn from firms, faculties and indeed anyone who has even the remotest link with the profession are welcome to come along and put themselves to another great test of links golf. Further information available on the www.levengolfingsociety.co.uk website to whet the appetite. Entry forms for teams of four and further information is available from Ross D Ireland, Williamson & Henry LLP, 13 St Mary Street, Kirkcudbright (LP-1 Kirkcudbright, telephone 01557 330692 and email rireland@williamsonandhenry.co.uk). Numbers are restricted so please gather your teams together, get your entry in now and get it in your diary. Book early to avoid disappointment!  Last date for entries is Friday 24th July. 

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General Tue, 16 Jun 2015 09:44:21 +0100
<![CDATA[Court User Satisfaction Survey 2015]]> http://www.scottishlawagents.org.uk/news/court-user-satisfaction-survey-2015 /node/2985 /node/2985#comments We attach below a letter from 3rd of June 2015 which we have recieved from the Scottish Courts Service and to which members' attention is respectfully drawn.

Michael Sheridan

 

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Member News Mon, 08 Jun 2015 15:25:46 +0100
<![CDATA[March '15 Gazette]]> http://www.scottishlawagents.org.uk/news/march-15-gazette /node/2984 /node/2984#comments Members need not worry about the absence of the March Gazette.  The content has now been assembled and this edition should arrive by early April.

MS

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General Mon, 30 Mar 2015 12:20:32 +0100
<![CDATA[Revenue Scotland and LBTT - Urgent News]]> http://www.scottishlawagents.org.uk/news/revenue-scotland-and-lbtt-urgent-news /node/2983 /node/2983#comments Those not already doing so, should be keeping a close eye on the Revenue Scotland website (www.revenue.scot) for updates on arrangements for the introduction of the Land and Building Transaction Tax (LBTT) at the beginning of next month.  As of 1st April 2015 the purchase of land or buildings, for either domestic or commercial use, and the registration of certain long leases will no longer be subject to Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT).  Any conveyance of property with a value in excess of the prescribed limit (£40,000.00?) registered on or after 1st April 2015 will require to be reported to Revenue Scotland and may be liable for LBTT.  Revenue Scotland have said that guidance and forms (both paper and electronic), replacing the SDLT forms and certificates, will be available on or after 24th March 2015 and that the online portal (through which practitioners must register) will be unavailable between 23rd and 24th March.  A recent tweet by the Law Society of Scotland (@Lawscot) advises that the portal will in fact be unavailable form 5pm 20th March 2014 and recommends that those who have not done so should sign up immediately.  Further details and links available at

www.lawscot.org.uk/news/2015/02/online-lbtt-sign-up-now-live/

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General Thu, 19 Mar 2015 14:58:47 +0000
<![CDATA[Agenda for meeting with SLAS at Salutation Hotel Perth from 10.30 am 19th February 2015 ]]> http://www.scottishlawagents.org.uk/news/agenda-meeting-slas-salutation-hotel-perth-1030-am-19th-february-2015 /node/2982 /node/2982#comments 1. Borrowers’ Liability for Mortgage Lenders’ expenses – letter to Law Society of England and Wales and attachments

2.  Regulation of solicitors

(a)          regulation of entities

(b)          Principal or Rule Based Regulation

3. Collegiate Identity for High Street Solicitors.

Is the Law Society of Scotland with its support for ABS and constitutional inability to regulate the profession any longer the appropriate commercial identity for High Street solicitors ?

4. The Bribery Act – payment to third parties for attraction of Business

5. Virtual SLAS Council  -  A mechanism for the solicitors’ profession to consider and respond promptly to issues arising.

6. Land Registration Problems -  A central repository to identify and record problems which need to be addressed.

7. AOCB

 NB Please register your interest in joining the meeting beforehand with secretary@slas.co.uk

 

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General Wed, 11 Feb 2015 16:38:18 +0000
<![CDATA[Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (LBTT) at 10th February 2015]]> http://www.scottishlawagents.org.uk/news/land-and-buildings-transaction-tax-lbtt-10th-february-2015 /node/2981 /node/2981#comments From April this year, the month after next, we shall require to complete a Land and Buildings Transactions Tax return in order to complete an application for registration of title. The current HMRC Guidance  for this return currently advises that “Guidance is currently in development and will be available in early 2015, well  in advance of LBTT coming into effect.”

We recollect that when SDLT replaced Stamp Duty (in 2004?) a similar situation  arose and there were no forms available for SDLT submissions when the new rules came into force and no registrations of title could proceed throughout Scotland for a period of some weeks, during which the Land Register lost contact with the reality of landownership.  This of course was the very evil that inspired generation of Scottish solicitors to fear the charge of “failing to update the Registers” and the professional discipline that followed  thereon.  No issue was raised, however, when the inefficiency of the revenue authorities led to the wholesale breakdown of the system of land registration and is on the brink of doing so again.

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General Tue, 10 Feb 2015 12:46:49 +0000
<![CDATA[6th February - Rejected Application]]> http://www.scottishlawagents.org.uk/news/6th-february-rejected-application /node/2977 /node/2977#comments This application was submitted to Registers of Scotland on 30th January together with an inventory, a dispositionand an SDLT5. Very, very promptly, one week later, we receive an e-mail advising us of rejection on the grounds that no SDLT5 had been included. The sender very clearly recollects having assembled the papers, made a full copy and having dispatched the papers, including the SDLT5. This would still be well within the protected period, but, for technical reasons, the selling agent did not agree to an Advance Notice but instead on granting a classic Letter of Obligation.

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General Fri, 06 Feb 2015 10:40:49 +0000
<![CDATA[Further Land Registration Problems]]> http://www.scottishlawagents.org.uk/news/further-land-registration-problems /node/2976 /node/2976#comments Some further difficulties have now been reported to us. We are publishing these not in any way to criticise the registration process but simply to alert members to the difficulties arising and to help avoid these difficulties in the future.

It has been reported that, in one case, where a member sought to register a Discharge of a Standard Security and a new Standard Security, although he has now received the return of the new Standard Security bearing to have been registered, the electronic title sheet shows the property as having no charges. Does this mean that the owner can now sell the property as charge free and, if so, who would bear the damages to the lender?

MS

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General Fri, 09 Jan 2015 12:03:07 +0000
<![CDATA[Office Based Diploma]]> http://www.scottishlawagents.org.uk/news/office-based-diploma /node/2975 /node/2975#comments We issued a news item with our subscription notices this year in connection with a proposed Office Based Diploma. In that news item, we suggested referral to this website for more details of this proposal. Unfortunately, these details are still in construction and members should keep an eye on this website for further details in due course.

Secretary

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General Wed, 07 Jan 2015 15:34:44 +0000
<![CDATA[Land Registration problems - continued]]> http://www.scottishlawagents.org.uk/news/land-registration-problems-continued /node/2974 /node/2974#comments We understand that many members are having problems with the new land registration system. Perhaps, if members would identify those problems on this page, it would assist the membership in general to cope with these problems. We recently had an application for the registration of a Standard Security rejected because we had not identified the company number of the lender. We were not previously aware of any requirement for that information. But we know now and so do the readers of this page. MS

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General Wed, 07 Jan 2015 15:13:35 +0000