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Law Society dirty tricks ends Parliamentary Petition PE1033 for retrospective injustice review

12 Oct

We constantly read in the media of those who commit crimes never showing any repentance for their actions, usually doing their utmost to deny their wrongdoing, even when the evidence is all too plain to see.

And so, it is with the Law Society of Scotland, who never apologise for abusing clients rights when an innocent individual discovers they have been wronged grievously by a solicitor.The Law Society never apologizes of course, because they can get away with abusing clients, and don’t see anything wrong with it.They see it as their right, and they have political friends who support it. As long as that is the case, nothing can stop it.

Imagine,if you will, an abuser, facing a law change which would send them to jail for longer, and force them to pay compensation of their victims, called up their political friends to prevent that law being changed, and the politicians said “Oh yes, we will allow you to go on abusing, we support you”.

How would the public react to that ? Would those same politicians who shielded the abuser’s view of their right to go on abusing & get away with it, last long in political office ? Well, yes, it does happen in a few instances, but for anyone who has fallen victim to the sins of the Law Society of Scotland and crooked lawyers, it has happened all too often.

This is, technically what happened at the Scottish Parliament Petitions Committee on 18 September 2007, where, sadly, but not unexpectedly, my Petition PE1033, to call for a review of cases of injustice, caused by the Law Society of Scotland in it’s role as regulator of complaints against solicitors, a complaints process which has caused such damage to innocent members of the public, was, for now, closed…

The letter from the Petitions Committee :

Feedback Letter PE1033

I knew it would happen of course, the Law Society, as determined as it is, and as full of hate as it is for anyone who criticises it’s position as regulator of complaints against solicitors, would succeed in either delaying or ending what is, an obvious call for the sins of the past to put right.

Here is the Law Society of Scotland’s letter to the Scottish Parliament Petitions Committee members, arriving at the Parliament, by usual means of dirty tricks, the very same day the Petition was being considered. The Law Society had since December 2006 to make the spurious claims they laid before the Committee ….

The letter from the Law Society of Scotland to the Petitions Committee :

Law Society of Scotland PE1033 Page 1Law Society of Scotland PE1033 Page 2

Item 1 of the Law Society’s letter, gives a summary of how the Legal Profession & Legal Aid (Scotland) Act 2007 came into being, which barely passed into law last year, after constant meddling, arm twisting, even threats to take the Parliament to Court if parts of the then LPLA Bill were not amended to the Law Society’s interests … None of that is mentioned in Mr Clancy’s summary of how the LPLA Bill progressed through the Parliament and into law because Mr Clancy puts forward the Law Society’s view of itself and demands that no one can take issue with it.

Item 2 of the Law Society’s letter, the shorter part, and in the usual style of the Law Society when answering it’s critics, attempts to sideline the reforms & additional powers I asked for in Petition PE1033, which were to either give extended powers to the new Scottish Legal Complaints Commission to review & resolve past cases of complaint mishandled by the Law Society of Scotland, or, form an independent review commission with a similar remit.

There is of course, nothing at all, no mention whatsoever in the Legal Profession & Legal Aid (Scotland) Act 2007, of any such reforms or extended powers to which I called for in Petition PE1033, as is plain to see.

The Law Society claim further, in the letter, that

“The Parliament passed the Legal Profession and Legal Aid (Scotland) Act 2007 on 14 December 2006. Mr Cherbi submitted his petition on 15 December 2006.

Mr Cherbi’s wish to make changes to the jurisdiction of the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission could have been considered by the Parliament on 14 December had he promoted amendments to the Parliament.

The Act received the Royal Assent on 19 January 2007 and is in the process of implementation. In the Society’s view, the Act should be given the opportunity to be fully implemented and to be put into operation before its amendment should be contemplated.

Really ? I think you jest Mr Clancy, and you know it full well.

So Mr Clancy wants to give the LPLA Act an opportunity to be “fully implemented and put into operation before this amendment should be contemplated.”

The same LPLA Act which his colleague, Law Society Chief Executive Douglas Mill threatened to bring down with legal action against both the Scottish Executive & Scottish Parliament unless it was amended to suit the needs of the legal profession.

Does perhaps, Mr Clancy have plans for the progress of implementation of the LPLA Act to which we are not privy yet ? ..

