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SOLICITOR SOLE PRACTITIONERS GROUP

  1. NAME

The name of the Group shall be the ‘Solicitor Sole Practitioners Group’.

  1. OBJECTS

(a) The objects of the Group shall be:

(i) To represent, support and develop the interests of sole practitioners within the Law Society and externally.

(ii) To provide a medium whereby the views of sole practitioners can be brought before all organisations involved in the provision, control, purchase, and acquisition of, and interest in, legal services and legislation relating to legal services.

(iii) To enable those organisations referred to in sub-clause (a)(ii) hereof to consult the Group upon matters of relevant professional, public and consumer interest.

(iv) To encourage the formation, continuation and development of local sole practitioners groups.

(v) To provide support including courses, conferences, advice, publications and any other relevant activity to enhance the ability of sole practitioners to operate successfully and within the regulatory framework to which they are subject.

(vi) To submit nominations for sole practitioners to represent sole practitioners on the Council of the Law Society or any of its Boards or Committees and any of the organisations referred to in sub-clause (a)(ii) hereof.

(b) The Group shall have the power to do all such lawful things as it considers fit for the attainment of such objects or for the furtherance of its interests.

  1. MEMBERSHIP

(a) All Solicitors who are practising in England and Wales as sole principals or as both a sole director and a sole shareholder in an incorporated practice or as a sole principal in a Limited Liability Practice shall be members of the Group, except those who notify in writing to the Law Society or to the Honorary Secretary of the Group that they do not wish to be members of the Group.

(aa) Subject to Clause 3(d) hereof, anyone who is eligible for membership of the Group and who has notified the Law Society or the Honorary Secretary of the Group in writing that he does not wish to be a member of the Group may at any time become a member of the Group by notifying the Law Society or the Honorary Secretary of the Group that he does wish to be a member of the Group.

(b) Any member of the Group who ceases to practise as a sole principal or as both a sole director and a sole shareholder in an incorporated practice or as a sole principal in a Limited Liability Practice may at the discretion of the Executive Committee be granted Honorary Membership of the Group. An Honorary Member shall not be entitled to hold office in the Group or to vote but shall be entitled to attend and speak at General Meetings. To avoid doubt as to the meaning of the words “to hold office”, the Executive Committee shall be entitled to co-opt to the Executive Committee an Honorary Member until the date of the next Annual General Meeting of the Group, when he shall cease to be such co-opted member. He may be co-opted again during the ensuing year, but no such co-opted Honorary Member may be co-opted thereafter without a break of at least one year.

(c) A member of the Group shall cease to be a member of the Group if:

(i) he ceases to practise as a sole principal or as both a sole director and a sole shareholder in an incorporated practice or as a sole principal in a Limited Liability Practice subject to any conferment of Honorary Membership.

(ii) his name be struck off the Roll of Solicitors, or he be suspended from practising as a solicitor.

(iii) [Deleted]

(iv) he notifies the Law Society or the Honorary Secretary of the Group in writing that he does not wish to remain a member of the Group.

(d) Any member who ceases to be a member by virtue of (c) (ii) above may only resume membership of the Group with the consent of the Executive Committee evidenced by a resolution to that effect passed at a duly convened meeting of the Executive Committee.

  1. OFFICERS

(a) The Officers of the Group shall be a Chairman, a Vice-Chairman, an Honorary Secretary, an Honorary Treasurer and a Press Officer who shall be elected by the Executive Committee at the first meeting of such Executive Committee following the Annual General Meeting of the Group in any year. With the exception of the Chairman, who cannot be elected in successive years, all Officers shall be eligible for re-election. Every candidate for election as an Officer must be eligible and be proposed and seconded by members of the Group and give 21 days’ notice prior to the Annual General Meeting of his intention to stand for the relevant office.

(aa) To be eligible for election as an Officer of the Group, every candidate must be a member of the Executive Committee when the election takes place.

