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A time for truth, reconciliation, & settlement of injustice between the Scottish legal profession and the public

05 Oct

 As I have previously said – and I’m sure many of you would agree with .. What good is new legislation to remedy an issue of corruption & public confidence in our legal system, without a review & settlement of the past injustice ?

As you all know, I have filed a petition at the Scottish Parliament calling for such a review to take place, and I wrote about that here : Petition PE 1033 – A call for action, review & settlement for victims of the Scottish legal profession’s injustice against client complaints.

You can read my petition here : Petition PE1033 (pdf) :

Petition by Peter Cherbi calling for the Scottish Parliament to seek an effective, transparent and wholly independent means of review of cases of alleged injustice, caused by actions and decisions of the Law Society of Scotland and Faculty of Advocates, relating to the regulation of complaints made by members of the public against the legal profession, either by giving such powers to the new Scottish Legal Complaints Commission or by setting up an independent review commission.

Last week, the Scottish Parliament asked me to file an e-petition on this issue, to stimulate discussion, and hopefully, gain signatures to progress the petition to Parliamentary consideration and action, so last Friday, I did just that, and the e-petition is now up on the Parliament website, which you can all go and see here : http://epetitions.scottish.parliament.uk/view_petition.asp?PetitionID=149

Readers, friends, fellow victims of the legal profession, and those of you who value an honest, transparent, robust legal system, dedicated to serving the interests of the public & justice, in an honorable way, I ask you to support this petition – even, if you like, make it your own, or even a collective effort, so that the past sins of the legal profession against the public, can be accounted for and put right – and that the legal profession can learn a lesson in how to treat clients properly and conduct their business in an honest, transparent manner.

It is vitally important, I believe, that, together with the new legislation of the Legal Profession & Legal Aid (Scotland) Bill, which I and many others have tirelessly campaigned for since the early 1990s, there is now, a root & branch review of the way in which the legal profession’s governing bodies – the Law Society of Scotland & the Faculty of Advocates, treated members of the public who had difficulties with their lawyers, to the point of extreme prejudice & discrimination which has widely been reported over the years in the media, by consumer organisations such as the Scottish Consumer Council, & by many ordinary people just like ourselves who have struggled against the odds on the issue of reform to the legal profession.

Why do I say truth, reconciliation & settlement ? Well, that’s an easy answer.

There can be no truth without reconciliation, and there can be no reconciliation without the truth – and both are needed if we are to progress out of this mess and a cery corrupt image for Scotland’s legal profession & legal system. Settlement of course, is required to all those who have suffered grievously under the corrupt system of self regulation which necessitated the campaign to bring reforms such as the Legal Profession & Legal Aid (Scotland) Bill.

The legal profession, have to recognise the fact they failed in their duty to represent the interests of the client and their own members. Countless scandals over the years where the public have been robbed blind by their legal representatives, with nothing being done about it, little or no compensation being paid out to those clients who lost everything over a crooked lawyer, and members of the public being actively obstructed by the most senior ranks of the Law Society of Scotland in trying to pursue cases in the courts against errant solicitors. [insert example of Douglas Mill Memos etc]

The Scottish Executive also have to recognise they also failed in their duty to the public as they sat by, having the evidence from many reports & complaints direct from members of the public & their elected representatives, that self-regulation as mandated in law to the Law Society of Scotland & Faculty of Advocates was “unfit for purpose” – for decades.

Indeed, it’s taken the Scottish Executive & the Scottish Parliament nearly eight years to do something about the problem, despite the roll of victims growing ever more & the increasingly numerous pleas for help from the public against the evils of self-regulation where lawyer investigates lawyer & ends up covering for colleagues who argue the most devilishly false claims against clients to get off the hook, all stage managed by a few select people from the insidiously corrupt Client Relations Office of the Law Society of Scotland, whose remit has been to get every crooked lawyer off the hook they can – and what a successful operation they have ran .. despite a growing number of around 5000+ complaints a year against Scotland’s less than 10,000 solicitors, hardly any action is taken by the Law Society which satisfies or recompenses for the huge losses & complex financial frauds weaved by solicitors against both private & unknowing corporate clients.

I also said reconciliation” – and I meant it.

Yes, there has to be a reconciliation between the legal profession & the public, if there is to be any confidence in the legal system and the ability of its members & officials to represent the best interests of the public & justice in the courts – but such a reconciliation cannot come until there has been a truth, admission and settlement established over the sins of the past by the legal profession against clients, which are sadly grievous and aplenty.

It remains to be seen of course, if the legal profession is willing to admit its errant ways & cast aside it’s deeply corrupt practices against clients & stage managing regulatory issues to get colleagues off the hook, but whatever both sides feel, in the wake of the introduction of the Legal Profession & Legal Aid Bill, there now has to be an honest effort to heal the legal system, which has been so damaged by what has gone before.

