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The £80K job no-one wants : Lawyers lobby seek FIFTH time unlucky Chief Executive for Scottish Legal Complaints Commission role

24 Feb

Fifth Chief Executive sought for lawyer complaints quango mess. CONTINUITY appears to be a bad word at the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission (SLCC), who are now faced with conducting a recruitment process to find a FIFTH replacement for the role of SLCC Chief Executive, after losing its FOURTH CEO, Rosemary Agnew to the post of Scottish Information Commissioner. The job of SLCC Chief Executive, which no one seems to want, or can stand for more than a year, attracts a salary of around EIGHTY THOUSAND POUNDS A YEAR plus expenses, hospitality, and other perks from the law complaints quango which has so far cost clients of solicitors and taxpayers a stunning FOURTEEN MILLION POUNDS plus since 2008 yet has apparently not seen one single crooked lawyer prosecuted or struck off as a result of SLCC investigations into consumer complaints against the legal profession.

Continuing the lack of continuation in the role of SLCC Chief Executive, Mrs Agnew has occupied the SLCC’s Chief Executive job for a little more than a year after taking on the ill fated position from the SLCC’s first Chief Executive, Eileen Masterman, who resigned on ill health grounds, coincidentally also after being able to stand little more than a year in the job based at the Stamp Office in Edinburgh.

Reports of difficulties during Ms Masterman’s time as Chief Executive of the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission saw a string of controversial decisions involving the Law Society of Scotland’s Master Insurance Policy, secret meetings with insurers Royal Sun Alliance & Marsh, who were convicted of illegal activities in the United States.

John SwinneyCabinet Finance Chief John Swinney revealed he felt Ms Masterman had mislead him over accounts of meetings. It later emerged the Scottish Government’s Finance Chief, John Swinney personally intervened on behalf of a constituent over the murky goings on at the SLCC and accused Ms Masterman of being less than honest in correspondence. It is thought this spat between Masterman and Mr Swinney eventually led to the first Chief Executive’s demise over ‘ill health’. Diary of Injustice reported more on Ms Masterman’s resignation in an earlier article here : SLCC’s Eileen Masterman resigns, questions remain on attempt to mislead Cabinet Finance Chief John Swinney over secret meetings with insurers Marsh

While Ms Masterman may have resigned on ill health grounds, she was quick to engage lawyers to negotiate a large figure payoff from the SLCC, a payoff which was personally signed off by Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill and has never been disclosed to either the public or legal profession who fund the SLCC. The saga was reported by Scottish Law Reporter in an earlier article HUSH & MONEY : Former SLCC law complaints Chief Executive Eileen Masterman received secret Scottish Government approved payoff in deal with lawyers

Prior to Eileen Masterman’s appointment as CEO in 2008, Richard Smith, who was appointed by the Scottish Government as the interim’ Chief Executive in the formation year of the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission, resigned in early 2008 after only a few months in the job. Mr Smith, a a consultant in the Scottish government’s justice directorate, was officially reported to have stood down to focus on other projects. However legal insiders have since informed Diary of Injustice the resignation was as a result of views expressed that the SLCC was not going to live up to expectations promised by the Scottish Parliament.

Mr Smith was the replaced by John Murphy, another Scottish Government consultant who took over the role until Eileen Masterman was eventually appointed as Chief Executive later in 2008. As reported by Diary of Injustice, Ms Masterman resigned over ill health grounds, even though questions remain over her actions while in the role, and Mrs Agnew, the latest Chief Executive has ditched her post to be the new Scottish Information Commissioner

Jane Irvine, the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission’s Chair issued the following statement seeking a new recruit for the post of Chief Executive : On behalf of The Scottish Legal Complaints Commission (SLCC) I want to thank you for your interest in becoming our new Chief Executive. As an organisation we have been operational since 1 October 2008 with our main functions as follows:

  • Handling all complaints about members of the Law Society of Scotland and the Faculty of Advocates
  • Overseeing the Law Society of Scotland and Faculty of Advocates conduct and insurance arrangements
  • Dealing with complaints about cases that have been through conduct systems
The establishment of the SLCC represented a change in the way complaints against the legal profession were handled by introducing a novel form of funding for a public body in Scotland. We focus on the early resolution of disputes and encourage improvement whilst remaining independent, accessible and impartial.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank our departing Chief Executive, Rosemary Agnew, who has established a core team which is working well with established governance and financial polices, allowing operational matters to run smoothly. From this sound platform we are searching for a CEO who will lead us into the next phase of evolution for SLCC.

We are looking for a leader who can inspire the operational team as well as influence change. Naturally, our new CEO should continue to drive operational efficiency upwards internally as well as influencing externally to help improve service standards within the legal profession. We are looking for someone with the appropriate level of gravitas to work in partnership with key stakeholders and develop the way the SLCC evolves over the next 5 years.

The Chief Executive will be responsible for enhancing operational efficiency by reducing the time we take to deal with cases and the costs, ensuring that we are 100% user focussed. We already have a LEAN review underway and this will form a bridge into this new phase. A new CEO will also have to start to use the evidence we hold about practise trends and complaint handling to encourage higher service standards within the Scottish legal professions.

As well as the typical leadership qualities, the SLCC requires a CEO who is familiar with using evidence gathered to ensure policy within the professional bodies matches the best in regulatory practice. The successful candidate will need to be capable of negotiating with a very broad range of stakeholders from small interest groups to the Scottish Parliament. Naturally, you will have the credibility to influence and persuade as well as the capability to resolve complicated arguments, often formulated by emotive parties and / or historic practices. In return the CEO will work with an excellent small team and enjoy the support of an active Board while fronting an intellectually stimulating role meeting the demands of both the public and private sectors.

Those interested in filling the shoes of Eileen Masterman, or Rosemary Agnew can find send their up to date CV and covering letter/supporting statement to Munro Consulting who are handing the recruitment : Amy Dalgleish by e-mail to amy.dalgleish@munroconsulting.com or by post to Munro Consulting Ltd, Monteith House, 11 George Square, Glasgow, G2 1DY quoting reference G640.

  • Job Description
  • Person Specification
  • Application’s Close – Monday 12th March 2012
  • Longlist interviews – Thursday 5th April 2012
  • Meeting to select shortlist candidates – Wednesday 11th April 2012
  • Shortlist interviews – Monday 16th April 2012
It should be noted that while the SLCC, Law Society of Scotland & Faculty of Advocates are keen to stress it is their member solicitors & advocates who stump up the £2.8 MILLION a year to pay for the SLCC’s budget, expenses claims & operating costs, the cold fact is that clients & consumers are being made to pay the complaints levies, via large hikes in legal fees or spurious additions of large sums to client’s legal bills for non existent or “forgotten work”. Taxpayers have also had a significant input into the SLCC, which has received around TWO MILLION POUNDS of taxpayers money since 2008 in the guise of “start up costs” despite the huge public sector cuts being forced through by Governments in London & Edinburgh. More on this year’s SLCC budget & complaints levy can be read here : Lawyers told to pay £338 for continuing ‘old pals act regulation’ as Scottish Legal Complaints Commission calls for 60% complaints levy rise

Some cases recently brought to the attention of Diary of Injustice where clients have been or are being pursued for unexplained or non existent legal work, have seen figures of tens of thousands of pounds demanded from clients for fees which law firms had supposedly “forgot to charge for”. Any consumer in a fee dispute with their solicitor where such a situation has arisen would be well advised to publicise their plight by contacting Diary of Injustice via scottishlawreporters@gmail.com

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