(b) A casual vacancy for any Officer shall be filled by a member of the Executive Committee who shall be elected by the Executive Committee.

(c) The Executive Committee may either invite the Law Society to appoint a member of its staff as Permanent Secretary or appoint a Permanent Secretary direct. Such Permanent Secretary (however so appointed) shall be responsible to the Chairman of the Group for the discharge of the Permanent Secretary’s responsibilities and shall attend meetings of the Executive Committee at such times as the Chairman may determine.

(d) All or any responsibilities of the Honorary Secretary may be delegated to the Permanent Secretary to the extent agreed between the Chairman the Honorary Secretary and the Permanent Secretary and to such extent references in this Constitution to the Honorary Secretary shall be so construed.

  1. EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE

(a) The management and administration of the affairs of the Group shall, subject to the Constitution of the Group for the time being in force, be vested in and conducted by an Executive Committee consisting of:

(i) [Deleted]

(ii) such members of the Group who represent the Group as members of the Law Society Council.

(iii) up to twenty eight members to be elected (by ballot if necessary) at an Annual General Meeting to include if nominations permit four members practising in each of the London and South West regional areas (as defined in the Schedule) and at least two members practising in each of the other regional areas defined in the Schedule.

(iv) such members of the Group not exceeding four in number, as may be co-opted by the Executive Committee as and when it thinks it desirable in the interests of the Group to do so whether in order to ensure the Executive Committee is properly representative of all sole practitioners within Clause 3(a) hereof or to pursue better the objectives of the Group. Such member so co-opted shall serve on the Executive Committee until the date of the next Annual General Meeting of the Group when he shall cease to be such co-opted member. Subject to Clause 3(b) hereof, he may be co-opted again on an annual basis.

(v) the two immediate past Chairmen of the Group.

(b) All candidates for election to the Executive Committee shall be proposed and seconded by members of the Group.

(c) Subject to the following paragraph, all elected members of the Executive Committee shall serve on the Executive Committee for an initial period of 3 years and shall be eligible for re-election.

(d) The elections of members to the Executive Committee may be rotated in a manner determined by the Executive Committee to ensure that vacancies for all the elected members do not occur at the same time.

(e) Casual vacancies which occur on the Executive Committee between one Annual General Meeting and the next may be filled by the Executive Committee until the next Annual General Meeting.

(f) Six members shall form a quorum at any meeting of the Executive Committee.

(g) The Chairman of the Group shall be the Chairman of the Executive Committee and, in his absence the Chair will be taken by the Vice Chairman or, in his absence, by a member of the Executive Committee appointed by the meeting.

(h) Any member of the Executive Committee who fails to attend three consecutive meetings of the Executive Committee without reasonable cause shall cease to be a member of the Executive Committee.

(i) The Executive Committee shall be entitled to incur any expenditure it may deem desirable in conducting the affairs of the Group, provided that such be within the financial resources of the Group when incurred, and subject in respect of Law Society funds to complying with Clause 10 hereof.

(j) The Executive Committee may appoint Sub-Committees to take action or investigate and report to them on any matter and any such Sub-Committee may co-opt members who are not members of the Executive Committee. The Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the Group shall be ex-officio members of any Sub-Committee so appointed. Each Sub-Committee shall be entitled to meet from time to time as it shall reasonably decide.

(k) The Executive Committee shall submit to the Annual General Meeting a report on its proceedings and on the activities of the Group during the preceding year.

  1. EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE MEETINGS

(a) A meeting of the Executive Committee (of which not less than 7 days’ previous notice in writing, together with particulars of the business to be transacted thereat, shall be sent by the Permanent or Honorary Secretary to each member thereof) shall be convened as often as the Executive Committee may decide, or whenever the Chairman shall think necessary, or on a requisition in writing signed by not less than four members of the Executive Committee stating the purpose for which such meeting is desired.

