Incredibly I am already half way through my year in office. Time has flown by. I feel like I am hurtling towards its conclusion and to the Society’s annual dinner at the end of my year. However, I still have plenty more that I am hoping to achieve before I hand over the reins to Rachelle Sellek in May. On the subject of the annual dinner, please make a note for your diary that it will be on Friday 12 May at the iconic Cardiff City Hall. We are planning a special occasion and hoping for a big attendance so I encourage you all to attend.

 

I have certainly been very busy over the last few months. On 3 October I had the pleasure and privilege of attending the opening of the legal year at Westminster Abbey and attended a reception at Westminster Hall in the Houses of Parliament hosted by the Lord Chancellor. The reception is known as the Lord Chancellor’s Breakfast although it takes place at lunchtime! The night before I was a guest of the Law Society and Bar Council at a reception at the historic Temple Church followed by an excellent dinner at Middle Temple.

 

I was struck by the history and tradition of the whole occasion. Representatives from our profession, the bar and the judiciary processed in full regalia to the Abbey for a service and then made the short walk across to Westminster Hall for the breakfast. It was a fantastic spectacle. This magnificent occasion dates back to the middle ages, when Westminster Hall acted as the legal and administrative centre of the kingdom and was home to some of the earliest courts - the Common Pleas, the King’s Bench and the Chancery Courts.

 

Westminster Hall is arguably the birthplace of English justice. It was here that our system was developed and it was from here that the English Common Law and the rule of law was exported around the world. Troublingly it is this very rule of law that is currently under serious threat in our own country with our strong traditions of democracy and respect for the law. The outrageous criticisms and attacks on members of the judiciary following the recent High Court decision that Parliaments approval is required before Article 50 can be triggered must concern us all. Those in authority need to stand up and make clear that the independence of the judiciary is sacrosanct and the rule of law is paramount.

 

On 12 October the Society hosted a meeting with Enid Rowlands and other members of the SRA Board at the Radisson Blu hotel. The meeting was well attended and was generally positive. There was a lively discussion on key issues affecting the profession including the future of regulation and the controversial Solicitors Qualification Examination. The message from the SRA was that they are willing to listen to the profession. However, the proof is in the pudding and I know many continue to be sceptical about the SRA’s motives and actions.

 

Also on 12 October I delivered a short presentation to the National Assembly of Wales legal team on the benefits of membership of the Society. Following a positive reception from the team, I am hopeful that the Assembly itself or individual members of the Assembly legal team will join the Society for 2017. On the subject of membership, renewal letters will be sent out shortly as part of a major membership push by the Society for the New Year. Please could you respond promptly. The sooner that application forms are returned and membership fees are paid the quicker we can issue the membership cards and you can access our fantastic membership benefits including the discounts.

 

The Quiz and Curry night at BT Sports Cardiff Arms Park on 13 October was a huge success. If you attended I hope you enjoyed the event and had as much fun as me. Congratulations to Acuity Legal for winning the quiz. I am pleased to report that it was a sell out with 24 teams participating. We also raised an amazing £1,158.11 for my two charities (#staystrongforows and Velindre Cancer Centre). My thanks to compare-ATE who sponsored the event and to Rick O’Shea who was a brilliant compere. Thanks also to Radyr Golf Club, Geldards LLP, Cardiff Devils and Cardiff Blues for providing raffle prizes.

 

On 20 October I was a guest of Leighton Reed, President of South Wales Society of Chartered Accountants at their annual dinner at Cardiff City Hall. It was a very good event and I have picked up some great tips for our dinner. Dame Kelly Holmes was the main speaker. She brought with her the gold medals she won at the Athens Olympics and generously shared them with us!  I also met with Leighton separately to discuss how our two societies may work more closely together in the future and we are planning some joint events. Watch this space!

 

I also recently attended a meeting with the Ministry of Justice’s “Justice in Wales Working Group” at Cardiff Crown Court.  The Justice in Wales Working Group has been set up to consider the administrative and practical implications for the justice system of the emerging body of Welsh law made by the National Assembly for Wales and to recommend improvements in administrative arrangements and procedures. I have suggested that Cardiff & District Law Society host a meeting with the Working Group in the near future and to invite our members to attend to ensure they have input from a representative cross section from the local legal community. They are very keen to push this forward as quickly as possible. Details to follow.

 

We held our Admissions Ceremony at Park House Restaurant (Vanilla Rooms) on 2 November. We awarded certificates to newly qualified solicitors from 2015 and 2016. This was an opportunity to celebrate the success of those qualifying into the profession and for members of the local profession to congratulate them on their achievements to date. They are the future of our profession and future members of the Society. Their hard-won qualification is highly respected by employers and lawyers all over the world. Well done to all those who qualified.

 

At the time of writing this article, the next scheduled Society events are a reception on 25 November to congratulate His Honour Judge Seys Llewellyn QC, the Designated Civil Judge for Wales, on his forthcoming retirement and our annual Children’s Christmas Party on 10 December at Parc Play, sponsored by Synergy Costs Ltd which again looks like it is going to be a sell-out. In addition, on 3 February 2017 the Society is holding a one-day conference on ‘Everything you need to know about SRA compliance… in one day!’ in conjunction with ReaGriffin Consulting. The conference is taking place at the All Nation’s Conference Centre, Whitchurch, Cardiff - further information on page 3.

 

On behalf of Cardiff & District Law Society may I wish you all a very Happy Christmas and a successful and prosperous 2017. 

 

Paul Hopkins
paul.hopkins@geldards.com

 

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