Des Hudson announces retirement following calls for resignation

2261_DesHudsonCUTThe chief executive of the Law Society, Des Hudson, has today announced that he will retire from his role after the Society’s AGM in July.

The announcement comes just days after members of the criminal side of the profession made a renewed call for the resignation of both Hudson and Law Society president Nicholas Fluck over what they view as the Society’s ineffective defence of legal aid in the face of ongoing cuts by the government.

Announcing his retirement, a Law Society statement said: ‘Under his leadership, the Society has developed to become an internationally renowned organisation that supports and represents its members around the world.’

The statement  said that Hudson has ‘strengthened the Society by streamlining its management structure, introducing new technology and communication platforms, reforming pay and pension arrangements and boosting revenues generated from commercial activity to invest.’

Hudson – who joined the Society as chief executive in September 2006 – said: ‘A year ago I took the decision to retire in 2014. It has been a privilege and a pleasure to serve the Law Society during this time of change for the legal profession and I look forward to continuing to do so until I depart.’

Nicholas Fluck, president of the Law Society, said: ‘Des has delivered an outstanding service to the Law Society and has been a powerful advocate for the solicitors profession for eight years. He will be a tough act to follow.

‘He has transformed the organisation during his tenure and provided a powerful and influential voice for our members. His contribution will benefit the Society and our profession for many years to come.’

But Hudson has come under fire from criminal members of the profession in recent months, who have doubted his and Fluck’s ability to represent them in negotiations with the justice secretary Chris Grayling on legal aid.

James Parry – a partner at Liverpool-based criminal law practice Parry Welch Lacey Solicitors – led a call for a vote of no confidence in the Society’s leadership last year, which was passed by 52% at a Special General Meeting (SGM) of the Society in December.

Earlier this week, following the MoJ’s announcement last month that it will press ahead with a further 17.5% cut to criminal legal aid fees, Parry raised a new petition for another SGM calling on Fluck and Hudson to resign or be sacked.

In an open letter accompanying his petition, Parry stated that Hudson and Fluck are ‘not fit and proper persons’ to hold office, because they had failed to take notice of the vote of no confidence and failed to negotiate with the Lord Chancellor and the MoJ as directed.

‘They proved unable or unwilling to accomplish either task with any degree of efficacy. They chose an approach of collaboration with the Lord Chancellor which was at odds with the stance of all other representative bodies and the will of the majority of criminal legal aid practitioners,’ said Parry in the open letter.

Responding to this morning’s announcement of Hudson’s retirement, Parry told LegalVoice: ‘Mr Hudson’s announcement that he is to retire will be welcomed by many of us who regard his handling of negotiations in respect of civil and criminal legal aid as being ineffective.

‘It is to be hoped that the Law Society will now take the opportunity to reconsider its position in so far as the current negotiations are concerned and to support the position of practitioners and other representative bodies by accurately reflecting their views and supporting their efforts to resist what is intended.’

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