(b) [Deleted]

(c) The proceedings of the Executive Committee, or of any Sub-Committee appointed by the Executive Committee, shall not be invalidated by reason of any vacancy therein or any defect in the election or appointment of a member thereof.

(d) Each member of the Executive Committee or of the relevant Sub-Committee (as the case may be) shall when attending a meeting thereof have one vote on any occasion when votes are to be cast, and in the event of an equality of votes the Chairman thereof shall have a second or casting vote.

  1. GENERAL MEETINGS

(a) An Annual General Meeting of the Group shall be held at a venue in England and Wales to be determined by the Executive Committee in such month as the Executive Committee may decide each year, but not less than ten months nor more than fourteen months since the preceding Annual General Meeting, in order to receive the annual report of the Executive Committee and the audited statement of accounts for the preceding year, and to transact such other business which may be proper to be transacted thereat.

(b) A minimum of 35 days’ notice of the Annual General Meeting and notice of the number of vacancies (if any) for members to be elected to the Executive Committee shall be published as provided for in clause 13 hereof. A nomination form shall be sent to all members who make written application for the same in response to the notice of the Annual General Meeting.

(c) Nominations to a vacancy arising on the Executive Committee shall be sent to the Honorary Secretary and must be received by him not less than 21 days before the date of the relevant Annual General Meeting.

(d) A copy of the Annual Report of the Executive Committee and a copy of the Group’s audited Annual Statement of Accounts shall be circulated at least fourteen days before the Annual General Meeting.

(e) Special General Meetings may be called:

(i) by direction of the Executive Committee, or,

(ii) on a requisition signed by 15 members (stating the object of the meeting) being sent to the Honorary Secretary, who shall inform the Chairman thereof and call the meeting to be held:-

(A) in the event of the object of the meeting being or including a proposed alteration of the Constitution not earlier than 21 days nor later than 35 days after receiving the requisition (the date of the meeting being selected by the Chairman); or

(B) in any other case within 28 days but not earlier than fourteen days after receiving the requisition (on a date to be selected by the Chairman).

(ee) A minimum of seven working days’ notice of a Special General Meeting shall be given to all members of the Group by publication as provided for in Clause 13 hereof, except in the case of Alterations to the Constitution, where the period of notice shall be at least 14 days and shall state the object of the meeting.

(f) Each member shall have one vote and in the event of an equality of votes, the chairman of the meeting shall have a second or casting vote.

(g) At all General Meetings of the Group, being either an Annual General Meeting or a Special General Meeting, the Chairman of the Group, if he shall be present, and if not, then the Vice Chairman, and in the absence of the Chairman and Vice Chairman then one of the members of the Executive Committee to be chosen by the members of the Executive Committee then present, and in the absence of the Chairman, Vice Chairman and all members of the Executive Committee, then some member of the Group to be chosen by the meeting shall preside as chairman.

(h) Subject to Clause 11 hereof, any member may bring forward any matter covered by the objects of the Group for consideration at any General Meeting on giving to the Honorary Secretary of the Group not less than 14 days’ previous written notice, provided that, with the approval of the Chairman (but subject to Clause 11 hereof) a matter may be raised at a General Meeting without such preliminary notice.

(i) A motion at a General Meeting (except as to the alteration of the Constitution) shall be deemed carried if the majority of the total number of members present in person and then voting shall vote in favour of the motion.

(j) Twenty-five members shall form a quorum at a General Meeting.

  1. REGIONAL AREAS

(a) The Regional areas of the Group for the purpose of this Constitution shall comprise the areas shown in the Schedule to this Constitution and such other areas as may from time to time be substituted therefor.

(b) An alteration of Regional areas (including the formation of two or more Regional areas by subdivisions of an existing area) shall not be regarded as an alteration of the Constitution for the purpose of Clause 11.

