I write with mixed feelings: this is my final report to the Advocate before I hand over to my very worthy successor as president, Jim Meyer. In some respects, I will miss the job. In others, perhaps not.
This has been a very busy year for the Association. I am sure that next year will be similar, with a further consultation process on best value tendering ? which I am sure will merit a lengthy LCCSA response. A special sub-committee will be given this task. I only hope that the government will pay more attention to it than they have previously. As I have said time and time again, if they are going to ignore our responses, what is the point of having to make them? We all know all too well that, if we did not, they would assume that we are not bothered.
One example of the government's failure to heed what we say has been their reaction to our response with regard to the green paper and funding document. But thanks to the efforts of the Association and, in particular, to David Sonn and Paul Harris, a number a firms joined together to fund leading counsel's advice as to the abolition of committal fees. Following this, the Law Society was persuaded to take the matter on and, following failed negotiations with the Ministry of Justice, has now issued proceedings. My thanks to all those firms who contributed to this fund. Our efforts here show how the Association can and should remain in the forefront of criminal justice reform.
This year has involved attending a lot of meetings with various officials. I have repeatedly told civil servants that those who work at the coal face should be asked to participate in decision processes at the earliest possible opportunity so that constructive and thoughtful advice can be given by those who really know how criminal justice works. I hope this message has finally got through.
I am pleased to say that both Paul Harris and I are involved in Olympic planning committees in relation to the police, court and duty solicitor allocation for 2012 and will continue to represent members' interests.
The Advocate continues to be a strong voice for the Association and many thanks to Nicola Hill and Gwyn Morgan for all their efforts. Thanks also to Akhtar Ahmad and Hilary Riddle for all their help on training; Hilary has departed from her post as training administrator and the Association, grateful for her considerable contribution, wishes her well. As ever, thanks to administrator Sandra Dawson for all her work.
My thanks to an extremely supportive committee and officers who have helped steer me through the year and, in particular, to Paul Harris, the immediate past president, who has been a tower of strength.
I have greatly enjoyed my year of office. The Association's future will be in Jim's very capable hands and I wish him all the very best.
Good luck to you all in what will be an extremely perilous time.