Unprotected: Scots consumers have no protection from dodgy solicitors who regulate themselves. UNTIL the dual role of representing both clients and solicitors is removed from the Law Society of Scotland, and clients of Scotland’s closed shop legal profession are given the same or even greater standards of consumer protection & independent regulation as currently operate in England & Wales, there is little incentive for Scottish solicitors to behave anything other than badly, as BBC Scotland found recently in their investigation of Lawyers Behaving Badly.
More often than not, the fact is, those of us who require to use legal services in one way or another via a lawyer, or those of us who require access to the courts in Scotland are taken on the same, well trodden, fee-generating-years-long ride by solicitors & law firms who have no reason to offer high quality, low cost access to justice in a legal system which is closed shop, monopolistic, and poorly regulated.
Just as fee paying clients are routinely ripped off, so is the taxpayer by way of a £150 million pound legal aid budget which seems to exist as little more than a public subsidy to prop up dodgy law firms & lawyers who would serve the community better from a position behind bars, sitting in a High Street office raking in tens of thousands of pounds a year from the public purse.
This is of course, not news to anyone who has been let down by a solicitor, and it is certainly not news to members of the public who have experienced the almost inhuman mix of regulatory bodies in Scotland, the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission (SLCC), the Law Society of Scotland and the Scottish Solicitors Discipline Tribunal, who currently hold court over all complaints against Scottish solicitors.
The SLCC often claims to be “independent”. It is not. Diary of Injustice reported on the secret vested interests at the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission in an earlier article here: A SPECIAL RELATIONSHIP : Investigation reveals Scotland’s ‘independent’ legal regulator is mired in family, business & personal links to legal profession & Law Society
Neither has the SLCC cleaned up standards in the legal profession, nor has it named and shamed any crooked lawyers, nor has it protected clients any better than the Law Society of Scotland, who are equally as fixated as the SLCC on attending to, and apparently representing the interests of its membership the legal profession and much the same, found BBC Scotland in their recent Lawyers Behaving Badly investigation of Scotland’s out of control legal profession.
As the Lawyers Behaving Badly programme has now finished its term on the BBC’s iPlayer and clips of what was broadcast have been removed from the internet by the BBC, apparently after alleged protests from the legal profession and the Law Society of Scotland, those with an interest in how the Scottish legal profession regulates itself in Scotland still have access to articles on this site.
How Scots solicitors regulators dealt with dodgy legal aid solicitor:
A solicitor who ruined pensioner’s legal affairs was given slap on the wrist by law complaints regulator SLCC. KILMARNOCK solicitor Niels S Lockhart, who was accused by the Scottish Legal Aid Board (SLAB) of making £670K worth of dodgy claims for legal aid work and who then went on to ruin the legal affairs of a pensioner and other clients was allowed to continue working as a lawyer after the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission (SLCC), the ‘independent’ regulator of solicitors decided his firm NS Lockhart Solicitors need only pay a meagre fine of ONE HUNDRED POUNDS to a victim who had complained about the legal nightmare she had been put through.
Solicitor Niels Lockhart was the subject of lengthy investigations by the Scottish Legal Aid Board which were uncovered by Diary of Injustice & the Sunday Mail newspaper and reported earlier here : One law for lawyers : Secret Report reveals Legal Aid Board, Law Society & Legal Defence Union ‘cosy relationship’ in Lockhart case
Diary of Injustice published the full SLAB S31 complaint report to the Law Society of Scotland obtained after a Freedom of Information disclosure, here : SCOTTISH LEGAL AID BOARD S31 COMPLAINT REPORT TO THE LAW SOCIETY OF SCOTLAND : NIELS S LOCKHART
Diary of Injustice also published the investigation carried out by the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission into Niels S Lockhart. The report can be viewed online here : SLCC Investigation of complaint against Niels S Lockhart of NS Lockhart Solicitors, Kilmarnock.
How Lord Advocate & Crown Office dealt with Legal Aid fraudsters who all happened to be solicitors:
Crown Office also refused to prosecute dodgy legal aid lawyers. An exclusive report in the Sunday Mail newspaper also raised questions about the Crown Office lack of will to prosecute lawyers who were accused of legal aid fraud, revealing that FOURTEEN lawyers accused of multi-million pound legal aid fraud escaped justice as Scotland’s Crown Office fail to prosecute all cases in 5 years.
Legal aid bosses reported 14 lawyers to prosecutors for allegedly fiddling a fortune in taxpayers’ cash – but not a single one has been put in the dock. Eleven suspected fraud cases were marked no proceedings, one lawyer was declared insane, one died and the other is still being considered. Crown officials did not identify any of the lawyers involved or reveal the scale of their alleged fraud. The revelations were made by Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service director of operations Scott Pattison in response to a freedom of information request.
Diary of Injustice has reported on the BBC’s investigation into self regulation of the Scottish legal profession in previous articles here: Lawyers Behaving Badly – a window into the world of lawyers regulating themselves