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Legal Complaints Commission discredited after revelations Law Society lied during ‘stage managed’ appointments process

16 Oct

SLCC squareThe little credibility left of the ‘independent’ Scottish Legal Complaints Commission has been thrown into question once more after revelations the appointments process was corrupted by the Law Society of Scotland.

It has been revealed from documents obtained from sources, that Philip Yelland, the Law Society’s Director of Regulation effectively provided the Justice Department with false information relating to regulatory disclosures on the solicitor applicants, which the Justice Department then amazingly failed to verify.

Exclusive : leaked for the first time – a deceptive regulatory disclosure from the Law Society of Scotland

Law Society of Scotland to Scottish Government re SLCC applicants Page 1Law Society of Scotland to Scottish Government re SLCC applicants Page 2

Philip YellandPhilip Yelland only gave limited information on the lawyer applicants : “I should point out to you that in terms of upheld complaints the only issues which it seems to be would be relevant would be if there were findings of professional misconduct against any of the individuals. Service complaints run against firms rather than individuals.”

However, the Law Society’s own website contradicts Mr Yelland’s claim to the Government, having details of how to proceed service complaints against individual solicitors and even listing some of the limited sanctions which can be applied against solicitors found guilty of inadequate Professional Service (I.P.S).

How the Law Society handles Service complaints :

Service issues : such as poor communication, avoidable delay, failing to follow instructions and failing to advise about rising fees/outlays.

Service Complaints Before 1 October : For a transitional period until 2010, the Society will continue to deal with service complaints relating to business instructed before 1 October 2008. The Commission refers these complaints to the Society. Sanctions include the correction of mistakes, a full or partial refund or waiver of fees and payment of compensation.

Mr Yelland carefully limited his disclosure only to the individuals, as service and conduct complaints are rife at most legal firms in Scotland including those legal firms which the lawyer applicants to the SLCC worked : “I am assuming that you are not wishing any information about that given that it is individuals who have made the applications to the Commission.”

A source within the Scottish Government’s Justice Department amazingly claimed there was no will within the Department after the change in Government administration last May to implement all the promises of independent regulation and ensure the SLCC was impartial enough.

He said: “Everyone here at Justice just wanted to get the thing going or hand the whole mess over to the Law Society who were constantly hammering away for control of it”. He went onto claim there was little doubt among the Justice Department’s staff, the current Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill hated the idea of independent regulation of solicitors.

Staggeringly the Justice Secretary failed to check the false information provided by the Law Society of Scotland. However,Mr MacAskill is an ‘experienced’ solicitor and must have realised what was provided by Mr Yelland was completely untrue – raising the possibility there has been a cover up to prevent the appointments information leaking to the public domain.

The Law Society’s Director of Regulation, Mr Yelland, who signed off on the regulatory disclosure, also did not disclose the actual levels of complaints against the solicitors, as again many are well aware the Law Society either does not issue findings in complaints or carefully puts them to bed so there is no record.

A legal insider today said “it is impossible these solicitors have never had a complaint made against them … there isn’t a lawyer in Scotland who hasn’t had client complaints and there isn’t a firm with a clean complaints record”

A constituent of John Swinney today said he felt it important the true picture of these SLCC board members and their legal firms involvement in complaints and claims against lawyers was fully disclosed to the public :

He said : “Philip Yelland’s letter to the Scottish Government is a pack of lies. In Law Society investigations into my own complaints against my legal agents, the Society determined and found the solicitor in question guilty of I.P.S (Inadequate Professional Service) and this has occurred on more than one occasion I can tell you”

Jane Irvine, the SLCC’s Chairman and its board members could not be contacted for comment on the revelations, little wonder as it is now quite apparent there was a deliberate attempt by the Law Society to mislead the Government and the public over the solicitor applicants to the Commission.

I have covered problems with the SLCC’s appointments process before, which you can read more about here : Call for MacAskill appointments ‘sleaze investigation’ as revelations show Legal Complaints Commission member was subject of Police inquiry

Here follows the full text of the Law Society’s Regulation Director Mr Yelland’s disclosure, now revealed as defective and questionable in content …

Miss A. McArthur
Access to Justice Division
Civil & International Justice Directorate
The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
Regent Road
Edinburgh EH1 3DG

Dear Angela

Appointments to the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission

I write to acknowledge receipt of your letter of 11 September addressed to my colleague Michael Clancy. Please note that communications in relation to the Commission should be addressed to me for the future.

I attach below the information which you are seeking about the six candidates highlighted in the letter.

I should point out to you that in terms of upheld complaints the only issues which it seems to be would be relevant would be if there were findings of professional misconduct against any of the individuals. Service complaints run against firms rather than individuals. I am assuming that you are not washing any information about that given that it is individuals who have made the applications to the Commission.

In terns of the information which you are seeking I would advise as follows :-

1 (Censored)

2. David Hay Smith

Mr Smith was enrolled as a solicitor on 14 October 1971 and is a Partner with Messrs Shepherd & Wedderburn, LLP in Edinburgh. There are no findings of professional misconduct against Mr Smith and there is no period in the intervening thirty six years where he has not been enrolled.

