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Law Society of Scotland & Lord Lester QC challenge new legislation to protect Scottish public against crooked lawyers

03 Oct

A little secret let itself out today – THE LAW SOCIETY OF SCOTLAND AND THE SCOTTISH LEGAL PROFESSION ARE DETERMINED TO WRECK THE PROSPECT OF CONSUMERS GETTING INDEPENDENT REGULATION OF COMPLAINTS AGAINST LAWYERS.

How did I find that out ? Simple.

The Law Society of Scotland issued a press release for Tueday 11 April .. and here we have the article accusing the new law watchdog to be formed in 2007/2008 as being “in breach of Human Rights Law” by the Liberal Democrat Lord Lester QC – so it seems, the Lib Dems are showing again, their posture against the electorate which also showed itself in their vote against an inquiry into the McKie fake fingerprint scandal (they voted to keep things secret from the public) … so, Lib Dems = against transparency and fairness to the consumer …. a simple statement with valid evidence to support it …

Of course, since this bill is directed against the legal profession, and Lord Lester is after all, a QC and therefore a member of the legal profession, he won’t like independent agencies probing crooked lawyers (the Law Society uses the word quango – only because it suits them here to do so) .. and even though the Law Society of Scotland has supported the Bill so far, their support has and always will be, a SHAM – because their real intention has always been to undermine the bill at whatever cost it takes ..

According to a source from within the Law Society, there have been extensive discussions on how to delay the bill as long as possible, so it would fall into a General Election period and not become law … strategies have also been put in place to allegedly “confuse” the Justice 2 Committee into calling for delays in the legislation to further consider the effects of certain parts of the bill, and ‘in house’ trial Committee Hearings by the lawyers have already taken place on this matter, confronting those who are going to be put in front of the real Justice 2 Committee with remarkably similar questions as they will face in the Scottish Parliament .. so that they get their answers & responses right for the day – or in other words – the lawyers are making sure their lies & fiddles are all the same so there’s no holes to poke through … just like what happened with the Justice 1 Committee back in 2001…

We all have to be careful of these types of opinions given out by the so-called experts, to interfere with legislation which the consumer requires …. and since this opinion is sponsored by the Law Society of Scotland itself, who are determined to ruin the legislation at any costs – and ruin YOUR chances of ever getting a fair hearing against a lawyer who is ripping you off … we have to make this matter as public as possible, make the campaign to bring it into law as public as possible, and expose this sordid dirty attempt to scupper the new Bill …. but be on your guard everyone, because this is just the beginning of the war for this legislation to come into law ….

… but while such a so-called expert as Lord Lester will come out and defend his own colleagues rights under ECHR, he won’t take on a case where a client has had their ECHR rights abused by a lawyer, the Law Society, or his colleagues in the legal profession as a whole …. quite a case of double standards, don’t you think ? Certainly, YES !

.. for instance, my own fight with the Law Society of Scotland spanning 12 years continues, with the likes of Philip Yelland, Director of the Client Relations Office, and Douglas Mill, the Chief Executive of the Law Society of Scotland – constantly breaching my ECHR rights – and those same rights of THOUSANDS of other clients every year who complain against their lawyers .. but do we get anywhere ? NO …. because no lawyer will ever take a case on against another lawyer where the client claims the legal profession is breaching their ECHR rights ….and if we ever write a letter to the likes of Douglas Mill telling him he is breaching our ECHR rights – he just sits back and laughs, and then plans some more dirty tricks against us .. just like he did in my case, which you can read about here : http://petercherbi.blogspot.com/2006/03/leaked-letter-shows-true-extent-of-law.html

Of course – it could be that the Scottish Executive have deliberately built in problems such as this to the new legislation – so that it would fail if the legal profession wanted it to …. kind of like .. a safety self destruct device …. and with things being at the Executive & Parliament as they are – this is a REAL possibility …. what other ‘land mines’ are we going to find in the new legislation I wonder ? … and how many do the likes of Douglas Mill at the Law Society know about ? .. or did the lawyer members of the working group on this legislation deliberately insert problems themselves to use later against it ? …… stay tuned for more …

Link from “The Herald” for the first take on this story , at :
http://www.theherald.co.uk/politics/59886.html

Human rights warning over plan for new legal watchdog
PAUL ROGERSON and ROBBIE DINWOODIE April 11 2006

Proposals to introduce an independent system for handling complaints about Scotland’s 10,000 lawyers are “flawed and wrong in law”, a leading human rights authority has warned.

Liberal Democrat peer Lord Lester of Herne Hill was asked for his opinion on the executive’s plans by the Law Society of Scotland, the representative body for the nation’s 9000 solicitors.

The cornerstone of the legislation is the creation of a watchdog to handle complaints – the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission – which will comprise a majority of non-lawyers and end centuries of self-regulation.

The society warned in March the new complaints- handling body could breach the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR).

In a statement yesterday, the society said: “Lord Lester concludes that the proposals, which include setting up a new quango to handle service complaints about lawyers, would not be compatible with human rights law, saying that a right of appeal to a court or tribunal would have to be available for clients and solicitors.”

Under new proposals they would be able to claim up to £20,000 in compensation, four times the present maximum.

John Swinney MSP, the former SNP leader, has long campaigned for a more independent system.

He said: “The society has had quite enough time to come up with a more credible solution than the one proposed.”

However, Douglas Mill, the society’s chief executive, said: “The opinion states there is insufficient right of appeal for the public and the proposals compromise the independence of the legal profession in Scotland.

“There is still time for the executive and justice ministers to take the society’s concerns seriously and correct the bill.”

Lord Lester’s opinion states that the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission would not be an “independent and impartial tribunal” under Article 6 of the convention. He cites the fact that the commission would consider negligence – a civil law matter – as part of service complaints, yet there would be no right of appeal to a judicial body against its decisions.

