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Law Society of Scotland rejects complaint over estate ruined by huge legal fees

05 Oct

It looks like the Edinburgh legal & financial investment firm of Turcan Connell, which has offices at 1 Earl Grey Street, Edinburgh and in Guernsey,the Channel Islands can be added to the long list of legal firms to stay away from, judging from today’s Herald newspaper report on how they administered an estate.

Turcan Connell seem to like the money and publicity .. as long as they are getting it written for their benefit, that is … noting their recent claim to fame of hitting £450m in their investments … see here : Law firm Turcan Connell funds hit £450m … but despite the £450m in their investment portfolio .. they still manage to ruin an estate … much in the same way, it seems that crooked Borders solicitor Drew Penman – Scotland’s Most Famous Crooked Lawyer of Stormonth Darling Solicitors, Kelso .. did to my family .. and a few other clients too.

I can sympathise with Dr Kate Forrest on this one .. making a complaint against a firm of solicitors who have raped an estate can be a tedious affair .. and the Law Society, it all it’s crooked glory, are loathed to do anything on such cases, as they have done in the case of Dr Forrest’s complaint against Turcan Connell .. well ..actually, the Law Society of Scotland have went one better, and thrown the complaint out.

Quotes from the Herald article today :

Forrest complained that the firm had told her only that it would charge £200 an hour, had entered into unnecessary work, and had failed to give her estimates, or issue itemised bills, despite repeated requests. She claims the firm then gave an undertaking to halt the charges, in a meeting with witnesses at the firm’s office, but this did not materialise.

When the Law Society examined the complaint, it ruled that the meeting could not be taken into account as the firm had no record of it, and it accepted an explanation by managing partner Douglas Connell that the complaint had been based entirely on a “misunderstanding”.

The £16,000 in charges had the effect of more than wiping out any assets in the estate, which had gross assets of £69,574 but debts of £55,731.

The Law Society reported that the firm had “apologised for the oversight” in billing, and that “simple oversight … should not be defined as inadequate professional service”

Well, when a lawyer tells you they will charge only a set fee .. believe me .. it’s a LIE. You got that one, right ? in English. A LIE.

Ask a lawyer for estimates of work ? What you get, if anything, is a LIE. Got that ? A LIE. I’ve tried it myself. They didn’t provide me with an estimate despite repeated requests, and the lawyer then denied I ever made such requests – removed the file notes which matched my email records, took a sickie to get out of the complaint (he got off the hook of course) and then became a Law Accountant.

Another client of a lawyer who contacted me, told me they got an estimate back for £1500 and the final bill ended up at £8000.

Lawyers fake up paperwork on a daily basis. There must be more faked paperwork in lawyers offices in Scotland than there is fake currency floating round the planet.

They don’t always fake up the paperwork too well though .. When Drew Penman was faking up the paperwork on my complaint .. he got some of the dates wrong and some of the staff entries upside down .. managed to insert the wrong documents into the wrong order .. and cleverly, the Law Society Complaints Reporter found this one out for himself .. that’s why he recommended Drew Penman be prosecuted before the SSDT and be struck off .. but, being represented by equally crooked James Ness, now the Director of Law Care … Penman got off the hook with even more fiddled evidence at the Complaints Committee hearing.

So you see .. faking up the paperwork is common .. and fake estimates from a lawyer for work .. if you ever actually manage to get one .. aren’t worth the ink it takes to type them out.

I liked the part in the article where the Law Society said it couldn’t accept the information relating to the ‘meeting’ where fees were discussed .. “as the firm had no record of it” … great cop-out there, if familiar .. which goes down to fiddled minutes of meetings – which usually exist .. but the lawyer can remove them at will, because the Law Society of Scotland says they can do that .. it’s called “right of lien” which is also used to keep files from a client until they pay for their services .. and even then .. surprise, any file the lawyer deems shouldn’t be released to the client, is held back.

Maybe the minutes of the meeting did actually exist in this case … we shall perhaps, never know .. but I know the same happened in my complaint against Drew Penman … minutes of meetings were denied to exist .. the mysteriously turned up .. some of them faked of course .. so Dr Forrest should perhaps pursue that one further.

More quotes from the Herald article :

If a client feels a fee is too much then it can be referred to the Auditor of Court who can decide what a reasonable fee might be. Firms may also charge for providing a bill which itemises each letter, phone call, etc, especially if it is for a large volume of work.

“If someone takes a court action against a solicitor then the society is not involved in that process.”

Well, the process involving the ‘Auditor of the Court’ is usually referred to as “Judicial Taxation” … but it’s certainly no cure for the whims of crooked legal firms to charge what they want for services which usually are poorly handled.

You will all remember the famous £45,000 bill for photocopying which Tods Murray hit one of their clients with .. which was I heard, reduced to around £7,000 or even less after ‘Judicial Taxation’ .. but it doesn’t always go the way of the client …. as the Auditor of the Court can get things wrong a lot too .. and there have been a few challenges to the validity of the Auditor of the Court’s position over the years .. one fine example being a Judicial Review of the Auditor’s actions, which you can read about here : OUTER HOUSE, COURT OF SESSION [2006] CSOH 169 OPINION OF J GORDON REID Q.C., F.C.I.Arb (sitting as a Temporary Judge) in the Petition of DANIEL PATRICK COYLE Petitioner; for Judicial Review of a decision of the Auditor of the Court of Session .. some good info on the Auditor of the Court contained in that one …

However, the Law Society’s statement : “If someone takes a court action against a solicitor then the society is not involved in that process.” is simply, a LIE.