Perhaps, as one of the rumours circulating from the Justice Department being that somewhere along the line, the Law Society will support a challenge by one of it’s solicitors against the LPLA Act and the SLCC on the grounds that particular legislation or operation of the SLCC has … breached that particular solicitors Human Rights ? ….. just the same as what happened with Temporary Sheriffs, then we see the SLCC suspended in it’s function while the Law Society of Scotland come back to self regulate the legal profession for its own interests as it has always done ?

This is one of the scenarios which has been under consideration by politicians in the event that Douglas Mill and the Law Society decide yet again to threaten to kill off the LPLA Act & the function of the SLCC …. so, better now to look at either implementing the aims of Petition PE1033 as an ‘amendment’ or more simply, have the Justice Secretary convene a review commission to carry out the terms of Petition PE1033 .. sooner rather than later.

If I had put forward amendments to the LPLA Bill, the Parliament would have considered them and thrown them out quicker than the speed of light, on orders from the Law Society because such amendments would effectively call into question many many cases of poorly & deliberately mishandled complaints by the Law Society of Scotland over many years.

I have been asking since 1999, since the Justice & Home Affairs Committee of the Scottish Parliament first examined whether to investigate regulation of the legal profession, that the sins of the past be put right.

To clearly show the long history of this matter, you can read the submissions of myself, and many others to the Justice 1 Committee ‘regulation of the legal profession’ hearings in 2003 and again, submissions from myself and many others to the Justice 2 Committee consideration of the LPLA Bill during 2006.

Clearly, at least one MSP out of them all, should have proposed the issue of dealing with injustice caused by the Law Society to clients whose complaints were poorly or deliberately mishandled by the law Society of Scotland – there was ample evidence, after all .. but not one MSP was brave enough to raise it as an issue, despite every MSP in the Parliament receiving letters from constituents on problems with ‘crooked lawyers’.

Why on earth would I, and many others, have been campaigning over the years, since 1994 actually, for an end to self regulation of the legal profession, the creation of an independent regulatory body to deal with complaints against solicitors, and as obvious to all, a clean up of the injustice of the past by the Law Society who either poorly or deliberately in many cases, mishandled complaints against solicitors ?

Petition PE1033 – Reviewing mishandled complaints against lawyers :

PE1033 Page 1PE1033 Page 2PE1033 Page 3

Here are the details from the Committee Official Report on how my Petition PE1033 was considered :

Legal Profession (Complaints) (PE1033)

The Convener: I thank committee members and the public for their patience. We have heard from two petitioners and we must now give appropriate consideration to a series of petitions.

PE1033, which was lodged by Peter Cherbi—I hope that I have pronounced that right—calls on the Scottish Parliament to seek an effective, transparent and wholly independent means of reviewing cases of alleged injustice, caused by actions and decisions of the Law Society of Scotland and the Faculty of Advocates that relate to the regulation of complaints made by members of the public against the legal profession, either by giving powers to the new Scottish legal complaints commission or by setting up an independent review commission. Before being formally lodged, the petition was hosted on the Parliament’s e-petition system, where between 9 February and 2 June it gathered 46 signatures and three comments.

Do members have views on how to deal with the petition? We have received a letter from the Law Society of Scotland, which is one of the organisations that we might contact as part of our consideration. I will not pre-empt the discussion by talking about what the letter says. That would be

Col 120

unfair to members, who have not seen the letter, because it arrived this afternoon.

Nanette Milne: I have seen the letter from the Law Society of Scotland. I think I am right when I say that significant legislation has been passed; the Legal Profession and Legal Aid (Scotland) Act 2007 has not yet been fully enacted, but it will establish the Scottish legal complaints commission. I confess that I do not know the detail around that, but I know that the Justice 2 Committee in the previous session of the Parliament took detailed evidence on the issues.

Given that the new arrangements are not yet fully up and running, would it be a little premature to consider the petition at this stage? Might it be better to deal with it as part of post-legislative scrutiny? I am interested in what members think about that.

15:30

Rhoda Grant: I was about to say much the same thing. It is important to let legislation bed in and, when significant changes have been made, to ascertain whether the new system is working. After that, the new system can be reviewed by the appropriate committee of the Parliament.

