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Tag Archives: crooked lawyers

The Scheme : Law Society’s new regulation committee pitches old joke of ‘lay membership’ as more ‘slaps on the wrist’ for crooked lawyers expected

Law Society of ScotlandOld Joke returns : Law Society indulges in spin on lay membership as yet another new beginning for regulation.  THE latest attempt by the Law Society of Scotland to deal with the issue of regulation of Scotland’s notoriously corrupt legal services market as yet another regulation committee was revealed yesterday with the announcement of yet more lay members and another regulatory committee to comply with the laughably lax regulatory requirements of the Scottish Government’s Legal Services (Scotland) Act 2010, the half hearted & much interfered with attempt to comply with recommendations by the Office of Fair Trading to open up Scotland’s closed shop solicitor dominated legal services market.

The ‘duties’ of this new regulatory committee, with yet more lay members, those oh-so-honourable lay members who allow the Law Society to justify its continued stranglehold over the regulation & lack of protection of Scots consumers who are duped, fleeced, ripped-off and ruined by their legal representatives on a daily basis, are contained in Section 133 of the Legal Services (Scotland) Act 2010, which reads like a criminal’s recipe for money complaints laundering & regulation dodging.

However, the Law Society’s not-so-shiny-or-new regulatory committee has its roots mired in controversy, double dealing & threats against the legislation which created it, all culminating in a significant climb-down by the Scottish Government on its proposals to specify the number of lay members on the Law Society’s ruling Council as I reported  here : Scottish Government back down on lay appointments to Law Society Council as lawyers interests threaten to break pro-consumer legal services bill

Fergus EwingEmbarrassing forced retreat by Scottish Government Minister after Law Society threats over council & committee make-up. Fergus Ewing, the Scottish Government’s now former Minister for Communities & Safety appeared at a Law Society ‘road show’ last year to announce to angry solicitors their beloved ‘Council of the Law Society of Scotland’ would remain a lawyer-only club, making the following announcement :“The power of Scottish Ministers to make regulations specifying the proportion of lay members and the criteria for selection was intended as a fall-back, only to be used in the unlikely event that there would be a need to resolve any disagreements regarding the proportion of lay members.”

Mr Ewing continued : “Following representations from the Law Society of Scotland, in which it re-affirmed its commitment to lay appointments, I no longer consider it necessary for Scottish Ministers to have this fall-back power. Therefore, I intend to bring forward an amendment at Stage 2 of the Legal Services (Scotland) Bill to delete section 92(4), (5) and (6) of the Bill.”

A solicitor attending the Law Society road show branded Mr Ewing’s appearance & speech as “comical”, saying the Minister appeared at the show like a schoolboy awaiting corporal punishment. A video of Mr Ewing’s speech briefly published by the Law Society was quickly taken down as some indicated it looked too embarrassing for Mr Ewing, who has since been replaced in his role by Roseanna Cunningham.

The Law Society of Scotland issued a Press Release, promoting its latest committee abortion creation as “a significant step for the Society” yet lay members have populate much of the Law Society of Scotland’s committee structure, and as the records show, have simply acted as a rubber stamp for the Society’s wishes & determined effort to undermine any legal reforms which intend to place consumer protection over the vested interests of the legal profession and self regulation.

The Law Society today claimed : “The new committee will work independently from the Society’s Council on regulatory matters, with all of the Society’s current regulatory sub-committees now reporting to it. “

Cameron Ritchie, president of the Law Society of Scotland, said: “The calibre of those applying to join the regulatory committee was extremely high and we were struck by the range and depth of talent of applicants and the enthusiasm they displayed for the work of the Society.

Mr Ritchie continued : “The appointment of the committee is a significant step for the Society as we move towards new types of legal services businesses becoming a reality. The Society is continuing to develop a regulatory framework for Licensed Legal Services Providers which will be as rigorous as that for solicitors, and the committee will have an important role to play as we move forwards.”