3. (Censored)

4. Margaret Scanlan

Mrs Scanlan has been enrolled as a solicitor since 5 September 1972 and there are no periods in the intervening thirty five years where she has not been enrolled as a solicitor. There are no findings of professional misconduct against her.

5. (Censored)

6. David Chaplin

Mr Chaplin was enrolled as a solicitor on 30 October 1972 and is a Partner with Messrs Anderson Fyfe LLP in Glasgow. There are no findings of professional misconduct against Mr Chaplin and there are no gaps in his enrolment in the last thirty five years.

I trust this is the information you are seeking. If you need more information, please let me know.

Yours sincerely

Philip J Yelland,
Director of Regulation,
Client Relations Office
DD 0131 478 8163
E: cro@lawscot.org.uk

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One response to “Legal Complaints Commission discredited after revelations Law Society lied during ‘stage managed’ appointments process

  1. aweehintohelp

    October 16, 2008 at 5:52 pm

    Well done Peter! Keep on exposing this misconduct/deceit by the grubby insiders!

    Mr. Phillip Yelland rears his ugly personality again – he of the old Client Relations department of the Law Society of Scotland – the one who knows precisely how many complaints were directed against each firm – as he oversaw and directed the misrepresentation of “client complaints” to the complaints handling bodies of the Law Society of Scotland under the old “reporting” procedures.
    Remember those halcyon days where the Law Society Reporter would be persuaded to rewrite the reports to completely mis-state and re-interpret a client’s complaint (to such an extent that the reported “complaint” was unrecognisable to the complainant) and omit any of the ‘difficult’ issues.

    In which respect – the definition of a ‘difficult’ issue might be said to have been:- any allegation by means of an assertion of facts made by the complainant, which allegation combined chronological references to documentary evidence provided by the complainant, and thereby was such as might prove “a substantial and serious fault” or show “an absence of reasonable care in the circumstances or ordinary culpa” amounting to a complaint which would have to be upheld as “a serious departure from normal and usual practice of general practitioners” and thereby show that the solicitor’s service/conduct complained of, was such as “can reasonably be described as inadequate professional service” or a “breach of professional Code of Conduct” and therefore “causa of loss to a client”, requiring compensation to be awarded (even if in those days it could only be up to a maximum of some £1,000).

    Yelland, we must recollect, was the right hand man and chief associate/henchman of the departed Chief Executive Mr. Douglas Mill – he of the Big Lie to Justice 2 Committee regarding the MacKenzie memo – on which infamous memo (or one related thereto), if my memory serves me correctly, Mr. Yelland’s name also appears in the loop of shame and unjust denial – chatting away with RSA. Quiz – Has that admittedly proper “claim” been paid yet?

    Hint o’ help for today:-

    Please note: in respect of the above, the Law Society of Scotland allege that they advise complainants that, if they intend to pursue a claim for negligence, the complaint relating to the adequacy of service cannot be entertained until the negligence claim has been determined.

    If that is your desire – don’t delay – you’ve only got three years to bring a damages action for “injury” (i.e. emotional distress) and only five years to bring to bring a damages action for “patrimonial loss” (financial losses) (Prescription and Limitation (Scotland) Act 1973). If you very strongly believe that a solicitor has caused you loss or damages, you should read up on the differences between “negligence” and “delict”. You must consider, very carefully within the context of those two legal principles whether the solicitor owed you a duty of care. If he did not have a contract (verbal or written) with you personally, then most probably you will struggle to show proximity and culpa. Liability to third parties is strictly limited in Scots Law. You must obtain a copy of the following cases (can be obtained via the National Library of Scotland) and read them thoroughly in order to grasp some of the basic principles (and thereafter it only gets more complicated).
    Donoghue v. Stevenson 1932 SC (HL) 31 at 44, 1932 SLT 317 at 323; and
    Hunter v. Hanley 1955 SC 200, 1955 SLT 213.

    If you employ a solicitor, request in writing by Recorded Delivery Post (keeping a copy secure in your records) that the solicitor provide you with a detailed schedule for the work he proposes to undertake (these should include drafting of a writ, lodging and service of writ), together with a cost breakdown for each stage of that work, and a written undertaking on the part of the solicitor that he will provide you with a copy of both the draft and completed writ, any answers received in respect thereof, any actual Motions or Oppositions to motions when they are intimated, and then monitor him closely to see that he is keeping to the schedule.
    Note: if your solicitor is not keeping you informed (not responding to your telephone enquiries or written enquiries) of progress in any “cause” (court case) that he is supposed to be pursuing per your instruction to him to do so (or – as he has advised you that he was going to be doing – and with which advice/future procedure you have concurred with and agreed to), then you can of course contact the relevant Court and ask if your case exists and at what stage it is at. You are the “interested party” in whose name the action in court is being conducted. This comes with a warning that the solicitor might take offence and withdraw from acting. Only you can be the judge of whether that result will be upsetting for you.

     

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