The year ahead

As I prepare to chair our first meeting of the year on 18th January 2012, I am looking forward to the challenges of my year as President.

On 30 January 2012 I will be visiting Lewes to chair the Combined Sussex Law Societies meeting. This will be attended by Presidents and other office holders from the Chichester, Worthing, Sussex, Eastbourne, Hastings and Tunbridge Wells Law Societies, as well as regional Law Society representatives.

Amongst subjects for discussion will be the introduction of Alternative Business Structures (ABSs). The first wave of applications have now been made and it is believed that initially 15 or so will be approved. It will be interesting to see how this process develops over the coming months and how the new ABSs impact upon the profession.

Amongst other items on the agenda will be the difficulties over practising certificate renewals this year, the latest proposals from the Legal Ombudsman over publication of complaints and proposed changes to the training structure for Trainee Solicitors.

I will keep you posted on these and other issues through the year.

Edward Cooke

Annual Dinner 2011

The Chichester and District Law Society Annual Dinner took place on Friday 25th November 2011 at Vicars’ Hall, Chichester Cathedral. The dinner was preceded by the AGM where I was very honoured to be elected as the society’s President for the coming year.

We were delighted to be joined at the dinner by two guest speakers, Andrew Tyrie, our MP and His Honour Robin Barratt QC, who had recently retired as our resident Civil and Family Circuit Judge after 13 years. Both speakers were very well received. Andrew Tyrie gave a broad ranging and very topical speech on a number of issues, ranging from global economic difficulties to the importance of supporting young people in the local economy. Judge Barratt reflected on his experiences at the Bar and as a Judge and provided some memorable and entertaining stories.

The dinner was notable for two other reasons. Firstly, it marked the first occasion where this event has been open to guests of members of the society. The consensus of those who attended seemed to be that this worked very well and I hope this will be a lasting iniative.

Secondly, we were delighted this year to hold a charity auction and raffle for Chesnut Tree House Children’s Hospice. This was also a first, and the generosity of members, who raised £1800 for this fantastic cause, was wonderful.

I hope very much that we can build on the success of this year’s dinner in years to come, raising more money in future years for other local causes.

Edward Cooke

Chichester and District Law Society welcomes local MP to annual dinner and charity fundraiser

The Chichester and District Law Society, an organisation representing solicitors practicing or living in the Chichester area, held its annual dinner at Vicars’ Hall, Chichester Cathedral on Friday 25th November 2011. This year the event was open for the first time in recent memory to guests and was marked by a fundraising charity auction and raffle in aid of Chestnut Tree House which raised £1,800.

Chestnut Tree House, situated near Arundel, is the only children’s hospice for West Sussex. The hospice specializes in providing care and support for children with life-limiting illnesses and their families.

The guest speaker for the evening was Andrew Tyrie, the MP for Chichester. Mr Tyrie spoke about his role as Chairman of the House of Commons Treasury Select Committee and the particular challenges facing the local and national economy. In a constructive critique of the current global economic crisis, Mr Tyrie said that one positive aspect of the current situation was that, unlike the great depression of the 1930s, since the credit crunch began it was heartening to note that countries had not turned in on themselves in a protectionist manner. Mr Tyrie also spoke of the importance of local businesses supporting young school leavers and graduates in finding work.

The Society’s new President, Edward Cooke, a family law solicitor and mediator at the Chichester office of Anderson Longmore & Higham, also spoke to members and guests. He said he was keen to raise public awareness of the role of the local law society in the wider community. As such, he noted that the society was delighted to be supporting such a well deserving local charity as Chestnut Tree House.

In addition, the dinner provided an opportunity for members and their guests to say their farewells to His Honour Robin Barratt QC, who stood down this October after 13 years as the civil and family law circuit judge for the Chichester and Worthing areas. In his address, Edward Cooke paid tribute to Judge Barratt and, in particular, to his skill and care in handling what were often difficult and sensitive cases which came before him.

“We were delighted by the response we received from so many local businesses in aid of Chestnut Tree House, as well as by the enthusiasm and generosity of our members and guests,” said Chichester and District Law Society President Edward Cooke. “We managed to raise a grand total of £1,800 for the children’s hospice, which we all feel is a really worthwhile local cause.”