The committee members, who include non-solicitors from a wide range of backgrounds including education, the medical sector, surveying and accountancy, will choose a lay convener from amongst the five non-solicitor members. Solicitors Alison Atack, Frank MacAuley, Jane MacEachran and Alistair Morris will be joined by the five new lay members. A further solicitor appointment will also be made. The lay members of the regulatory committee are: chartered surveyor James Allan, head teacher Carole Ford, Professor Kay Hampton, chartered accountant Alan Plumtree and Elaine Tait, chief executive of Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh.

The Law Society of Scotland refused to release any photographs of its latest lay Committee Members, in keeping with it’s tradition of keeping Scots consumers in the dark over who exactly decides on complaints against ‘crooked lawyers’. Clearly however this is wrong. Consumers, clients of solicitors and the public have a right to know exactly who it is who sits on these Law Society of Scotland committees.

These people, along with those who sit on the board of the anti-client Scottish Legal Complaints Commission are making anonymous, unaccountable decisions which affect the lives of anyone using legal services. Those individuals or groups who make these decisions on the quality of legal services which affect the lives of ordinary people and solicitors alike, should be identifiable by a current photograph if their positions are in any way connected with consumer protection or regulation.

As a journalist and a law reform campaigner, I always wonder about the motives & make up of such people who clamour to join an organisation such as the Law Society of Scotland which is already known to have threatened the Scottish Government & Scottish Parliament with legal action if it did not get its way, has interfered with litigants legal aid applications, undermined consumer protection & client rights, personally targeted critics & litigants pursuing ‘crooked lawyers’ through the courts, has whispered in the ears of judges to influence verdicts in civil cases, has regularly provided false information to newspapers, has been linked to & covered up the deaths of its members clients and has within its ranks, officials who have used connections with Police forces to intimidate clients who dared complain against solicitors.

Indeed, what motives & what kind of person would clamour to join such an organisation and such a scheme aimed at ensuring solicitors sleep soundly at night while clients rot in ruin ?

An official with one of Scotland’s consumer organisations said today : “The latest Law Society attempt to control regulation through yet another committee will not change the circumstances of consumers who face historically prejudiced self regulation by the legal profession”.

A client turned campaigner whose bitter experiences with the Law Society became part of the SLCC’s 2009 report on the Master Policy said  : “The committee lay membership at the Law Society of Scotland has proved time and again it is a sham. It does nothing to enhance consumer protection or give clients a fair hearing against solicitors who have the Legal Defence Union standing by their side while the complainant remains unrepresented.”

The backgrounds of those the Law Society of Scotland consider to be “lay people” :

James Allan (East Lothian – Surveyor) – Chartered Surveyor. Honorary Secretary of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors from 2004 to 2010.  Former Chairman of the Institution’s Nominations Committee Independent Adjudicator and Mediator in many construction disputes.

Carole Ford (Glasgow – Education) – Head Teacher, Kilmarnock Academy.  Current Council Member for the General Teaching Council Scotland as well as current Convener of Disciplinary Sub-Committee of the Council Scotland.  Former President of Schools Leaders Scotland.  Board member of Learning and Teaching Scotland.

Professor Kay Hampton (Glasgow – Higher Education) – Emeritus Professor in Community and Race Relations at Glasgow Caledonian University. Commissioner to the Scottish Human Rights Commission.  Member of Children’s Panel in Glasgow.  Former Commissioner of the Equalities and Human Rights Commission.  Former Chair, Deputy Chair and Commissioner, Scotland and UK for the Commission for Racial Equality.  Former Chair and UK Board Member for the Community Fund, Lottery Fund.

Alan Plumtree (Dunblane – Accountancy) – Chartered Accountant.  Current Partner in the firm of French Duncan LLP.  Former Senior Audit Partner and member of that firm’s Management Committee.  Extensive involvement with the Committees of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland including the Practitioner Certification Committee, Regulation and Compliance Board, Professional Standards Liaison Committee and Examination Board.

