President’s Blog – Summer 2015

As President of Chichester & District Law Society I have been kept extremely busy over the last few months since my last blog.

Firstly, I attend the Worthing District Law Society Annual Dinner on 6 March. This was a lovely event hosted by Ian Macara at The Dome, Worthing. A very enjoyable evening was had by everybody that attended.

Also I attended at the Sussex Law Society Annual Dinner hosted by Jane Wells at The Grand Hotel in Brighton. A fantastic event again this year with a number of District Judges and Circuit Judges attending at the top table and entertainment afterwards with a live band followed by a disco.

The great thing in attending at these annual dinners is that it forges great communication with the other local Law Societies to see what they are doing within their society. In particular we are now looking at a combined training event in criminal law with Worthing Law Society. I am hoping to be able to put in place a training day, possibly in the Worthing area, and once I have more information available on this I will be able to provide this to all members.

Both Jo Andrews (Secretary of Chichester & District Law Society) and myself attended this year’s Presidents and Secretaries Conference on 8 and 9 May. The theme this year very much for the Law Society was that of Access to Justice. Everybody will be thoroughly aware of the cuts made by the Government to legal aid. Further announcements of cuts of 8.75% for solicitors representing those accused of wrong doing together with a number of contracts for solicitors providing 24 hour cover at police stations and local communities reduced to 527 from 1,600 which would leave people without representation. The abolition for legal aid in family (except in certain cases of domestic violence) has, of course, had a huge impact on the ability to have any representation for those of limited income in divorce, ancillary relief matters and children matters. The implications of this has meant that there has been a huge increase in litigants in person through the Court system which has created a backlog of matters, putting a huge strain on what is already a busy Court listing. At a time when things could not be more difficult for litigants in person we see a wide spread closure of the front desk help in Courts. This is leading many people to simply be unable to have any access to justice. The Law Society is looking at ways in which they can lobby the Government concerning all these issues surrounding access to justice and they are putting out a nationwide call to solicitors who can provide specific details they have come across of clients who have experienced a complete failure in the system to provide them with that very much needed access to justice. If you have any case studies that you can provide the Law Society with please do send them in and these can assist them in their specific representations to the Government.

I also wanted to specifically thank all the members of CILEX for putting on and hosting the Combined CILEX and Chichester & District Law Society Quiz that was held on 16 April at The Old Cross. This was extremely well attended and was a thoroughly enjoyable evening. Very well done to Quizzy Rascals for their win.

Thank you for all those that have sent in articles for the Law Society website. I am very pleased to announce this month that Caroline de Vries is the winner of the bottle of champagne and you will see her article on the website. Please do continue to send in any articles that you would like us to put on the website and if we do publish your article you will be the proud winner of a bottle of champagne.

As you will all know, we have our social summer drinks on Thursday 18 June at George Bell House. If you haven’t already bought tickets I would urge you all to buy tickets to what is going to be a wonderful evening. Thank you to Dominic Ryan again for organising everything this year.

I was also very pleased to meet Bhavnia Fowler who is currently our regional manager stepping in for Kim Seth during maternity leave. She has attended at our recent Chichester & District Law Society meeting to meet all members of the Committee and to introduce herself to everybody. She has circulated amongst you all the South East Regional Law Society monthly report. She has also extended an invite to all members of our District Law Society who would like to meet with her to discuss any issues you have that are dealt with or handled by the Law Society. If anybody would wish to meet with her do contact myself or Jo Andrews and we will see if we can arrange a date and venue.

Some of you may also be aware that on 9 July 2015 Mr Jonathan Smithers of Cooper Burnett Solicitors will become President of the Law Society for England and Wales. I am sure you will join me in congratulating him on this forthcoming position. As you will be aware, Jonathan Smithers gave a talk at our Law Society dinner.

I am also extremely pleased to announce that again this year we will have the Legal Walk in Chichester held on 8 September 2015 lead by Jonathan Smithers President of the Law Society and Mr Justice Knowles QC CBE. Details of the walk are on the Chichester & District Law Society website and have been circulated.

Sara Fildes
Chichester & District Law Society