President’s Blog – Autumn 2015


I will be handing over my position as President of Chichester & District Law Society to Maria Monan, my Vice President, on 20 November 2015. I therefore just wanted to first of all thank all the Chichester & District Law Society Committee for their help and support over this last year.

It has been extremely busy and in particular there have been lots of events that have occurred since my last blog to you this summer.

We had a tremendously successful summer drinks event organised by Dominic Ryan at George Bell House this year on 18 June 2015. A beautiful setting on a wonderful summer’s day. I know that all those that attended had a thoroughly enjoyable time so thank you Dominic.

Once again this year thank you to everybody that attended the Legal Walk on 8 September 2015. Thank you in particular for our President of the Law Society, Jonathan Smithers, and Mr Justice Knowles QC CBE for taking time out of their very busy schedules to attend our Chichester walk. Everybody who supported the walk should be congratulated as we raised almost £5,000 for local legal advice agencies.

It has been a particularly busy month for me with the Ministry of Justice announcement in July for the closure of 91 Courts and Tribunals across the country which included the Chichester Combined Court and Magistrates Court. The consultation for this closed on 8 October and I am pleased to say that we had a huge response to this consultation. We also managed to get three articles in the Chichester Observer on consecutive weeks expressing grave concern over the impact that the closure will have upon the community’s access to justice. We also had a front page article in the Law Society Gazette pointing out that Chichester is one of the busiest Courts on the list of the 91 Courts earmarked for closure. I wanted to particularly thank Bill Emerson from Pallant Chambers for his excellent report to the consultation and work that he has done in opposing the closure. Also Justin Lees and Edward Cooke on behalf of Resolution for their report.

I had a meeting with Andrew Tyrie, our MP, together with Bill Emerson from Pallant Chambers and Edward Cooke on behalf of Resolution which has now lead to further questions over the consultation. Mr Tyrie’s view is there is a complete lack of budgetary evidence in the proposed cuts or any clear analysis on budget methodology provided by the Ministry of Justice justifying the proposals. I am writing to Jonathan Smithers, President of the Law Society, for him to make further representations in relation to this to the Ministry of Justice.

I had the great pleasure also of attending the Opening of the Legal Year on 1 October which initially started at Middle Temple then onto Westminster Abbey where we processed into the Houses of Parliament. It was a truly spectacular day but importantly it also gave me the opportunity at the Houses of Parliament to speak at length to Shailesh Vara, the parliamentary Under Secretary, concerning the issues of the closure of Chichester Combined Court. He assured me that it was a true consultation and that he had already had his ear bent by Andrew Tyrie in relation to Chichester Combined Court.

I am also delighted that we had the re-launch for the Private Client Sub-Committee Group. Thank you to Margaret Windram for being co-opted onto the Law Society Committee to head up this group.

We also had another combined event with CILEX through the London Legal Support Trust for a quiz night held on 4 November 2015. Thank you to all those that attended this event.

I hand over the reins as President of Chichester & District Law Society to Maria Monan, my Vice President at our AGM on 21 November 2015. This will be followed by our annual dinner which is always very well attended by the whole society. This year the event is to take place at Chichester Yacht Club and it looks like it is going to be another great evening with dinner and entertainment provided in this beautiful setting overlooking the estuary. I therefore take this opportunity of wishing the Vice President every success as she embarks on her new position.

Sara Fildes