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Royal Bank collapse : Regulation of lawyers model cannot be used as example for safeguarding public against rule bending bankers who broke our banks

27 Feb

rbs_logoRBS – greatest UK corporate loss to-date. While our great banks such as the Royal Bank of Scotland, Lloyds, and the rest announce huge losses and effectively collapse around our ears on a global scale, the cries grow ever louder from the public and politicians alike, not only in the UK, but all over the world, for stronger, more effective regulation to prevent such disasters happening in the future.

Royal Bank of Scotland announces biggest loss ever :

While the hundreds of billions of pounds of public money flows into these institutions to prop them up, perhaps the public should be asking, will such regulation to prevent such a mess happening to our banks ever come to fruition ?

The short answer to that is “No”, simply because what we have always seen is that when stronger regulation of a profession or industry is proposed, what sets out as a genuine attempt to introduce stronger measures to protect consumers, is stopped dead by many of those same politicians who are now bleating like sheep and blaming everyone other than themselves for the failures of our financial institutions.

Why do those attempts at introducing stronger, more independent regulation, fail at Parliamentary stage ?

Well they fail because the professions who are going to be affected by such regulation, co-opt the parliamentary process and ensure any parts of that planned regulation is either watered down to be so ineffective, or simply removed all together.

There is a prime example of this for everyone to take note of in these dire days of banking collapses – that being the introduction of increased regulation for the Scottish legal profession, during 2006, culminating in the Legal Profession & Legal Aid (Scotland) Act 2007

Despite the work of many campaigners & groups, and consumer bodies, the Law Society of Scotland co-opted the Parliamentary process at the Scottish Parliament, and watered down many parts of the LPLA (Scotland) Act which would have protected consumers of legal services in Scotland much more than what the act currently does.

You can read an earlier report on how the LPLA BIll passed Holyrood with amendments here : Legal Profession & Legal Aid Bill finally passed by Scottish Parliament, with amendments.

You can read more about the bitter battles to push through the LPLA Bill into law here : Scotland’s LPLA Act – not doing well in regulating legal services

As a result of the LPLA (Scotland) Act 2007, we now have the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission, which originally under the previous Scottish Executive, was intended to effectively regulate the legal profession, with also consideration given to historical issues of complaints which had led to the creation of the legislation which created the commission in the first place.

However, with the intervention of the May 2007 election in Scotland, the SNP controlled Scottish Government, more precisely, the administrations of it’s Justice Secretary, Kenny MacAskill, has allowed the legal profession itself to effectively castrate the regulator powers of rigid consumer protection, which were originally intended to put an end to all the ‘crooked lawyer’ problems of the past.

SLCC squareSLCC – as much use as no use at all to consumers. In actual fact, the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission has become such a besieged quango, bereft of public trust & confidence, it has become too afraid to publish pictures of its own members, for fear many consumers will realise that the Commission appointees, made by Kenny MacAskill personally, has become just another lawyers rubber stamp club for corruption and poor service in the legal profession which the Law Society of Scotland has managed to do so well for years.

Scottish Legal Complaints Commission – Would you trust them with complaints against lawyers ?

Scottish Legal Complaints Commission

Audit & Finance Committee montageSLCC prefers secrecy to transparency as FOIs reveal. It turns out the SLCC are just too busy keeping themselves so secret,it looks like they have forgot they are supposed to be there to investigate complaints against crooked lawyers, but with most of the staff coming from the Law Society of Scotland, which created the problem in the first place, where crooked lawyers were being let off the hook in thousands of whitewash investigations, there seems little hope for the SLCC to do any different .. and as things stand it seems we are in for more of the same – a definite example to keep away from in improving regulation of financial services after the banking collapse.

MacAskill tight lippedKenny MacAskill gave £2million ‘gift’ to lawyers quango. Strangely enough, the Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill has lavished millions of pounds of public money on his shiny new regulator while the quango was actually receiving millions of pounds from the legal profession itself. The SLCC, rather than get down to work as the campaigners including Cabinet Secretary John Swinney had originally hoped, then promptly spent it all on personal pension benefits, salaries, perks, medical benefits and just about anything other than actually helping consumers with complaints against legal services.

You can read more about Mr MacAskill’s multi million pound gifts to the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission here : MacAskill silent on taxpayers £2million ‘write off’ to lawyers quango as Complaints boss reveals Law Society defaulted on levies

The legal profession in effect, re-wrote the rules of regulation and powers that the new legislation of the LPLA (Scotland) Act 2007, was supposed to give the ‘independent’ Scottish Legal Commission to help the public, and the SNP simply sat back and watched, even actually joined in the orgy of fiddling, and made sure it placed those who the legal profession wanted to be on the SLCC, at its helm.

As Mr MacAskill has always said – he will protect the legal profession at all costs. I wonder if John Swinney would be so bold to make such a sweeping statement for bankers and financial services ?

Kenny MacAskill – Claimed in Parliament he would protect lawyers against consumers, out of a great debt owed by the SNP Govt to the legal profession …

So if you are looking for a new model of regulation for the banking sector, to prevent trillions of pounds of public money going on failed banks, while their ex Chief Executives walk away with 690,000 pension perks, then don’t look to Kenny MacAskill or the SNP’s ideas of regulating lawyers, because they simply don’t work .. and don’t look to leaders of the legal profession for much help, because as you can see, those same leading lights of Scotland’s legal elite, couldn’t wait to support the likes of Sir Fred Goodwin, and blame the Government for the failures, rather than the bankers themselves.

Ex Law Society Chief Douglas Mill speaks out in support of Sir Fred Goodwin and blames Govt for RBS failure.

You can read more about Douglas Mill’s support of Sir Fred Goodwin, and rush to blame everyone else for the RBS’s failure here : Royal Bank failure blamed on lack of regulation by ex Law Society Boss who campaigned against stronger regulation of solicitors

And finally … we also learned yesterday that the possible legal case which may have caused the RBS a bit of pain financially, failed at a Sheriff Court in Oban yesterday, when Sheriff Pender ruled on Ian Hamilton QC’s small claims action against the RBS that the complexity of the case meant it could not be heard as a “small claims” action, which would have limited expenses to around £150. Perhaps Mr Hamilton should try suing the ex bosses of RBS in the small claims court personally ?

Ian Hamilton QC’s action against RBS is abandoned

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