Today, in the light of Justice Minister Cathy Jamieson’s own comments & the launching of the review by Lord Gill of the civil courts system in Scotland, I am asking for the Justice Minister & the Executive to openly support Petition PE1033 and the idea of a review & settlement of the past treatment by the legal profession against members of the public who have had to go through the terribly corrupt & prejudiced procedures of complaining against a crooked lawyer – which more often than not left a client even worse off than after the lawyer had ripped them off.

The Letter to Justice Minister Cathy Jamieson: (Click on the letter to visit my Flikr Photo Gallery for a larger size)

Letter to Justice Minister Cathy Jamieson MSP

I think it only fair, in the circumstances, the Executive take a role here and do something for what has happened to us all. After all, we have all written to the Executive over the years, and through our elected politicians .. seeking answers & assistance but getting the same tired excuse of ‘ nothing to do with us, it’s the Law Society you should contact…” .. Well, the time for that is now over, and a good place to start in cleaning up this situation, would be for the Executive to take on & support the ideas contained in my petition, to benefit all of those affected by the mishandled & prejudiced self regulatory process of lawyer investigating lawyer at the Law Society of Scotland..

This healing, however, has to start with ideas from us, as we all know the legal profession would rather sweep such issues aside, and I hope all of you can support Petition PE1033, the implementation of which will see eventual benefits to both the public, and the legal profession in the long term.

Peter Cherbi.

The Herald article reporting on today’s announcement of a review of the Civil Courts

http://www.theherald.co.uk/news/news/display.var.1188390.0.0.php

Shake-up to make civil cases easier and cheaper
DOUGLAS FRASER, Scottish Political Editor February 13 2007

A WIDE-ranging review of Scotland’s civil courts to make them more accessible and cheaper for the public will be led by the nation’s second most senior judge, it was announced yesterday.

The remit for the inquiry, to be headed by Lord Gill, the Lord Justice Clerk, suggests it could lead to root and branch reforms including fast-track procedures and simpler ways of pursuing small claims.

A strong theme of the review will be increased use of mediation. A report on civil justice published by the Scottish Executive yesterday, said: “It makes sense to pursue policies that work towards the early resolution of disputes, preferably by negotiation between the parties involved and without resort to the courts.”

It also concluded that civil courts do not currently “help to resolve disputes at the earliest possible stage, or at proportionate economic cost”.

The launch of the Gill Review was welcomed by the Scottish Consumer Council (SCC) and by the Law Society of Scotland.

George Way, the convener of the society’s civil procedure committee, said: “Real benefits to the consumer and the wider public are achieved by a system that enhances access to justice while maintaining the safeguards offered by properly regulated legal service providers.”

We all need to have access to a system that protects our rights and enforces the law if necessary”
Cathy Jamieson

Martyn Evans, SCC director, said an advisory group set up by them in 2005 had concluded a review of civil law was needed to ensure it remains up to date and effective.

He said: “We are very pleased that ministers have recognised the need for such a review to ensure that the civil justice system fulfils the needs of the people of Scotland in the 21st century. We hope that this review will result in a more user-friendly system which will allow consumers to resolve their disputes more quickly, cheaply and easily than at present.”

Civil justice has suffered from growing evidence that the public are dissatisfied, seeing it as out of date, inefficient and expensive. Much of this was brought to light in the review by the SCC, published in November 2005.

That proposed a cut in the cost of legal action, particularly where small amounts are concerned, less disruption by the priority given to criminal courts, more specialisation of courts and judges, a stronger role for courts in managing cases, fixed fees for lawyers and more powers to ensure judgments are observed.

Some aspects of civil law have recently been reformed at Holyrood, including the law of marriage and civil partnerships, child protection measures and reform of debt recovery. The review will consider a clearer separation of criminal and civil courts, and creating more specialised courts with judges having expertise in particular areas of law.

Lord Gill will also look at class action law, used in England and the US, in which several cases are considered together, reaching a judgment that can potentially be applied to thousands of others. He will consider whether judges can have greater powers to limit the amount and nature of evidence, in the face of commercial cases that drag on for years.

Justice Minister Cathy Jamieson said yesterday: “The civil law affects virtually every aspect of our daily lives; raising our families, earning a living, looking after our property and protecting our environment. Difficulties and disputes can arise in any of those areas. We all need to have access to a system that protects our rights and enforces the law if necessary”.

She went on: “I am confident that this comprehensive examination will ensure that Scotland continues to have a fair, efficient and effective civil justice system for the 21st century. One that is able to support family and business relationships, protect legal rights and solve legal problems.”

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Posted by on October 5, 2007 in Law

 

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