Blog From Outgoing Chair of the PLA – Martin Edwards


Apologies in advance if this sounds like the Queen’s Christmas broadcast but I have a lot of people to thank….

There is one word that summarises my tenure as Chair of our unique Association – “change.” These are exciting times for our members.  When I was elected in Autumn 2017 the Business and Property Courts had just launched and Sir Geoffrey Vos addressed us on that at last year’s Annual Dinner.

During the last 12 months we resolved to continue to press for reform where that is needed and to try to lead the debate and influence change.   As I look back at this year we should all be rightly proud of how much we have achieved:-

Law Reform: our LRC has had a huge workload being at the frontline – meetings with HMCTS; responding to consultations (eg on the Boundaries Bill) etc, But this hard work is worth it – look at the way the Government not only listened to us but accepted the PLA’s proposed revisions to the draft Bill on business rates in multi-occupied property, potentially abolishing the ‘staircase tax’ created by Mazars.

 We are now running our Court Service Survey again. Last run 3 years ago we look to review the impact of the continuing reforms to the Court Service on our members.  Our “Ask the Judiciary” evening a couple of weeks ago was a great success and gave us a fascinating insight from the Judges’ perspective.

We have been at the centre of the debate around the impending disclosure pilot and also the lease renewal pilot scheme in the First Tier Tribunal which has been running this year.

Thanks to everyone involved on LRC and to Mathew Ditchburn for a very successful year. Particular thanks go to Bryan Johnston who now leaves our LRC after many years’ service as he takes over the Chair.

 Membership: as our membership continues to grow nationally, we have also now appointed 2 new Honorary Members (Katie Bradford and Jeremy Hudson) and several Academic Members.

 Regions: I enjoyed participating in a number of events across our regions and to see the enthusiasm and innovation by the 70 or so members involved across all of our committees including our members in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Our inaugural Northern Training Day in Leeds in the summer was a roaring success thanks to the work done by our northern committee– this is now a fixture in our calendar.

Our programme of events across all of our regions goes from strength to strength under Paul Barker’s careful management,

Website and Marketing: many highlights this year including appointment of Dee Cornes as our external PR consultant to assist with giving the PLA a public voice in the press and on social media – including podcasts!; securing engagement with both Estates Gazette and Property Week;  improvements to the functionality of our Website; lexology daily feed to our members; protecting our PLA logo as a registered trademark.

But behind the scenes WMC’s biggest project was dealing successfully with our own GDPR compliance and privacy statements etc.  All of this thanks to Gary Lawrenson’s leadership and also to our Administrator Mary Block for guiding us through this process and making the changes required.

Education and Training: our key events in Oxford and the Autumn Training Day remain highly successful and provide our members with quality training and value for money.  Our Northern Training Day has now been added to our calendar of keynote events and I am grateful for the work done by E&T supporting our northern region on this initiative. Our E&T committee works tirelessly throughout the year making all of our events so appealing to our members.

I would like to extend my personal thanks to Ben Barrison for his leadership of our Committee over these last few years – Ben you will be missed. We welcome Rebecca Campbell who now takes over role as chair of E&T.

We are also very grateful to Tim Power who continues to provide our Association with seamless management at all our main events.   In particular Tim continues to negotiate the costs and overheads very effectively so that we can deliver these events at the best value for our members.

Junior PLA: Accounting for around 43% of our membership it is no surprise that events for our junior members organised by the JPLA have grown exponentially across London and all of our regions. I will not list all of their events here save to say it has been great to see the JPLA thriving and thanks to Georgina Redsell as chair and to our wider JPLA committee representatives for bringing them forward this year.

Treasurer: with so many events now requiring some form of financial support, our Treasurer  Kerry Glanville has been extremely effective in managing our income. I also now welcome Kerry as our new Vice Chair.

And last but by no means least we welcome Dellah Gilbert onto our Executive Committee as our new Honorary Secretary.

Finally I would like to end with a personal note of thanks to Liz Peace as our President. Liz gives our Association another dimension and her wise counsel and support has been invaluable this year as we looked to increase both our lobbying  and profile.

I won’t pretend that being Chair of such a busy professional Association as ours hasn’t occasionally brought its own challenges – but the main reason I have enjoyed this last year is the unique camaraderie working with such a great bunch of people. You all work so hard for our members and give generously of your time and I will really miss that and all of you and thank you for this experience.

As I hand over now to Bryan I have no doubt at all that he and our Executive Committee will continue our transformation as we continue our journey taking this great Association of ours to another level.