Scottish Group AGM

November 1, 1999

Ewan McIntyre is head of the IP/IT Group of Edinburgh law firmRobson McLean WS (

The Group gathered in the offices of Messrs Shepherd & Wedderburn WS,Edinburgh, for the 1999 AGM and Group meeting on 22 September 1999. The AGM waschaired by the Group’s Chairman, John Sibbald.


The meeting opened with the formalities of tendered apologies and approval ofthe minutes for the 1998 AGM. This was followed by the Chairman’s Report forthe 1998/1999 year. He reviewed a busy year for the Group with 10 events heldvariously in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen. The spectrum of topics discussedat Group meetings included a topical presentation by Kevin Hynd of theInformation Risk Management Division of KPMG on the problems presented by Year2000 with the October meeting being a joint meeting with the Faculty ofAdvocates Information Technology Group focussing on the implications of theintroduction of the Euro. This presentation was delivered by Alec Nacamuli, amember of Groupeuro.

Bryan King, Senior Development Manager at Clifford Chance, spoke in Novemberon the firm’s intranet and extranet services. The oversubscribed Decembermeeting was held at the offices of the Morton Fraser Partnership in Edinburgh,the firm kindly allowing members a demonstration of their case managementservices developed at the instance of clients, a demonstration which wasrepeated in March 1999.

The first meeting of 1999 was a joint meeting with the Scottish LawyersEuropean Group when Jean Bergevin of the DG XV (Internal Market and FinancialServices) talked on the Regulation of Internet services in light of Europeaninitiatives. The February meeting in Aberdeen had as its focus a demonstrationby Ben McCabe of Registers Direct of their new online service. Graham Gibson ofKirklands Solicitors explained to the meeting how such online services canassist in day-to-day practice. In March Graham duetted with John Salmon, then ofBird Semple and now of Masons, in a presentation dealing with the drafting ofSoftware Contracts in Edinburgh.

Unbundling Legal Services on the Internet was the topic of the May jointmeeting with the University of Strathclyde held in Glasgow and Richard Granatfrom Maryland gave a thought-provoking talk, pointing out some of the threatsand perhaps opportunities presented by the productisation of legal services.

The final event of the year was the annual lecture given by Professor HectorMacQueen of Edinburgh University. His topic was "Intellectual Property in aPeripheral Jurisdiction" with the meeting being followed by supper atArthur Lodge in Edinburgh.

The Chairman reminded the Group that the high quality programme for the year,and which had represented a very considerable contribution to the Scottish legalscene, had been organised as ever by volunteers. Specific thanks were directedto Pat Riddell for his two-year stint as Meetings Convener.

The Chairman then moved on to the program for the 1999/2000 year which will,on all accounts, be equally as exciting as the previous year. It includesmeetings on various aspects of e-commerce being developed with the Faculty ofAdvocates IP Group, legal products on the Internet, a conference with the RoyalCollege of Surgeons and SCRIPT on the legal implications of the increasingvolume of medical information being published on the Internet. In November willbe an event with the Governance of Scotland Forum of Edinburgh on Making New Lawin Scotland. This is to be attended by the Deputy First Minister and Minister ofJustice, Jim Wallace, who will give the keynote address.

Group Matters

Membership was the next topic discussed and the Chairman reported thatmembership was slightly up on last year (currently standing at 247, althoughthere were a few renewals in the pipeline). The importance of subscriptionsbeing paid in a society such as SCL was broached and initiatives for increasingmembership reviewed.

The Chairman then turned to the Scottish Group Web site and thanked all thosewho had contributed to it as well as to those who contributed an encouragingnumber of items to the Society’s magazine.

The impressive list of events, both in Scotland and beyond, that the Chairmanhad attended (whether on his own or accompanied by other members) was detailedwith the belief that the healthy round of invitations received by the Groupreflects its increasing profile in Scotland.

Returning to the Internet theme, there was a review of the impressiveScottish Courts Web site which features structured and full text searching, alljudgements being online by 2pm on the day of issue. It rather sets the standardfor other jurisdictions.

In both the Chairman’s review and later there was discussion of theScottish Group’s proposals for reform of the Scottish Group in the nationalcontext. Whilst the Scottish Group considers there to be a need for greatersubsidiarity it was reiterated that there was no wish to break away from theSociety. A Steering Group had met five times and its proposals were consideredlater in the meeting. They included the proposal to incorporate a charitablelimited company with safeguards in the memorandum and articles to ensure thecompany was directed to promotion of the objectives common to the national andScottish groups. The principle was approved by the meeting at a later vote. Forthe full Steering Group’s proposals, see the Scottish Group’s Web site.

The Chairman briefly mentioned budgetary matters and concluded with thanks tothose who had been particularly involved in what had been a most successful yearfor the Group.

John Sibbald was re-elected as Chairman and the decision of the committee toco-opt Brandon Malone as Meetings Convener was approved by the meeting.

Following the AGM, a most informative presentation was given by Mr JohnGailey, a long-standing member of the Scottish Group Committee. John gave areview of the techniques he had developed to assist with his own legal researchon the Internet, starting with the difficulties faced by us all when attemptingto find particular topics of interest using search engines in the myriad ofsites on the Web. He then turned to the savings in time and effort to be gainedby identifying and bookmarking useful gateway sites before looking at thefunctionality of the Scottish Courts Web site. He thought the site a usefulresource – making easily accessible information which although previously inthe pubic domain had hitherto been difficult to find.

John touched on the added value solicitors can give to clients by using theinformation available to us all, subject of course to any relevant copyrightrestrictions.

The meeting was wound up by the re-elected Chairman in his typically eruditestyle.