Scottish Legal Complaints Commission has began research into compensation claims against rogue solicitors. Clients of Scottish solicitors who have tried to pursue claims for poor work, fraud, embezzlement, theft and other failures of legal service by their legal representatives are being asked to take part in an investigation into how such claims are handled by the Law Society of Scotland’s client compensation schemes, known as Master Policy and Guarantee Fund.
Researchers from Manchester University, Professor Frank Stephens and Dr Angela Melville have been engaged by the Scottish Legal Services Commission to conduct research into aims and function of the Law Society of Scotland’s Master Policy and Guarantee Fund. Professor Stephens and Dr Melville are particularly interested in people’s experiences of bringing a negligence claim against a solicitor or advocate or making a claim against the Guarantee Fund, as well as views on the operation of the policies more generally
The SLCC has been forced to investigate the alarming failures of the Scots legal profession to pay out damages claims made by potentially thousands of clients against an ever increasing tide of rogue lawyers, due to the fact it has an official monitoring role, which some within the Commission are apparently reluctant to pursue to the fullest extent possible for fear of damaging revelations to the Law Society.
Some lawyers such as John G O’Donnell have 21 negligence claims made against them and still continue practising. Most solicitors who face client claims to the Master Policy & Guarantee Fund, have in many cases financially ruined their clients but still remained in practice due to closed shop investigations by the Law Society of Scotland which have protected thousands of solicitors from client clains & complaints, many of a serious nature involving missing funds, thefts from wills & deceased family members estates, costly case failures, and overcharging on legal fees, which due to the financial downturn, has recently seen many legal firms issue ‘fake’ bills to clients alleging money owed on non existent work.
Dr Angela Melville, speaking to “Diary of Injustice” said of her ongoing research into the Master Policy & Guarantee Fund claims, “We want to know about their personal experiences of making a claim against either the Master Policy or the Guarantee Fund, and their views more generally on the aims and operation of the Master Policy and the Guarantee Fund”.
Anyone wishing to take part in the survey can contact Dr Melville at Angela.L.Melville@manchester.ac.uk or if anyone wishes to be interviewed on their experiences, they can telephone Dr Angela Melville on 0161 275 3580, or leave a message on 0161 306 1262.
Dr Melville suggested some questions for those who wish to contact her with their experiences of the claims process to both the Master Policy & Guarantee Fund :
1. When did you initiate the claim, and was it against the Master Policy or the Guarantee Fund ?
2. What happened that raised a claim ?
3. Did you represent yourself, or did you obtain (or try to obtain) legal representation ?
4. Did you run into any problems trying to bring the claim ?
5. What was the claim’s outcome ?
6. Do you think that you have been dealt with fairly ?
7. How satisfied are you with both the process of resolving the claim and the claim outcome ?
8. What do you feel should be the aim of the Master Policy /Guarantee Fund ?
9. Do you feel that the Master Policy /Guarantee Fund is achieving this aim?
10. Do you feel that there is anything about the Master Policy /Guarantee Fund that needs to be addressed?
Which? are to be contacted over claims against crooked lawyers research. Dr Melville added the research team would be contacting Consumer Focus Scotland and Which?, who have recently been instrumental through their ‘supercomplaint’ to the Office of Fair Trading, in pursuing reforms of the Scots legal profession’s monopolistic business model which has for years, effectively placed a stranglehold on public access to justice & legal services in Scotland.
Which? and Consumer Focus Scotland also recently supported the McKenzie Friend petition at the Scottish Parliament, calling for the 39 year exclusion of McKenzie Friends from the Scottish Courts to be lifted, allowing party litigants to call on a service engaging a legal adviser to assist them during their representation of their own legal affairs in court.
Law Society of Scotland’s client compensation schemes condemned as corrupt. Both the Master Policy and Guarantee Fund compensation schemes run by the Law Society of Scotland have been regularly criticised from all quarters, including Government Ministers, as being prejudiced in their operation against clients, self serving, self protective of dangerous solicitors who ramp up significant but secret claims records, slow to pay out, deliberately difficult in their claims handling philosophy and of course, corrupt.
The Master Policy, exists to handle client claims of negligence against Scottish solicitors, with the Law Society regularly arguing it plays no part in claims processing to the fund, rather cases are handled by the insurers, Royal Sun Alliance, and the infamously corrupt Marsh, who were themselves caught up & pled guilty to corruption charges in the US several years ago.
Clients have had such difficulty in making negligence claims to the Master Policy against their solicitors negligence, officials from Royal Sun Alliance were forced to admit in staggering revelations to the Justice 2 Committee during their LPLA Bill investigations that less than 1% of claims to the Master Policy reached court.
Claims to the Law Society of Scotland’s Guarantee Fund, which supposedly exists to compensate clients for a solicitor’s theft of their funds, have faired little better, as I reported earlier here : Law Society’s ‘Guarantee Fund’ for clients of crooked lawyers revealed as multi million pound masterpiece of claims dodging corruption.
John Swinney revealed Law Society regularly interfered in claims against crooked lawyers. However, it was left to the now Cabinet Secretary for Finance, John Swinney MSP, to tackle Douglas Mill, the ex Chief Executive of the Law Society over startling revelations from Mill’s own memos that the Law Society of Scotland were actively involved on a regular basis in delaying and effectively killing off client’s negligence claims against crooked lawyers.
Douglas Mill was forced out of Law Society top job by John Swinney’s revelations of a claims fixing policy. The video of this confrontation between Mr Swinney and Douglas Mill eventually led to Mill’s resignation as Law Society Chief in early 2008, his position becoming untenable over the raft of revelations of corruption at both the Law Society itself and in the claims handling procedures of the Master Policy and its insurers, RSA, and brokers Marsh UK.
John Swinney’s confrontation with Law Society Chief Douglas Mill led to revelations of a policy of protection for crooked lawyers against client claims & complaints.
You can read an earlier report I wrote on the outcome of the confrontation between John Swinney & Douglas Mill here : Law Society boss Mill lied to Swinney, Parliament as secret memos reveal policy of intervention & obstruction on claims, complaints. and of Mr Mill’s eventual downfall here : Breaking News : Law Society Chief Executive Douglas Mill who lied to Parliament, pursued ‘personal vendetta’ against critics – to resign
So, my advice to all readers is if you have tried to make a claim against your solicitor for a failure of service which impacted on you financially, please take the time to take part in this survey, as the more respondents give their views, the larger and clearer the picture of how the claims process against the legal profession actually works.