(c) Whenever in any of the Regional areas directly affected a majority of the members practising there who vote on the matter resolve that an adjustment shall be made in the boundaries of areas and are agreed upon such adjustment, then the matter shall be considered by the Executive Committee at the next meeting and the Executive Committee may, if it thinks fit, approve such adjustment and the revised areas resulting there from shall be substituted for those mentioned in the Schedule, the Group being advised of the substitution at the next General Meeting or by some other means whichever is the sooner.

(d) The Executive Committee may at any time and shall, if requested to do so either by the relevant Sub-Committee or by one or more Regional areas directly affected refer any question of an alteration of areas to the Group in the Annual General Meeting for a decision. In doing so, the Executive Committee shall report its views upon the question together with the wishes of the region or regions concerned to the Annual General Meeting.

(e) No alteration of Regional areas shall be made by the Group at an Annual General Meeting unless a report has been received thereon from the Executive Committee. If any alteration of areas is proposed at an Annual General Meeting without such a report having been made, then the proposal shall after any discussion be referred to the Executive Committee for report or, if appropriate, in accordance with paragraph (c) above for a decision upon such proposal.

  1. LOCAL GROUPS

(a) The Group shall encourage the formation and development of local sole practitioners groups who shall be autonomous, but the Group shall not have any liability whatsoever for the activities of any local group.

(b) [Deleted]

(c) [Deleted]

(d) The funds of the Group shall not be liable for any deficiency arising in the funds of any local group.

(e) [Deleted]

(f) [Deleted]

  1. FINANCE

(a) The finances of the Group shall be the responsibility of the Honorary Treasurer who shall receive and pay all monies due to and from the Group, provided that certain payments may be made direct by the Law Society.

(b) The Honorary Treasurer shall prepare annually a detailed statement of accounts made up to 31st December in each year or such other year end as may be determined by the Executive Committee.

(c) The bankers of the Group shall be the bank selected by the Honorary Treasurer and approved by the Executive Committee.

(d) The Group’s banking account shall be in the name of ‘Solicitor Sole Practitioners Group’ and shall be subject to such financial regulations as the Executive Committee shall from time to time determine.

(e) The Executive Committee shall appoint a person suitably qualified not being a member of the Executive Committee to examine and audit the accounts of the Group prepared by the Honorary Treasurer.

(f) Each year, if applicable, on a date determined by the Law Society, and as directed by them, the Executive Committee shall prepare and submit to the Law Society an estimate of the Group’s likely expenditure for the following calendar year.

(g) If relevant, the Executive Committee shall be entitled to incur expenditure to be met from Law Society funds within the estimate approved by the appropriate committee of the Law Society.

(h) The Executive Committee shall be entitled to solicit contributions to the Group’s finances in furtherance of its objectives by personal or written appeals whether at public meetings of members of the Group or otherwise.

  1. ALTERATION OF THE CONSTITUTION

(a) This Constitution may not be altered except with the consent of at least two thirds of the members present and voting at a General Meeting.

(b) Notice of any proposed alteration must be given to the Honorary Secretary not less than 21 days prior to the date of an Annual General Meeting which has already been fixed and published.

  1. INTERPRETATION

(a) In this Constitution:

(i) the masculine is used for convenience; it should be read as including the feminine.

(ii) where the context allows, the singular includes the plural and vice versa.

(iii) the expression “sole practitioners” means “Solicitor sole practitioners”.

(iv) “meeting” means an actual meeting and not a virtual meeting.

(v) where there is a reference to a member voting at a meeting, such member must be present at that meeting and may not vote by proxy.

(vi) a chairman of a meeting may accept voting at that meeting either by show of hands or by ballot

(b) Any question as to the interpretation of the Constitution for the time being in force shall be referred for determination to the Executive Committee whose decision shall be final.

  1. SERVICE OF NOTICES AND DOCUMENTS

(a) Any notice or other document required by this Constitution to be published may be published in or with the Group’s Magazine or on the Group Website or by post or document exchange or such other means as the Executive Committee may reasonably direct.

