First Minister Alex Salmond opens Qatar Office of law firm who won DEBT RECOVERY & PROPERTY contracts from £20 Million Scottish Govt spending spree on lawyers

01 Nov

Scotland’s First Minister opens Qatar Office of law firm McGrigors, who won share in £20m Scottish Government spending spree on legal profession (pic: Scottish Govt). A PRESS RELEASE from the Scottish Government issued late last week reported Scotland’s First Minister, Alex Salmond opened a new office of the well known Scottish law firm McGrigors in Doha, Qatar. However what the press release from the Scottish Government failed to mention is that McGrigors recently won a share of contracts with the Scottish Government in a TWENTY MILLION POUND PLUS legal project by Mr Salmond’s Scottish Government to rapidly enlarge its already burgeoning 225 plus lawyer strong legal department to provide legal services outsourced by the Scottish Government’s Legal Directorate (SLGD).

Among a long list of law firms who were also revealed to have taken part in hospitality to the Scottish Government’s legal directorate officials, McGrigors won contracts from the Scottish Government for DEBT RECOVERY and PROPERTY.

However, while the Scottish Government are apparently happy to send the First Minister on missions to open offices of the same law firms which won Scottish Government contracts, curiously, in response to Freedom of Information requests, the same Scottish Government claimed it is too expensive to release full details of exactly what work & duties these contracts involve, along with copies of the full tenders submitted by all the law firms involved including McGrigors.

Scots law firm opens new Qatar HQ

The First Minister Alex Salmond today officially opened a new business base for the Scottish law firm McGrigors in the Qatari capital, Doha. On the first full day of his five-day visit to Qatar and the UAE, Mr Salmond said : “By establishing a new base in this part of the Middle East, McGrigors are recognising this is an exciting time for business in this region. From its headquarters in the impressive Tornado Tower in the centre of Doha’s financial district, it will play a leading part in supporting the energy, infrastructure and professional and financial services which are at the centre of the vision for this nation. Law firms, like all businesses, have had to grapple with the challenging environment following the credit crunch and the ensuing recession. The opening of this office by McGrigors is a demonstration of their commitment to the long-term future of growing business in the region.”

James Elwen, a Partner and Head of McGrigors Qatar office, said that he is excited about the chance to encourage greater commercial links between Scotland and Qatar. He said : “We are delighted to be welcoming Mr Salmond to our new Doha office. This is a fantastic opportunity to discuss how Scottish and Qatari businesses can work together for the mutual benefit of both countries. There is a huge amount of knowledge experience to talk about. Both countries have a proud tradition of excellence in the energy sector and I am certain that we can learn from each other in this and many other respects.”

The First Minister is visiting the region to develop business and trade links. During the visit, the First Minister will also be taking part in high-level talks hosted by McGrigors and Scottish Development International to discuss Scotland’s experiences of transitioning from a hydrocarbon-based economy to a knowledge-based society. The discussion will invite views on how Scotland’s experiences in embracing the green economy can be applied to Qatar and the wider region. Members of the Doha business community will be invited to discuss the advantages of sharing of skills, expertise and research between the two nations.

McGrigors was granted a licence to establish a branch office in Doha, Qatar, by the Qatar Financial Centre Authority earlier this year. The firm already carries out a significant amount of work in the region on energy matters, and derived a significant percentage of its turnover in 2009-10 from the Middle East region yet no mention was made of their recent successes in winning work from the Scottish Government itself.

Diary of Injustice earlier reported on how many of the law firms including McGrigors won the Scottish Government contracts here : HOSPITALITY WINS : Law firms who won £20 Million legal contract wined, dined & lobbied Scottish Government’s Legal Directorate for three years

Scottish GovernmentScottish Government was wined, dined & lobbied by law firms, lawyer regulators, lawyer lobby groups & universities. A HOST OF LAW FIRMS who secretly wined, dined & in some cases lobbied the Scottish Government over the past three years on areas of law & justice where in some cases, the legal profession’s interests are known to conflict with those of consumers, won valuable contracts in the latest recession busting taxpayer funded TWENTY MILLION POUND legal project by the current Scottish Government to rapidly enlarge its already burgeoning 225 plus lawyer strong legal department to include even more Scottish law firms who are to provide legal services outsourced by the Scottish Government’s Legal Directorate (SLGD).

The details revealed in a Freedom of Information response by the Scottish Government show a host of law firms, regulators, lawyer lobby groups & even universities have offered so many dinners to officials from the Justice Directorate, one Government insider jokingly said it should be named the Justice Dining Directorate.