Elaine Tait (Kinross – Medical) – Chief Executive of Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh (RCPE).  Quality Assurance Partner of the General Medical Council (GMC).  Member of the Royal College’s Lay Advisory Committee.  Former Reporter for the Society for the Client Relations Committee as well as a member of the Client Relations Committee as well as a member of a Client Relations Committee.  Also member of the Society’s Professional Conduct Committee as well as the Shadow Regulatory Committee.

 

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Law Society consultation changes ‘a grab for elitist dictatorship’, leaving public in need of independent consumer body to protect client’s interests

Law Society of ScotlandLaw Society’s latest constitution consultation is viewed by solicitors & clients as attempt to consolidate power at the top. SCOTS CONSUMERS OF LEGAL SERVICES are again effectively being thrown to the sharks in the latest consultation exercise organised by the Law Society of Scotland, billed as an attempt to reform the solicitors governing body’s constitution, but more darkly revealed to be little more than the latest attempt to shore up the Law Society’s powerful position as self regulator of Scotland’s 10,000 plus solicitors, along with its ‘dual role’, mandated in the Solicitors (Scotland) Act 1980 of representing the client’s best interests – the latter duty of which the Law Society is infamous for failing to carry out in any shape or form.

The Law Society launched the consultation earlier in June, asking its members for their views on a revised constitution and its standing orders. The Law Society claimed its constitution “is being updated as part of a review and modernisation of the Society’s procedures to enable the Society to better represent and support its members”. However, and perhaps more dangerous from the consumers point of view is that the changes proposed by the Law Society, will, in its own words, “allow the Society to adapt to changing conditions in the future, without having to resort to further legislative change” thus escaping any legislative scrutiny in the elected Scottish Parliament of changes which many expect will be counter to the consumers best interests.

The Law Society dressed up its proposed changes to the constitution as “measures which will also ensure that the Society is well placed to become a regulator of those wishing to adopt alternative business structures as defined by the Legal Services (Scotland) Bill once passed”. Clearly the Law Society wishes to regulate just about every aspect of Scots legal life … much to the danger of fee paying clients, who, once the Legal Services (Scotland) Bill is passed, will continue to have as little protection against poor legal services in the future, as is currently, and historically been the case in Scotland.

The 4m Crooked Lawyer - Daily Record 1991Is your lawyer crooked ? Chances are the answer could be “Yes” but you’d never know it ! As far as the Law Society representing the client’s best interests, anyone who has been put in the position of being forced to make a complaint about their solicitor to the Law Society of Scotland, or the hapless Scottish Legal Complaints Commission will probably by now, realise the futility of their position, where from the outset, their complaint, no matter its seriousness, had been treated by the Law Society with disdain, ending in up in a grand paper chase, sometimes lasting years, where often the solicitor being complained against escaped any punishment for their crimes or actions against clients.

This great service, of protecting its member solicitors from thousands of client complaints each year, is what the Law Society regards as its duty under Section 1 of the Solicitors (Scotland) Act 1980 where the Law Society of Scotland is mandated to undertake the promotion of (a) The interests of the solicitors’ profession in Scotland ; and (b) The interests of the public in relation to that profession. Clearly as far as the Law Society of Scotland are concerned, the interests of the solicitors’ profession have long come before the interests of the public, a charge backed up by earlier articles I have written on the subject, one of which readers may be interested in, here : Toxic levels of complaints, poor standards of service & soaring fraud by solicitors makes Law Society of Scotland ‘World’s worst regulator’

REVEALED - Top Lawyer at the centre of 12 negligence claimsThe Law Society of Scotland did not represent the interests of ‘crooked lawyer’ John G’O’Donnell’s clients, considering Mr O’Donnell, and thousands like him are still working as solicitors. However, as the years have gone by, many consumers, consumer protection organisations, critics and even some sections of the legal profession have questioned & campaigned against the Law Society’s dual role of representing solicitors and clients, a dual role viewed by many as posing an inherent conflict of interest, where as countless media reports over the decades have documented, the interests of solicitors have always overshadowed any regards for client protection from the likes of the John O’Donnell’s of the legal world, of which there are a growing number.

