Confederation Report (February 2015)

It’s all change again I’m afraid, this being the last Article that I shall write as President of the Confederation of the South Wales Law Societies.  After 3 years in office, it is time to hand over to another who shall remain nameless until he has been officially appointed at the forthcoming AGM.  All will be revealed in the next edition of Legal News and reported by his good self.

It is time to reflect upon the last 3 years, which have been turbulent times for the legal profession. Many practitioners have become disillusioned and discontent primarily caused by changes in and lack of funding. We have seen Barristers and Solicitors take to the streets to make protest and object to the changes and lack of Legal Aid funding. It is pleasing to note that their protests have met with some success and, as reported in the Law Society Gazette 19th January 2015, the Justice Secretary Chris Grayling has recently secured the backing of MP’s for concessions made in the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill, subject to the approval of the House of Lords, which is unlikely to be withheld.

In the area of personal injury, there have been enormous changes with the implementation of the Portal system, which has for some time included claims up to £25,000.00. However, this has been accompanied by a severe reduction in fees. Has this resulted in a detriment to the client? In my general experience, I would say not and claims do seem to be concluded more expeditiously that may well be because, hopefully, I am a better solicitor than I was in the early days. However, insurers remain concerned as to the level of claims being made despite the Jackson reforms. It seems that people who sustain injury through no fault of their own remain determined to pursue an action in damages despite all the obstacles put in their way, which of course, is good news for Claimant and defendant P.I. Lawyers.

We have seen constitutional changes in the political arena and who knows what the future will bring. There are those who advocate the implementation of a separate judicial system for Wales and the day may well come when this will become a reality. However, one advantage it is said being that there would be more work available for lawyers in the locality if this were the case. Is it then the role of the legal system to promote ‘jobs for the boys’ or to provide justice for its users?

I do hope that the desire to provide a remedy for the homeless, the injured, the wrongly accused, the exploited and the vulnerable does not vanish with the demise of Legal Aid. Indeed, I have sufficient confidence and believe that there are enough caring people in this profession to ensure that a remedy will still be available to them and who knows, perhaps an independent Welsh legal system would assist.

I personally hope for a change in the weather as I plan my visit to my eldest child Melissa McCann Davies Makriki and her Greek husband and two children who live in Crete - incidentally, the largest of the Greek islands. However, that cannot be guaranteed at this time of year as the weather is very variable although temperatures of 21 degrees are promised.

When I was younger, so much younger than today, one of the anthems of the time was Bob Dylan’s ‘The times they are a changing’ and they continue to do so. Indeed, recently on the quiz show Pointless, I was surprised to learn that when asked to name Bob Dylan’s albums, ‘The Times They Are a Changing’ was a Pointless answer; is there anybody out there who remembers that? Whilst you cannot turn back the endless river of time it seems that you can ‘stop the clock’. It was pleasing to hear that the new face of L’Oreal is none other than Twiggy. As one of her contemporaries I find that quite encouraging.

In any event, I am sure that my successor will serve the Confederation and all its members well. The Confederation will continue to promote the interest of its members, provide social events and, for the year 2015, at least continue to provide CPD courses, which it is hoped you will support. In particular, we note the resurgence of the Monmouthshire and District Law Society, which is soon to become part of the Confederation. Also, several dinners are planned including the Pontypridd and District Law Society whose President is our very own Paul Morgan, a child care lawyer with Rhondda Cynon Taff. I am sure that these events will be well supported. I wish my successor all the best and hope that he enjoys his years in office as much as I have mine. I shall be handing over the Chain of Office at the AGM and I am sure that the late Mr Simon Mumford will be in our thoughts. Better be sure to take it with me.

Thanks to all who took the time to read my articles in the Legal News, the flagship of the Confederation of the South Wales Law Societies and following the recent events in Paris, let’s continue to strive and support a free and independent press. Finally in the words of the late great Dave Allen ”may your god go with you’’.

Gaynor McCann Davies

President of the Confederation

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