The Convener: Do members agree?

Tricia Marwick: Despite the raft of legislation that has been passed, it seems that dissatisfaction remains about the legal profession, which might or might not be lessened when all legislative provisions are in place. It might be worth while to write to the Law Society of Scotland or the Scottish Government about the petition, to ask whether it is anticipated that all the petitioner’s concerns will be addressed when all provisions are in force. I suspect that all the petitioner’s concerns will not be addressed. We might ask what further provisions could be considered.

Robin Harper: We must acknowledge that there is a group of people in Scotland—a relatively small number, I hope—who, for personal reasons, are deeply disturbed by the treatment that they have had from lawyers. The depth of their feelings should not influence committee members as much as the sensible approach that Nanette Milne suggested, which is to wait until the legislation that has been passed is in force, before considering what can be done in the context of post-legislative scrutiny.

The Convener: Two distinct approaches have been suggested: to seek further views on the appropriateness of the petition in the context of existing legislation and to ask whether existing legislation will address the petitioner’s concerns; or to wait until post-legislative scrutiny takes place.

Col 121

Nanette Milne: Are the two approaches mutually exclusive?

Robin Harper: I do not think so. We can do both.

The Convener: I hope that the approaches are not mutually exclusive. I am trying to find healing words.

Nanette Milne: We can do both, ideally.

The Convener: Are we not closing the petition?

Fergus Cochrane (Clerk): If the committee decides that existing provisions are sufficient to deal with the concerns that are raised in the petition, it can close the petition on that basis.

John Farquhar Munro: Can we take advice from the Scottish legal complaints commission?

The Convener: The issue is whether we can close the petition at this stage on the basis that we can revisit it if issues emerge from post-legislative scrutiny or comments made by the Government, the law officers or anyone else.

Fergus Cochrane: If you close the petition, you close it.

The Convener: That is what I was trying to get at. What do members want to do?

Tricia Marwick: I would not want to go to the wall on this. A few members think that the legislation needs to bed down and I would not divide the committee on that. We might say to the petitioner that we will close the petition at this stage, but if he wants to come back to us after the provisions have been enacted and have bedded in we will consider more specific points at that stage.

The Convener: That seems a sensible way to resolve a difficult issue, given the journey that has been taken. We might recommend closing the petition on the basis that we expect to hear something about post-legislative scrutiny. We can remind the petitioner that if his concerns have not been appropriately dealt with in the new legislative framework, the opportunity remains for him to lodge another petition. I thank members for their helpful contributions.

Sadly, I think only Tricia Marwick MSP actually understood what Petition PE1033 was all about, and what I was asking for in it, rather than accepting the Law Society explanation in their letter, ideally timed to keep scrutiny of the issue to a minimum.

I do thank all of you who signed the Petition on the Parliament’s website. I am sorry of course, for letting you down but the battle goes on, to bring redress to those who suffer & have suffered injustice at the hands of the legal profession in Scotland.

Well, I can only but try again of course, and to assist that somewhat, and given I heard a whisper the Petition was to be closed (amazing, isn’t it), I wrote to the Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill several days before the Petitions Committee met, asking that he consider the aims of Petition PE1033, with a view to his office implementing the calls for review & resolution of past injustice caused by the mishandling, deliberate or otherwise, of complaints against solicitors by the Law Society of Scotland.

Mr MacAskill could do that. He does have the power to either call for a review & resolution of past injustice caused by the legal profession against members of the public, by way of putting together a Commission, or himself, putting forward extended powers to be passed by the Parliament, just as the Law Society have occasionally done in the past, using Solicitor MSPs to put forward & promote legislation when it suited them to do so

My letter to Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill :

MacAskill PE1033 Page 1MacAskill PE1033 Page 2

The Law Society of Scotland know of, and apparently have, a copy of my letter to Mr MacAskill, so I can imagine they will try and flummox him with the same deadly poison they laid before the Petitions Committee.

However, I hope that Mr MacAskill, a member of the legal profession himself, will see sense and give, what are ‘healing powers’ to the new Scottish Legal Complaints Commission to clean up the Law Society of Scotland’s sins of the past. After all, cleaning up the sins of the past, isn’t such a bad thing to do now, is it ?

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