Confederation Report (August 2013)

It was with great pleasure that I accepted the kind invitation of the Pontypridd and District Law Society to attend their annual dinner on 28th June 2013.

The Dinner was held at the Park Plaza Hotel which, of course, was previously the site of the Planning Department of the Mid Glamorgan County Council. During my short period as a Planning Lawyer with the old Mid Glamorgan County Council, I attended various meetings at this venue. However this occasion was far more pleasant. The Park Plaza is one of Cardiff’s finest hotels and a worthy venue for such an occasion. The event was extremely well organised and an enjoyable evening was had by all members and guests of the Pontypridd and District Law Society.

Unfortunately the number of attendees was lower than previous years. This may well be a reflection of the difficulties being experienced by those in the profession who have been heavily dependent upon Legal Aid Funding for the excellent services they have provided to their Communities.

Regions such as Pontypridd and Rhondda, the Rhymney Valley, Aberdare and Merthyr have traditionally been heavily dependent upon Legal Aid Funding. One wonders how many Firms who have practiced in such areas over the years will survive. Only time will tell.

The top table guests at the Dinner included HHJ Isabel Parry, Designated Family Judge, together with HHJ Helen Mifflin, Circuit Judge at Pontypridd and HHJ Richard Twomlow now sitting as a Circuit Judge at Merthyr Crown Court. Also in attendance were Mr Alun Lloyd of Robertsons, who is a current President of the Rhymney Valley Law Society together with District Judge John Doel of the Pontypridd County Court District, Judge Morgan Jenkins, who sits at the Merthyr County Court but who has recently been sitting at Blackwood and Newport County Court, and Michael Walters and Trudy McBride of Cardiff & District Law Society.

Most importantly we must not forget the contribution made by Mr Stuart George as President of the Pontypridd and District Law Society for this current year. This was a last minute appointment acting up from his substantive role as Secretary to the Society. He is a Local Authority Lawyer and his sterling efforts including delivery of a most worthy speech ensured that the dinner “happened”. It is hoped that there will be a Dinner at Caerphilly Castle, that most prestigious and historic venue, to be held by the Rhymney Valley Law Society. Mr Alun Lloyd as current President will preside and we have a tentative date of 15th November 2013. More information will be available in due course.

Unfortunately many of the Law Societies within the Confederation are now inactive. Invitations have been extended to the previous members of the Bridgend and District Law Society to join the Confederation as members.  In these difficult times it is important that we have a united voice and that local and regional Law Societies are supported by their members. Whilst the Law Society has come under criticism for not promoting the interests of its members, there is a general view that things have improved since the disciplinary and supervisory duties were allocated to the SRA. It seems that the Law Society is now free to lobby members of Parliament and promote more efficiently the interest of its members. There can be no doubt that there has been successful lobbying in recent years of MP’s and proceedings brought by way of Judicial Review in order to stem the tide of unfavourable legislation and financial cutbacks affecting the profession. It may well be a case of “closing the stable door after the horse has bolted” but if the Law Society is to have any effective voice at all it must be supported by its members. 

That representations can be successful is evidenced by concessions won from the Government regarding its Criminal Legal Aid Reforms. It has been announced that a second consultation on the proposals will begin in September 2013 (Law Society Gazette 08.07.2013). Well done to all those who made their views known.

The heat wave continues and produces a holiday spirit and reminds me of a recent social occasion. The Confederation of South Wales Law Societies Summer Social Buffet and Disco held at the Llandaff Rowing Club on 5th July 2013 did indeed prove to be a fun night by the river. The weather was good and the sun was shining. A cool breeze wafted from the river and it seems that most people enjoyed the occasion. There was lots of dancing and drinking and hopefully we can do it again. We thank Watkins & Gunn who now have an office at Llandaff for sponsoring the event together with Queen Square Chambers, CPM 21 and Lextox Drug & Alcohol Testing.

A further social occasion is planned for 20th September 2013 at the New House Hotel.  This will be a more formal occasion. It is the annual celebratory dinner dance of the Confederation and tickets are now available for The Casino Royale Night, a date for your diaries I suggest – see page 19.

The Confederation is also promoting a CPD programme for the Autumn, full details and application forms for which are on Pages 12 & 13 of this issue. The courses offer the usual exceptionally good value at accessible venues in the locality: The Criminal Law Update and the Civil Law Update are to be held in the Chairman’s Board Room at Cardiff City Stadium which may be of interest to the football supporters amongst you.

Finally it falls to me thank the Cardiff and District Law Society for their invitation to attend at their Council meeting held 1st July 2013. as a presentation was being made to Mr Simon Mumford a well-respected Criminal Practitioner who was well known in the Cardiff area for many years until he returned to his beloved Narbeth in Pembroke several years ago.  Simon of course has been a great supporter of the Cardiff and District Law Society and has been a Council member for many years. In addition Simon is of course a past President of the Confederation of South Wales Law Societies, holding the office for 6 years. He made many noteworthy contributions to Legal News and the Confederation itself. He is not yet ready to retire from Criminal practice despite the undoubted difficulties which Criminal Practitioners face. It is hoped that we will continue to see him in the Cardiff area and wish him well in whatever he chooses to do in the future. Also now that he is likely to “have time on his hands” we look forward to a contribution in Legal News highlighting the most notable moments of his long life in crime! 

Gaynor McCann Davies
President of the Confederation

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