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Vested interests take priority as Calman Implementation Group ‘contaminated’ by Law Society of Scotland’s ‘reform blocker’ appointment

11 Aug

Michael ClancyMichael Clancy, the Law Society of Scotland’s Director of Law Reform. MICHAEL CLANCY, the Law Society of Scotland’s Director of ‘Law Reform’, famed for frequenting both the Scottish & Westminster Parliaments & liaising with politicians on issues the Law Society of Scotland wants to influence, or block, has been invited to sit on the Calman Implementation Group, which has been formed to look at implementing proposals contained in the Calman Commission review of devolution, which produced its final report (pdf) on the ‘experience’ of Scottish devolution in June 2009.

The Calman Implementation Group, co-chaired by Scottish Secretary Michael Moore and Exchequer Secretary to the UK Treasury, David Gauke, met on Monday, 26 July in Edinburgh, to discuss how the proposals would be taken forward. The BBC News report of that meeting can be viewed here : Calman plans ’empower’ Holyrood . You can read more about what the Calman Commission actually recommended, in terms of its review of Scottish devolution, here : Digesting the Calman report

While Mr Clancy’s membership of the Calman Implementation Group was welcomed by the Law Society of Scotland, many in Scots political life know Mr Clancy as being more of a ‘reform blocker’ than a reform promoter, particularly when it comes to bringing the legal profession itself to heel in legislative changes affecting the way it regulates Scotland’s 10,000 plus solicitors. Several MSPs who, over the years have asked pointed questions on subjects relating to the justice system, and in particular, regulation of the legal profession have found themselves ‘called in’ by Mr Clancy to explain the Law Society’s point of view, which coincidentally led to those same MSPs closing off their inquiries into the Law Society of Scotland & the legal profession’s inability to represent client’s best interests …

Petition PE1033 Law Society closure released by Scottish ParliamentMichael Clancy ordered reforms to the SLCC blocked at Holyrood. Among Mr Clancy’s noted interventions against consumer orientated reforms was his action against attempts to reform the ‘independent’ Scottish Legal Complaints Commission, with a Holyrood petition to allow it to re-investigate cases of historical complaints where the Law Society of Scotland had covered up for ‘crooked lawyers’ theft of client funds, in some cases numbering in the millions of pounds. Mr Clancy on that occasion ordered suggested to Holyrood’s Petitions Committee it should cease its study into any ideas of widening the scope of the SLCC’s remit, which you can read more about in a previous report, here : Truth & reconciliation fails as MacAskill follows Law Society orders to Parliament on attempt to heal public confidence in legal profession

After Mr Clancy and the Scottish Parliament’s Petitions Committee killed off Petition PE1033 in September 2007, the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission voted to refuse investigation of historical complaints.

To ensure any further attempts to present the ideas of Petition PE1033 to the Scottish Parliament were blocked, a legislative amendment to the LPLA Act, the Legal Services Act 2007 (Transitional, Savings and Consequential Provisions) (Scotland) Order 2008 including a section on the SLCC’s investigation of historical complaints, was presented by the Scottish Government to the Justice Committee in September 2008, quietly supported by the SLCC & the Law Society of Scotland and passed by the Scottish Parliament, which ensured no one could ever ask the SLCC again to investigate historical complaints against ‘crooked lawyers’ which the Law Society had deliberately mishandled.

The Law Society of Scotland’s self-congratulatory media release media release on Mr Clancy’s ‘invitation’ to join the Calman Implementation Group, states : “The Law Society of Scotland is delighted that their Director of Law Reform, Michael Clancy, has been invited to sit on the Calman Implementation Group, which will look at implementing proposals contained in the Calman Commission review of devolution.”

James Aitken, member of the Society’s tax law and constitutional law sub committees, deputising for Mr Clancy at today’s meeting said: “The meeting was very positive and I was particularly pleased to see that a large number of the proposals put forward by the Society have already been taken on board and will be implemented. Smaller technical groups will now be created, and we look forward to a number of our members being involved in more detailed discussions on areas that will be devolved.”

“The Society has provided detailed written and oral evidence to the Calman Commission over the last few years, and was pleased to hear commitment from the Government to introducing the proposals in a Scotland Bill this autumn, with full implementation by 2015. The Society was in favour of the Calman review and had substantive comments on a number of areas including the Scotland Act 1998, Schedule 5 changes, especially in insolvency (where this should be reserved) and charity law, tax law provisions and changes to Scottish Parliament procedures.”

The Law Society’s written evidence, submitted in October 2008 can be found HERE, all of which you can be rest assured, benefits the legal profession over the rest of us.

If the Calman Commission is supposed to be so reforming, and good for Scotland, then why invite those to its ranks whose mission it seems, is to destroy reforms for the good of ordinary Scots, and protect the vested interests of big business & the professions …

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