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Members interests show Scottish Legal Complaints Commission lacks intended independence from lawyers vested interests

26 Jun

As the days count down to the first of October 2008, when the new Scottish Legal Complaints Commission takes over regulation of service complaints from the Law Society of Scotland, new details emerge of the [sadly] lack of any effort on the part of the Scottish Government to appoint wholly independent individuals to oversee and adjudicate complaints against Scotland’s 10,500 solicitors.

It appears almost, the Law Society of Scotland, which has succeeded in overpowering both the Legal Profession & Legal Aid (Scotland) Act 2007 and the new Scottish Legal Complaints Commission, has simply cloned itself into the new Commission.

I note for instance this week, with the announcement of the new Chief Executive of the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission – Elieen Masterman, was also a member of Law Society of Scotland’s the Professional Conduct Committee, evidence of which you can see here in the Law Society’s annual report of 2004

You can read the Journal of the Law Society’s announcement of Eileen Masterman’s appointment to the Chief Executive’s position here : Complaints Commission has chief executive

Not a very thorough report from the Journal though – they missed out she served on Law Society Committees too … tut tut …

Now, I’m not saying the new Chief Executive shouldn’t be in her post just because she sat on Law Society Committees .. but I am saying that surely, with the public spirit & intentions of the LPLA Act .. that people entirely independent from the legal profession .. entirely independent from the Law Society of Scotland and it’s many regulatory branches .. could have at least been found to staff and run the new [but no longer independent] Scottish Legal Complaints Commission …

Of course, the problem comes in such a situation we have here in the formation of an entirely new regulatory body, where there is a lack of political leadership or incentive to do other than what has done before.

Where for instance, there is no political leadership or political intervention in an industry to reform or change its ways .. that industry will do as it pleases as so many industries have done in the past when it came to disrespecting the rights of consumers.

Here we have that same situation, where the legal ‘industry’ in Scotland seems to be able to do as it pleases, because there is no political leadership or political intervention to ensure that the public interest is kept paramount over that of the industrial interest.

The legal profession’s interest in this case, is to keep control of regulation at all costs, to the point of co-opting what was intended to be a new ‘independent’ complaints commission, now staffed by the very same people, many who have corrupted the regulatory process for many years ensuring clients got nowhere against crooked members of the legal profession.

Sadly in this instance, there appears to be almost no political leadership at all coming from Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill, who has simply sat back and allowed the Law Society to put forward its people to staff, run and enforce the new Scottish Legal Complaints Commission .. and absolutely nothing has been said about it at all ..

If you actually sit down and think about it, the Justice Secretary has failed to show leadership, raise comment, or even just raise an eyebrow on umpteen more issues facing Scots Law today, from corrupted disclosure practices of the Crown Office, to the failures of the Lockerbie Case, to the failure of Law & order up and down the country itself ..

Kenny MacAskill : Scots Govt ‘great debt’ to legal profession ensured SLCC was taken over by the Law Society & vested legal interest

Do better Kenny ? We Scots deserve better on Justice, I’m sure …

You can read some of my earlier articles on the formation & appointments process of the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission here :

Scottish Legal Complaints Commission – protecting the public or protecting the legal profession ?

Call for MacAskill appointments ‘sleaze investigation’ as revelations show Legal Complaints Commission member was subject of Police inquiry

Law Society staff secretly migrating into ‘independent’ complaints commission will ensure continuing problems of regulating Scottish lawyers

Here is the register of Members interests from the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission .. see if you can spot anyone who hasn’t had dealings with lawyers or been part of the legal profession’s self regulatory set up over the years .. you will be very hard pressed to do so, and it is that difficulty which gives rise to the fact the SLCC is not the independent complaints commission which Scots were promised …!

Scottish Legal Complaint Commission

Members Register of Interests (link opens as a .pdf document)

SLCC members interests Page 1SLCC members interests Page 2

Jane Irvine :

• Currently Scottish Legal Services Ombudsman.

• Professional contact with solicitors’ firms Burness, Leslie Deans & Co and Allan McDougal.

• Professional contact with advocates Derek O’Carrol and John Campbell QC.

Douglas Watson :

• Former lay member of a Law Society of Scotland Committee dealing with Access to Legal Information. The role was unpaid.

• A cousin, Bruce Minto, is a partner in Dickson Minto, Solicitors.

• Formerly a Chief Superintendent with Lothian and Borders Police.

Linda Pollock :

• Executive Nursing Director (1989 -2006).

• Interim Board Nurse Director (2002-2003).

• Chief Nursing Officer’s Professional Advisor on nurse prescribing (2005-6).

• Past External Examiner with Robert Gordon’s University and Queen Margaret University.

• Research Honorary Fellow in the Social Science Faculty of Edinburgh University.

• Formerly, a part time nurse member of the Mental Welfare Commission (1997-2005).

• Currently, working as a Primary Care Consultant, undertaking research work commissioned by the Queen’s Nursing Institute in Scotland.

• Registrant member of the Nursing and Midwifery Council Appointments Board.

• Member of the Royal College of Nursing.

• Has accepted hospitality from Gillespie MacAndrew.

George L Irving CBE :

• Director of Social Work North Ayrshire Council 1999-2000.

• Board Member of Ayrshire Council on Alcohol.

• Ex-President of the Association of Directors of Social Work ( Scotland ).

• Chair of NHS Ayrshire and Arran from 2001-2006.

• Led the National Support Team, Management of Offenders 2005-2007.

• Visiting Professor to Glasgow Caledonian University School of Health and Social Care.

• Fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine.

• Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.

• Member of the Rotary Club of Alloway.

Ian Gordon OBE, QPM, LL.B (Hons) :

• Retired Deputy Chief Constable of Tayside Police.

• Associate Professor in Policing for Charles Sturt University (Australia).

• Formerly Chair of the Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland (ACPOS) Professional Standards Business Area.

• Vice-Chair of ACPOS General Policing Business Area.

• Director, Quaere Ltd

Margaret Scanlan :

• Consultant, Russells Gibson McCaffrey, Solicitors.

• Member of the Law Society of Scotland and holder of current practising certificate.

• Husband is a senior partner Russells Gibson McCaffrey.

• Husband is a member of the Law Society of Scotland and holder of current practising certificate.

• Past Chair of the Family Law Association.

• Former member of the Scottish Legal Aid Board.

David Smith :

• Member of the Law Society of Scotland and holder of current practising certificate.

• Former member/partner of Shepherd and Wedderburn LLP, Solicitors. Retired on 30/04/08.

• Wife is a Senator of the College of Justice and a non practising member of the Faculty of Advocates.

David Chaplin :

• Former member of Anderson Fyfe LLP, Solicitors. Retired on 30/04/08.

• Member of the Law Society of Scotland and holder of current practising certificate.

• Director and shareholder in Baliol Properties Limited.

Alan Paterson :

•Professor of Law and Director of the Centre for Professional Legal Studies at Strathclyde University.

• Research adviser to the Scottish Legal Aid Board.

• Lay member of the Judicial Appointments Board.

• Co-opted member of the Council of the Law Society of Scotland.

• Member of the Law Society of Scotland.

• Professional contact with Guild & Guild, Solicitors

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