Under the proposals in the Legal Profession and Legal Aid (Scotland) Bill, a challenge would be possible by judicial review to the Court of Session. But this could only be considered if there had been any flaws in the decision-making process, rather than examine any disputed facts in the case.

Lord Lester’s criticisms came as a leading law professor branded MSPs hypocrites if they impose a reform they would not apply to themselves.

Professor Alastair Bonnington, of Strathclyde University and head lawyer for the BBC in Scotland, said: “If MSPs would be happy with this situation for themselves, it’s perfectly reasonable for them to vote in favour of this bill. If they would not be happy about imposing such a regulatory regime on themselves, they are hypocrites to vote in favour of this bill.”

Link to the article in “The Scotsman” … with the actual Press Release from the Law Society of Scotland following on …http://thescotsman.scotsman.com/scotland.cfm?id=552192006

New law watchdog ‘in breach of human rights law’
MICHAEL HOWIE

A PROPOSED new quango to deal with complaints against Scottish lawyers will be in breach of human rights law, according to one of the UK’s top legal minds.

Lord Lester of Herne Hill said the Executive’s planned reforms of the way that legal complaints are handled are “flawed” and “wrong in law”.

Currently, any complaints against lawyers are handled by the Law Society of Scotland, but under the Legal Profession and Legal Aid (Scotland) Bill, the 10,000 solicitors and advocates will be policed by an independent body – the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission – which will handle most of the thousands of grievances lodged against lawyers every year.

The Law Society has accepted the need for a new complaints watchdog, but has warned that the specific proposals may not comply with the European Convention on Human Rights. They sought the opinion of Lord Lester – one of the UK’s foremost experts in human rights – who has concluded the absence of any right of appeal to an external court or tribunal against a ruling by the commission would contravene human rights law.

The watchdog’s main function will be to handle consumer or service complaints, which comprise about 80 per cent of the grievances made every year about solicitors and advocates.

It will be able to make compensation awards of up to £20,000 against lawyers – a sum which the Law Society says could put some practices out of business; hence the need for a rigorous appeal process to ensure the system is fair.

Douglas Mill, the chief executive of the Law Society, said: “The opinion states that there is insufficient right of appeal for the public and that the proposals compromise the independence of the legal profession in Scotland.

“The society has passed the opinion to the Scottish Executive. A meeting has now been arranged, and there is still time for the Executive and justice ministers to take the society’s concerns seriously to correct the bill.”

However, an Executive spokesman said the bill had been certified by ministers as compliant with the European convention. “We are considering very carefully the opinion put forward by Lord Lester,” he said.

The Actual Press Release from the Law Society of Scotland :

Executive Legal Bill “Flawed… and wrong in law”

Proposals to reform complaints handling in the legal profession are “flawed…and wrong in law”, according to an opinion by a leading human rights authority on the Legal Profession and Legal Aid (Scotland) Bill.
The Law Society of Scotland obtained the opinion of Lord Lester of Herne Hill, Q.C. after it repeatedly warned the Scottish Executive that the Bill might not comply with the European Convention on Human Rights and could compromise the independence of the Scottish legal profession. Lord Lester concludes that the proposals, which include setting up a new quango to handle service complaints about lawyers, would not be compatible with human rights law, saying that a right of appeal to a court or tribunal would have to be available for clients and solicitors.
Douglas Mill, Chief Executive of the Society said: “We have called for an independent body to handle service complaints against solicitors in Scotland but also made it clear that any new system must not only work but also be an improvement on the present system to the benefit of the public and the profession.
“We obtained Lord Lester’s opinion after repeatedly raising our concerns about compliance with Human Rights law with the Scottish Executive. The opinion states that there is insufficient right of appeal for the public and that the proposals compromise the independence of the legal profession in Scotland.
“The Society has passed the opinion to the Scottish Executive. A meeting has now been arranged and there is still time for the Executive and Justice Ministers to take the Society’s concerns seriously to correct the Bill.”
ENDS

Notes to Editors:Lord Lester’s opinion states:
* The Scottish Legal Complaints Comission (SLCC) would not be an “independent and impartial tribunal” as required under Article 6 of ECHR because it would consider negligence – a civil law matter – as part of service complaints yet there would be no right of appeal to a judicial body against its decisions. Under the Executive’s proposals, a challenge would be possible by judicial review to the Court of Session – but that could only be considered if there had been any flaws in the decision-making process, rather than examine any disputed facts in the case. * In cases where an administrative body determines civil rights and obligations in a dispute between private parties, it is well established that there must be an independent and impartial court or tribunal with full jurisdiction to decide factual as well as legal issues. * Although the SLCC would in effect be exercising judicial functions, it would not be an independent and impartial tribunal, as required by Article 6 of the European Conventions on Human Rights. The reliance by the Executive upon the availability of judicial review would therefore leave the relevant law in a state of complete uncertainty. If the Bill were enacted in its present form, it is likely, that the courts would annul the legislation as beyond the legislative competence of the Scottish Parliament.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION: please contact Gillian Meighan or Jody Fitchet in the Corporate Communications Office of the Law Society of Scotland by telephone Tel: 0131 476 8167 or 0131 476 8186 or e-mail: gillianmeighan@lawscot.org.uk or jodyfitchet@lawscot.org.uk
A biography of Lord Lester of Herne Hill, QC can be accessed through the House of Lords Section of http://www.parliament.uk/. The Society sought the opinion of Lord Lester of Herne Hill, Q.C. as a pre-eminent expert on human rights law. As a member of the English Bar, he is not affected by the Bill’s proposals.

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Posted by on October 3, 2007 in Law

 

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