Glasgow Bar Association held its AGM at Glasgow Sheriff Court on Thursday 25th November when Clair McLachlan demitted office as president and Christine Murray was assumed, nem con, as her successor and Gerry McLay was similarly elected as vice president. The outgoing president reported upon a busy year of meetings and consultations with, inter alia, the Scottish Legal Aid Board and the Sheriff and District Court Standing Advisory Committees, the completion of a CPD programme and three deliveries of the two week PCC course as well as a full social calendar of annual dinner, golf outing, race night and quiz and, despite the very substantial expenditure that a busy year had engendered, the treasurer (outgoing and incoming) Julie Cadman, reported that these outgoings had been met at least more or less from income.
Glasgow Bar Association, it has to be said, makes an extremely important contribution on behalf of practising solicitors in providing an opportunity for their voices to be heard in relation to such matters as the radical overhauls that are now being undertaken both in the provision of justice, especially in solemn procedure, and the provision of legal aid. Given the experience of the Scottish Legal Aid Board and, in particular, the substantial, real reduction in the rate of payment brought about by having that rate frozen for ten years or more from 1992, one has to think very carefully what sort of regime would emerge if the practitioners' views were not brought forcefully into the discussion, particularly where the Law Society itself, as a fellow creature of the same legislature that created the Board, clearly has a difficulty in representing the practising solicitor, due to the conflict of interest between practitioners receiving a proper rate of pay and the minimisation of the expense to the public purse to which the Board is dedicated.. The GBA goes out of its way also to maintain contacts with other Bars and Faculties and it was disclosed at the AGM that there was even the possibility of establishing a special relationship with the Edinburgh Bar Association with a view to enabling information to pass between the Associations more freely. Congratulations and thanks are due by the whole profession to the Glasgow Bar Association.
Footnote re Legal Aid - It was reported yesterday that the new finance and public services reform minister has announced that legal aid reform shall produce a saving of ?12 million from the (demand led ?) legal aid budget- Herald 30th November 2004.