The Scottish Legal Complaints Commission has been condemned by members of its own staff as now being “little more than a front organisation for the Law Society” as revelations continue to emerge from within, that the commission would rather spend millions of pounds of public money and funds from the legal profession on itself while doing little of the work of investigating complaints against crooked lawyers which the consumer campaigns & legislation that created it intended the commission to do.
SLCC Chief Exec Eileen Masterman earns £70,000 p.a. While staggering salaries of up to £1,500 per week have been dished out to senior SLCC staff, and expenses of £300 plus, per day, ‘handed out like smarties’ to board members, consumers have not seen any improvement in handling complaints against crooked lawyers or improvements in standards of legal services.
SLCC Budget : The true costs of crooked lawyers to Scotland involves huge salaries, perks, and little action to help consumers
You can read more about the SLCC budget in a previous report I wrote here: Commission budget ‘protects lawyers not consumers’ as taxpayers £2 million fails to be repaid despite economic meltdown
Too many perks at lawyers quango ? A source within the SLCC admitted in an interview, they were “totally disillusioned” with the way things were going and warned of severe failures at the Commission which continues to dish out huge amounts of public cash on salaries, perks and other benefits to members while many complaints about crooked lawyers made by the public to the commission have so far been refused, on the staggering decision by its highly paid board that no cases which include any legal work instructed before 1st October 2008 will be investigated by its staff.
An SLCC insider said: “I don’t believe the way the Commission is handling matters is what was planned under the previous Scottish Executive. The commission as it currently stands is nothing but a farce and there is a culture of fear among former Ombudsman staff that those who came onboard from the Law Society have taken over the organisation and are running it for their former masters”.
The staff member went on : “The commission is about as organised as a herd of sheep and no one basically wants to upset the Law Society who have been very threatening over how the commission should proceed to do its work. Its like working under a dictatorship”.
Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill – out to lunch on SLCC failures ? I further asked the commission insider whether any help had been sought or was forthcoming from the Scottish Government to curtail the apparent influence of the Law Society on the SLCC, the response was blunt :
“Members of the public have no idea what is going on behind closed doors.The SLCC is being led like a dog on a lead and it now looks like the Government have given up on us doing anything positive for clients as the Law Society is calling all the shots”.
“The SNP and MacAskill have made a total mess of the commission and there is a culture of fear that if anyone speaks out, they will face intimidation and the sack for rocking the boat”.
Staggeringly, the commission insider also made allegations the recent decision by the SLCC to lower the levies paid by the legal profession, came about as a result of bullying from lawyers & advocates, who had “threatened to make unspecified problems for the commission if their requirements of a reduced annual levy was not met”.
SLCC Chairman, Jane Irvine. After the alleged threats, the SLCC’s Chairman, Jane Irvine, surprised many by announcing that levies would indeed be reduced, allegedly due to surpluses of millions of pounds of cash at the organisation, but despite the huge surpluses, Jane Irvine and the rest of the commission board members, many of whom are ex Police Chiefs and lawyers, felt it would be better to lower fees to solicitors than repay the public purse the millions of pounds of Scottish public money which has already been sunk into the commission without much to show for it.
You can read more about the annual £400 levies currently paid by solicitors to fund the SLCC, dubbed the “Penman levy” by some lawyers, here : Dean of faculty hints at rising fraud claims against solicitors as ‘Penman Levy’ bites hard into Scots law firms
A client who has spent three years trying to get the Law Society of Scotland to do something on his complaint against a well known Glasgow solicitor who himself is facing multiple complaints from other clients, expressed condemnation of the new commission. He said “This commission or quango or whatever it wants to call itself is just the Law Society under a different name. Maybe they should call it Law Society 2 for all the good it does”.
He went on : “I have spent several weeks trying to get answers out of this SLCC and no one wants to help me, because the lawyer who has ripped me off is a well known crook and I think this commission lot want to let the Law Society let him off the hook so everyone who he has ruined cant get any compensation”.
The Commission could not be contacted today for a response to the allegations from consumers & its own staff.
Since it appears the SLCC isn’t doing the job it was intended to do, perhaps we need a new Commission ? because the MacAskill version is definitely not working …