Here’s proof of otherwise : The Corrupt Link Revealed – How the Law Society of Scotland manages client complaints & settlements.

More proof here : Law Society of Scotland claims success in gagging the press over Herald newspaper revelations of secret case memos

The Law Society of Scotland have a well practiced policy of managing all claims against solicitors, to make sure claims get nowhere and clients lose everything.

Indeed, what is happening to the estate in terms of the legal charges which will wipe out the estate assets, is quite common. After all, that’s exactly what Drew Penman did to me .. and that’s exactly what lawyers up and down Scotland do to estates – wipe them out by using up all their assets, cash, opening up high interest overdraft accounts with favoured Banks and squandering all the money in cosy deals between themselves and the Banks. Simple stuff – it’s policy on all estates.

Here is a remarkably similar story Peter Laing from Scotland on Sunday wrote about my case involving crooked lawyer Drew Penman :

Scotland on Sunday February 2001 - Legal Profession in the dock over complaints about self regulation

Take a will to a lawyer, and plenty of you will get the same. I get reports of this all the time, and I know it’s true, because it happened to my family.

I doubt Dr Forrest will be able to get a lawyer to sue a lawyer .. many of us have tried it, and it doesn’t work, as you can see from my own coverage in the Scotsman newspaper, which began with a story back in October 1994 here :

Scotsman 18 October 1994 Son threatens to walk away from inheritance after legal row

Complaints such as Dr Forrest’s should be referred to the new SLCC, as it’s plain for all to see the Law Society of Scotland are not doing their job, and never really have. It’s time for a full review of the treatment of complaints against lawyers by clients over the years which have been subject to the utmost prejudice in favour of solicitors, by the most corrupt self regulatory body in existence – the Law Society of Scotland.

Here’s the link to the Herald article today, and prepare yourselves for an even more gruesome story of the lengths crooked lawyers will go to defeat complaints later this week. Gruesome, and perhaps even, evil.

http://www.theherald.co.uk/business/77839.html

Legal bill wipes out net assets

IAIN MORSE and SIMON BAIN January 02 2007

A leading Edinburgh law firm which charged fees of more than £16,000 to administer an estate with net assets of under £14,000 has had a complaint against it to the Law Society of Scotland rejected.

The complaint was made by widow Dr Kate Forrest, a lecturer in Russian in Edinburgh, against Turcan Connell, the multi-disciplinary firm which prides itself on its “family office”.

Forrest complained that the firm had told her only that it would charge £200 an hour, had entered into unnecessary work, and had failed to give her estimates, or issue itemised bills, despite repeated requests. She claims the firm then gave an undertaking to halt the charges, in a meeting with witnesses at the firm’s office, but this did not materialise.

When the Law Society examined the complaint, it ruled that the meeting could not be taken into account as the firm had no record of it, and it accepted an explanation by managing partner Douglas Connell that the complaint had been based entirely on a “misunderstanding”.

The £16,000 in charges had the effect of more than wiping out any assets in the estate, which had gross assets of £69,574 but debts of £55,731.

The Law Society reported that the firm had “apologised for the oversight” in billing, and that “simple oversight … should not be defined as inadequate professional service”.

In November, Jane Irvine, the Scottish Legal Services Ombudsman, issued a rare public rebuke to the Law Society over its handling of complaints, urging it to “recognise that the consumer age has dawned”.

The Scottish Executive is poised to scrap self-regulation by the profession, policed by the ombudsman, and introduce a Scottish Legal Complaints Commission, which the society is fiercely resisting.

The number of complaints received by the Law Society of Scotland has shot up from 2402 during 2002 to 4849 last year. The 12-page annual report of the society’s Client Relations Office records 1057 cases in which no action was taken at all last year, while in 108 cases a solicitor’s conduct was found unsatisfactory.

The current procedure starts with a reference to the law firm against which the complaint is made, and internal procedures to be followed by firms are laid down by the society. Only after these are exhausted can complainants proceed to the Law Society itself. And then, perhaps surprisingly, complainants can be charged by the law firm for their work in submitting the relevant evidence to the society.

The evidence regarded as acceptable by the society may be limited only to the files presented by the law firm, though it can order the production of “missing”documents – such as the record of a meeting. If a complaint is rejected by the society, the complainants have recourse to the courts. But this means finding a law firm prepared to act against another firm – which as The Herald has reported can be difficult in Edinburgh – at a minimum cost of several thousand pounds, a considerable disincentive to taking legal action.

Kate Forrest says she is left with no choice but to go to court if she wishes to challenge an outstanding fee in excess of £8000. She says: “For me this would be expensive and risky. I am not rich and they know this very well.”

The Law Society of Scotland said: “A complaint about a fee could be service or conduct as it could result from a breach of a rule if there was no letter of engagement, or IPS (inadequate professional service) if there was insufficient communication about a fee with a client.

“If a client feels a fee is too much then it can be referred to the Auditor of Court who can decide what a reasonable fee might be. Firms may also charge for providing a bill which itemises each letter, phone call, etc, especially if it is for a large volume of work.

“If someone takes a court action against a solicitor then the society is not involved in that process.”

Turcan Connell said: “We care deeply about ensuring that we give every client the best possible service. Our trust and tax experts are among the most proficient in Scotland, and we always strive to protect our clients’ interests and minimise their costs as far as possible.

“Dr Forrest is no longer a client. We resolutely protect the privacy of all current and former clients, and would not make any public comment on an individual’s personal circumstances or relationship with us.”

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