Minutes: 12/04/2017


Agenda items 1-3 chaired by David McLaughlin and Item 4 onwards by Tam Gill.

1. Welcome & introductions: Sue Antell, Caroline Auty, Rob Beech, Richard Charlton, Neil Cronin, Tam Gill, Michael Kennedy, Nick Lewis, David McLaughlin, Jennifer Nwachukwu, Floyd Porter, Jonathan Wilson, Karen Wolton.

2. Apologies: Catrin Blake, Sarah Burke, Shoni Newell, Shefik Osman, Pramod Sanatun, Kate Tyrrell.

3. Minutes of the meeting held on 8 December 2016: The December minutes had not been agreed in February because of a disagreement over Minute 5(b). A transcript was supplied. Following discussion, it was agreed to add the first paragraph of JW’s suggested amendment (The committee decided that a person would be considered to be “actively seeking membership” of the mental health accreditation scheme, and therefore eligible for full membership of the Association under the constitution, as soon as that person had booked onto a two-day panel course) but not the second. The minutes were duly approved. No further letter would be sent to the applicant whose Firm membership had been declined.

4. Minutes of the meeting held on 15 February 2017: proposed as an accurate record by DM and seconded by MK. CA would put both sets of minutes on the website shortly.

5. Matters arising not covered on agenda: none

6. Officers’ reports:
a. Chairman & Vice Chair (Tam Gill & Michael Kennedy)

(i) LAA contract update: it was noted that the single-stage is expected to open in May 2017, to ensure compliance with Public Contract Regulations 2015 (nb: different timescale from headline intentions document).
(ii) LAA Contract query: a query received from a member regarding client allocation in the new LAA contract was discussed. However, the committee did not agree that MHLA should raise this issue with the LAA.
(iii) TLS Panels update
 Welfare panel pre-accreditation course bookings are now open.
 MH Panel ‘professional development hours’ for initial accreditation applications: given that other Law Society panels have more stringent requirements than MH, the committee decided not to raise this issue with TLS on behalf of the membership.
(iv) SRA meeting: this was attended by MK, KW & TG on 27 March. SRA representatives made presentations explaining what they do, and there had been discussion about regulatory problems in the sector, which John Sirodcar had joined in by conference call. The dialogue would be continued, especially regarding complaints, appeals and investigations, and another meeting was planned for the Autumn.
(v) Future meeting Oliver Heald: CA would send a reminder to members who had not yet responded to the recent questionnaire seeking their views.
(vi) DCP Hinchliffe response on judicial guidance: following discussion, it was agreed to write to Judge Hinchliffe to say that as a committee we are concerned that there appear to be summaries produced which do not reflect case law. RC would draft a response.

b. Treasurer (Sarah Burke)
(i) SB was not present. The budget figures had been circulated in advance.
(ii) VAT:
 It was noted that those speakers who are VAT-registered may now claim VAT on top of their speaker fee.
 The accountant had confirmed that in order to remain exempt from VAT, any profits derived from education and training should be reinvested in E&T activities. Following discussion around the issues of VAT registration and ring-fencing, it was agreed to seek further clarification from Steven Nixon. MK and CA would liaise on this.
c. President (Nick Lewis)
(i) MHDC update:
 NL had been involved with setting up the MC accreditation scheme and wished to record thanks to FP, who has carried the responsibility for the scheme, and also to Sheila Carrick, Sophy Miles and Rachel Turner. The scheme is likely to go live in August and courses are running in London and Manchester.
 Vulnerable adults bill: members of the committee undertaking work involving vulnerable adults were asked to make case studies available to Alex Ruck Keene.
 The Law Society is seeking to recruit MHDC committee members and anyone interested should contact them.
(ii) Law Society contract: NL had met Ellie Cronin and a member of the MoJ to promote our views on the new contract. Originally a two-stage process, this was now a one-stage process.

d. Secretary (David McLaughlin)
(i) No response had been received from the firm whose membership application was declined in December.
(ii) An issue had been drawn to DM’s attention whereby a firm of solicitors seemed to be ‘encouraging’ or making a claim on behalf of a Tribunal. DM and TG would liaise.

7. Sub-Committee reports
a. Conferences

(i) CoP conference
FP was happy with Mr Justice Munby as the headline speaker and it would not be necessary to find another judge to speak. Marketing would commence shortly.

(ii) MHLA conference and AGM
Speaker update: Duncan Birrell will deputise for Judge Hinchliffe, who cannot attend. NL’s daughter Sian, a forensic psychologist who works in the prison service, is willing to speak, together with a colleague who works in the public and private sectors. Lucy Series has suggested an academic in the Leeds area. MK would present the Case Law update with Sophy Miles.

b. Court of Protection (Floyd Porter)
The sub-committee’s report had been circulated and there was nothing further to add.

c. Legal Aid (Karen Wolton)
(i) KW had attended an LAA meeting with John Sirodcar and Jake Kraft. On the subject of audits and new guidance, KW had suggested that auditors are not particularly well-trained. The zero tolerance policy for errors at audit has been confirmed and even a single error will result in contract notices. Another two on the same issue will lead to contract issues (termination). It was agreed to draft a note to members warning them to disregard the guidance at their peril. Action: MK.
(ii) An issue raised by Peter Edwards was being looked into by the LAA’s policy group.

d. Education and Training (Shefik Osman)
The sub-committee’s report had been circulated and there was nothing further to add.

e. MHT
Nothing to report.

8. Regional meetings
MK is organising a Yorkshire & North East regional meeting on 24 May.

9. Future meetings
Tuesday 6 June
Tuesday 1 August
Tuesday 26 September
Wednesday 1 November
Annual conference & AGM Friday 17 November

10. AOB:
(i) Correspondence had been received asking members to submit examples of discharge. [They] had been asked to be more specific about what they were seeking, but had not yet responded.
(ii) NC raised the issue of whether section 5.2 of the Constitution (the power to refuse membership with no reason given) was appropriate. This could be considered at a future date.