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CONFLICTING INTERESTS: Solicitors’ husbands, wives, sons, daughters, cousins, friends, & employers revealed in register of interests of ‘independent’ Scottish Legal Complaints Commission

26 Oct

‘Independent’ regulator of solicitors reveals vested interests. SOLICITORS, solicitors’ families, solicitors’ colleagues, solicitors’ friends, and possibly even solicitors pets – are the best placed solicitors to investigate rogue solicitors – according to the register of interests of the ‘independent’ regulator of solicitors – Scottish Legal Complaints Commission (SLCC).

The latest register of interests released by the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission reveals many of it’s staff are, lawyers, former lawyers, friends of lawyers, family of lawyers, former business partners, former employees of the Law Society of Scotland and members of Law Society committees, and former members of other unidentified legal bodies with a vested interest.

Impartiality is not a strong point of self regulation.

And when it comes to self regulation of the legal profession, impartiality is, almost non existent.

In response to a Freedom of Information request, the SLCC released the following information on how connected its staff are to the legal profession:

Six members of staff are currently on the roll of solicitors with the Law Society of Scotland, of which one member of staff holds a practising certificate.

Seventeen members of staff have previously held positions in law firms in Scotland.

Seven members of staff have previously held positions with the Law Society of Scotland.

Ten members of staff have previously held positions with legal related bodies in Scotland.

The SLCC also released their equivalent of staff recusals on investigations – a database of measures required, or taken to mitigate conflicts of interest.

For consumers expecting a fair hearing by the SLCC of a complaint about a solicitor, the fact SLCC staff are having to recuse time & again in complaints investigations connected to law firms and the Law Society of Scotland makes grim reading..

A selection of examples of conflict of interest from the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission – Register of Recusals 2013-2015

Friend and former colleague – Could not investigate a complaint against any of these individuals

Acquaintance and former professional connection – Could not investigate a complaint against any of these individuals

Close family friend – Will advise if come across any files relating to these individuals

Personal friend – Will avoid getting involved with any complaints concerning the named people/organisations should these arise.

Personal friend and connection – Will avoid getting involved with any complaints concerning the named people/organisations should these arise

University and subsequent music activities – Will avoid getting involved with any complaints concerning the named people/organisations should these arise.

Previous employers – Will avoid getting involved with any complaints/mediations concerning the organisation should these arise

Worked for []  from August 2Qu3 until January 2004 – Should not deal with any complaint against

Involved in an action where were the instructed solicitors – Not to deal with investigation of complaints relating to this firm

Currently a client of the firm – Line manager will not allocate any complaints against the firm to

daughter – will not deal directly with cases or collection of levies etc

Son in-law – will not deal directly with cases or collection of levies etc

Cousin – will not deal directly with cases or collection of levies etc

Cousin-in-law – will not deal directly with cases or collection of levies etc

Niece – Not to deal with investigation of complaints relating to this firm

Wife – avoid any involvement of any kind in outstanding complaint and no discussion of complaint with colleagues

Wife’s employers – avoid any involvement of any kind and no discussion of any arising complaints with colleagues

Personal friend and solicitor – Will not deal with any complaint associated to any of the above

Niece’s husband – Will not deal with any complaint associated to any of the above

Cousin – Will not deal with any complaint associated to any of the above

Husband – Complaints involving the parties will not be allocated to her.

Husband’s stables – Complaints involving the parties will not be allocated to her.

Acted for opponent in litigation – Not to deal with investigation of complaints relating to this firm

Senior partners are former colleagues – Not to deal with investigation of complaints relating to this firm

Personal friendship with partners and formerly advised on employment matters – Not to deal with investigation of complaints relating to this firm

Client Relations partner was on Client Relations Committee I ran at Law Society – Will not investigate complaints instigated by or made against firms outlined.

[] was a party to a mediation I managed at Edinburgh Sheriff Court – I have advised both and the practitioner that I will not be the mediator for this complaint.

Personal solicitor and LSS Convenor – No complaints to be allocated to

Personal solicitor and LSS Committee Member – No complaints to be allocated to

Family member is senior partner – Discussed with and no files from the above firms will be allocated to me. Agreed any files from these firms allocated to me in error will be passed back to for re-allocation. Agreed to ensure that if carrying out holiday/sickness cover – not to deal with complaints files against these firms and let know so they can be re-allocated

Traineeship with firm, still in contact, use as personal solicitors sometimes – Will not investigate complaints instigated by or made against firms outlined.

Worked for this firm – Will not investigate complaints instigated by or made against firms outlined.

Best friend works for this small firm – Will not investigate complaints instigated by or made against firms outlined.

Was the convenor – of my Committee for 2 years as LSS – Will not investigate complaints instigated by or made against firms outlined.

Was on my –  Committee at LSS for 2 years and Convenor when required – Will not investigate complaints instigated by or made against firms outlined.

[] is the tutor of my Open University course – Agreed with line manager that 1 will not deal with any complaints about which may be received by the SLCC

I  have instructed the solicitor on a  couple of occasions to carry out work on my behalf – Could not investigate a complaint against any of these individuals

Still expecting a fair hearing at the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission ?

Well, now you have read how recusals work at the SLCC, those of you who are in the unenviable position of making a complaint to the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission now know to ask if investigators or staff dealing with your case have any conflicts of interest.

You can then ask for the details of those conflicts – in writing –  just to keep things even, and … you know … ‘independent’.

And, don’t forget, earlier this year, the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission appointed a new Chief Executive – a former employee of eleven years with the Law Society of Scotland.

Today, the SLCC still claim to be independent. Just, not very independent.

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