(b) Any notice or document sent to a member by post, addressed to his registered address, shall be sent by first class post and shall be deemed to have been properly given on the second working day following the day on which it was posted.

(c) Any notice or document sent through a document exchange service shall be deemed to have been properly given on the second working day following the day when it is left at the relevant document exchange office.

(d) Any notice or document published on the Group Website shall be deemed to have been properly given on the tenth working day after it was published.

(e) Accidental omission to send or publish any notice to a member shall not invalidate any election or other decision or proceeding of the Group and neither shall any such omission resulting from the unavailability of data under the provisions of the Data Protection Acts.

  1. DISSOLUTION

(a) If the Executive Committee by a simple majority decides at any time on the grounds of expense or otherwise that it is necessary or advisable to dissolve the Group, it shall call a General Meeting of which not less than 21 days’ notice shall be given.

(b) The decision to dissolve the Group shall be confirmed by not less than three quarters of the members present and voting at such meeting and, if granted, the Executive Committee shall have the power to dispose of any assets held by or on behalf of the Group.

(c) Any assets remaining after the satisfaction of any proper debts and liabilities, other than monies remaining from the funding granted by the Law Society, shall be given or transferred to such charitable or other institution having objects similar to the objects of the Group, as the Executive Committee may determine.

(d) Monies remaining from the funding granted to the Group by the Law Society shall be returned to the Law Society.

  1. CHANGE OF LEGAL STATUS

(a) Notwithstanding anything to the contrary in this Constitution, the Executive Committee are authorised to take any steps (including, for the sake of clarity, the expenditure of funds) to change the legal status of the Group from that of an unincorporated association to a company limited by guarantee or to an industrial and provident society or to a charity or to a combination of any of these or to such other legal status as the Executive Committee considers fit, and further that the Executive Committee may authorise any necessary transfer of funds, assignment of agreements or data as the Executive Committee consider appropriate for that purpose

(b) In taking such steps, the Executive Committee shall endeavour to ensure that any such company/charity or society’s constitutional basis retains the concepts and structures set out in this Constitution where the same are consistent with the general law regarding a company/charity or society

  1. BALLOTS

(a) Where a ballot has been carried out at a meeting of the Executive Committee or at a General Meeting, the ballot papers which have been cast shall be scrutinised by the Permanent Secretary prior to the result of the ballot being declared.

(b) Following the declaration of the result of a ballot, the ballot papers which have been cast shall be produced to any member of the Group then present who shall ask to see them, and he shall be given reasonable time and opportunity to examine the same.

Revised 22 April 1996 Revised 24 April 1997 Revised 25 April 1999 Revised 6 May 2000 Revised 10 May 2003 Revised              2010

SCHEDULE

REGIONAL AREAS

The eleven Regional areas are based on administrative counties as they existed on 1st. March 1995.

NORTHERN Cleveland Cumbria Durham Northumberland Tyne and Wear

YORKSHIRE North Humberside (that is, the part of Humberside formerly in Yorkshire) North Yorkshire South Yorkshire West Yorkshire

NORTH WEST Cheshire Greater Manchester Lancashire Merseyside

EAST MIDLANDS Derbyshire Leicestershire Lincolnshire Northamptonshire Nottinghamshire South Humberside (that is, the part of Humberside formerly in Lindsey)

WEST MIDLANDS Hereford and Worcester Shropshire Staffordshire Warwickshire West Midlands

WALES Clwyd Dyfed Gwent Gwynedd Mid Glamorgan Powys South Glamorgan West Glamorgan

EAST ANGLIA Cambridgeshire Essex Norfolk Suffolk

CENTRAL SOUTH Bedfordshire Berkshire Buckinghamshire Hertfordshire Oxfordshire

LONDON Greater London

SOUTH EAST East Sussex Hampshire Isle of Wight Kent Surrey West Sussex

SOUTH WEST Avon Cornwall (including Isles of Scilly) Devon Dorset Gloucestershire Somerset Wiltshire