Hospitality Scottish Govt Legal DirectorateHospitality wins : Law firms who wine & dine Scottish Govt officials win stake in 4 year £20 Million contract for outsourced legal advice. Among a long list of hospitality & entertainment given to Scottish Government officials, many of the winners of the £20 Million contracts appear : 07/04/2008 Lunch Pinsent Masons, 18/04/2008 Lunch Dundas & Wilson, 26/06/2008 Meal Scottish Public Law Group, 29/05/2008 Lunch Dundas & Wilson, 20/08/2008 Meal and Edinburgh Festival Show Shepherd & Wedderburn, (No record held of date) Symposium and Dinner of the In House-Lawyers Group of the Law Society of Scotland Dundas & Wilson, 10/11/2008 invitation to In House Lawyers Dinner Burness (did not win a contract), Meal Glasgow University, 08/10/2009 Meal after Scottish Public Law Group Event, 13/11/2009 Invitation to WS Dinner LBC Wise Counsel, 3/11/2009 WS Society Dinner (invited as guest of Morton Fraser, Solicitors), 20/11/2009 Law Society of Scotland In House Lawyers Pinsent Masons, 20/11/2009 Dinner at In House Lawyers Group of Law Society of Scotland McGrigors, 15/01/2010 Meal provided by Glasgow University Law School Advisory Panel, 22/01/2010 Lunch Edinburgh University Law School, 25/02/2010 Meal after Scottish Public Law Group event Faculty of Advocates, 26/03/2010 15 lunch provided by Glasgow University Graduate Law School, 26/03/2010 Meal provided by Glasgow University Law School in connection with GLSS teaching to GU Diploma in Legal Practice students, 21/04/2010 Invitation Scotland PLC Dinner – Glasgow Hilton Hotel Law Society of Scotland, 17/08/2010 Attendance at Fringe show plus meal Shepherd & Wedderburn Solicitors, 27/10/2010 Dundas & Wilson Invitation to Chairman’s Dinner, 11/03/2011 The Law Society of Scotland Dinner, 16/11/2010 Meal at Edinburgh University after Edinburgh Law School event “Scotland & Independence” 15/03/2011 Dundas & Wilson Invitation -Leadership Lunch.

Scrutiny of the information reveals several law firms who wined & dined the Scottish Government over the course of the last three years, also managed to win tenders to provide the Scottish Government with additional legal services via the new framework agreement across five legal subject areas, complementing the work of the Scottish Government Legal Directorate (SGLD), which also manages the outsourcing of legal work. There is of course, absolutely no suggestion whatsoever the wining, dining or even any lobbying, helped win the law firms any contracts from the latest multi million pound subsidy offered by the Scottish Government to Scotland’s legal profession. It is merely, coincidence…

The full list of those law firms who won the tenders to provide extra legal advice to the Scottish Government are :

Contract, commercial and corporate – Dundas & Wilson CS; DLA Piper Scotland; Morton Fraser; MacRoberts; Pinsent Masons

Debt recovery: Harper Macleod; Maclay Murray & Spens; McGrigors; MacRoberts; Morton Fraser

Litigation, inquiries and employment: Anderson Strathern; Brodies; DLA Piper Scotland; Ledingham Chalmers; Morton Fraser

Major projects: Biggart Baillie; Dundas & Wilson CS; DLA Piper Scotland; MacRoberts; Pinsent Masons Property: Harper Macleod; DLA Piper Scotland; Ledingham Chalmers; McGrigors; Morton Fraser

The budget for this latest legal venture by the SNP Scottish Government to expand the numbers of lawyers working for the Scottish Government comes in at a whopping cost of an additional TWENTY MILLION POUNDS to taxpayers, bringing in a convenient taxpayer funded subsidy to some of Scotland’s hard pressed for profits law firms in the current recession. The Scottish Government’s tender for the latest intake of law firms at vast taxpayer’s expense can be viewed online here : CONTRACT AWARD NOTICE £20 Million for a panel of law firms for four years although many of the web links contained within the tender which link back to the Scottish Government’s website go to non-existent pages.

The new, if costly agreement will also be used through the Office of the Solicitor to the Advocate General, to source advice on Scots law for UK Government departments, agencies and NDPBs. Bodies within the Scottish Administration which obtain legal advice from Scottish Government Legal Directorate include : Accountant in bankruptcy, HM inspectorate of Education, General Register Office for Scotland, Historic Scotland, National Archives of Scotland, Registers of Scotland, The Rent Officer, Scottish Prison Service, Scottish Public Pensions Agency, Social Work Inspection Agency, Student Awards Agency for Scotland, Transport Scotland.

The Scottish Government added in their FOI response they did not keep a hospitality register for the Government Legal Services For Scotland (GLSS), possibly because there is so much hospitality & work going on between the GLSS, law firms & the Law Society of Scotland, it would be an embarrassment to publish it.

Diary of Injustice revealed in an earlier article Scottish Government spending £8.1 million on 225 lawyers salaries as more Scots miss out on legal representation, access to justice although it now appears two hundred & twenty five lawyers are not enough of a legal army to cover legal advice to Ministers, the Scottish Parliament and other departments including well known over budget quangos.


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