The Commerce & Industry Group (C&I) has been the voice of all in-house lawyers in the United Kingdom since 1961. But if Anthony Armitage has his way, C&I's 44-year monopoly is about to end.
Amid allegations that C&I had been dishonest about its commercial dealings, Armitage, vice-chair of C&I's commercial arm and chair of C&I's London region, resigned from his positions in October. He then formed a breakaway group called the In-House Lawyers' Association (IHLA).
C&I, which was an unincorporated association (UA), decided that the best way to comply with the prohibition was to spin-off a non-profit company. It wouldn't be subject to the Law Society agreement and would shield members from personal liabilities arising from commercial activities.
When the dust settled after C&I signed the agreement in mid-2003, two entities existed: the Commerce & Industry Group, a UA responsible for C&I's representative function relating to Law Society matters; and C&I Group Services Ltd. (GS), an incorporated body formed in 2001 with the mission of carrying out C&I's commercial activities.
"C&I is rather moribund and over-involved in its own internal politics," she says. "In-house counsel are underrepresented at the Law Society and C&I has done nothing about the exorbitant practice fees that we must pay."
Armitage says that the unclear relationship between C&I's national group and its regional divisions is another shortcoming.