The first meeting of what was to become the Council of IIC took place at the National Gallery in London on 6th June 1950. The business conducted included the election of the first Fellows and the establishment of arrangements for the transfer of funds to and from the United States. In attendance were IIC’s solicitors, Sir Hilary Scott and A.M. Bell, from Slaughter and May, then as now a pre-eminent London firm, founded in 1889.
Sir Hilary Scott, later president of the Law Society of England and Wales, was one of a generation of Slaughter and May partners who had, during the Second World War, been seconded to the top-secret “Special Operations Executive” to apply their considerable intellects to the co-ordination of non-military, clandestine resistance abroad by means of sabotage and subversion. A.M. Bell became a partner in the firm shortly after the first IIC meeting, so, on that occasion, can only be supposed to have been most anxious to impress Sir Hilary and his new clients.
Slaughter and May are still solicitors to IIC and have, over the years, advised on a wide variety of structural changes, contracts, intellectual property, employment and governance matters. Contrary to what might be the usual expectation of a corporate law firm, all work has been undertaken pro bono: free advice over seventy years (bearing in mind that lawyers don’t come cheap) must count as a significant contribution to the work of our organisation. The relationship does, moreover, seem to be enhanced by the genuine interest in the work of IIC taken by our advisers, many of whom have pre-law academic backgrounds in history, the arts or science. Former Slaughter and May partner Helen Griffiths remembers being delighted when the IIC file was handed to her in 1999: she had always somewhat regretted not following early enthusiasms into a career in heritage, so IIC seemed a perfect client and a refreshing contrast to the oil exploration companies which had also landed on her desk. On retirement in 2016, Helen was co-opted onto the Council of IIC.
Recent conversations with Slaughter and May have, of necessity, been conducted virtually, highlighting how both organisations have moved on from the meetings over long lunch and cigars which characterised the early days. IIC now works with Slaughter and May internationally, and their advice is increasingly valued as IIC consolidates its global and diverse outlook in a rapidly changing environment and one in which sound legal footings are increasingly important.
Article courtesy of Slaughter and May.
(See the full article in the December-January 2021 "News in Conservation" Issue 81, p. 25)