The Law Society, seeing the flow of these reports, and our changing times where the word ‘regulation’ is now mostly viewed as another word for ‘cover up’ is simply trying to consolidate its grip on power with this latest ‘consultation’, ensuring it continues to be in charge of regulation and representing the clients ‘best interests’, because the Society and the profession well know, if it loses one role to the other, its grip over Scotland’s legal services market and the public’s access to justice is doomed.

However, the consultation has drawn some criticism from some parts of the legal profession itself, with the Glasgow Bar Association highlighting the conflict of interest in Section 1 of the Solicitors (Scotland) Act 1980 where the Law Society represents both clients & solicitors. It should be borne in mind however, the criticism from the Glasgow Bar Association is from the point of view of protecting its member solicitors, rather than making ‘consumer protection’ paramount … perhaps an obvious point of view, given the GBA is the bar association for law firms on Scotland’s west coast.

The response from the Glasgow Bar Association to the Law Society’s consultation states : “It is the view of the Glasgow Bar Association (the “GBA”) that there is an irreconcilable conflict contained within s.1 of the Solicitors (Scotland) Act 1980 (the “Act”). That section legislates that it shall be “the object” of the Law Society of Scotland, inter alia, to “promote” the “interests of the solicitors’ profession in Scotland” as well as “promoting the interests of the public in relation to that profession”. It is impossible for the promotion of both interests to be mutually consistent, beneficial or indeed legitimate.”

The response from the GBA continues : “In the view of the GBA, the LSS has for decades failed to recognize the inherent and obvious conflict that arises in representing the public and the profession. The dilemma at the heart of the conflict can be put simply: how can the LSS represent or advise a solicitor that, for example, is the subject of a misconduct complaint to the LSS from his/her client? The answer too is simple: the LSS does not, and will not, offer advice, guidance or representation to that solicitor, under explanation that it is investigating the solicitor’s alleged misconduct. Thus, the solicitor against whom perhaps serious, false and defamatory allegations have been made by a member of the public, will enjoy no “promotion” of his/her “interests” by the LSS in relation to that complaint; yet the “interests” of the member of the public making the complaint are “promoted” by the very investigation of that complaint itself. This conflict, in the view of the GBA, is irreconcilable.”

“The conflict is obvious and serves as a source of frustration to the profession. Solicitors, who currently pay over £1200 per year to the LSS (40% of which the LSS says is spent on “representation” of its members) cannot benefit from that representation in circumstances where their conduct is called into question, almost always on the basis of uncorroborated ex parte statements, by clients, former clients or members of the public. The individual solicitor is, in practice, left to his/her own devices. By contrast, the conflict which is embodied within s.1 of the Act, serves as a source of frustration to a public, rightly unconvinced that any such complaint can be fairly investigated, given that s.1 of the Act allows the very body to which the member of the public has complained, to “promote the interests of the solicitors’ profession in Scotland”.

The GBA went on to attack the Law Society’s proposals for its newly created ‘Board’, which allows a more “senatorial” role for Council, claiming the ‘Board’ distances ordinary solicitors further from the Law Society’s decision making process and branded it a result of the elite culture existing within the Law Society of Scotland.

The GBA said in their consultation response : “The establishment of this “Board” is, in the view of the GBA, typical of the “elite” culture existing within the LSS. The creation of the “Board” makes the LSS less accountable as a decision making body, inevitably increases costs for members by its creation, and is, ultimately, unaccountable in any direct sense to the LSS members. This elitism, and lack of any worthwhile accountability at the heart of the LSS, is manifested by the current refusal by the Council member for Hamilton, who is the Convener of the Legal Aid Committee, to address the hundreds of LSS members in Glasgow who practise criminal legal aid”

The GBA’s response to the consultation concluded : “The GBA believes that the “Proposals for Change” do not address in any way the conflict at the heart of the LSS highlighted herein. The GBA suggests that the proposed reform of the constitution will create an extra tier of unnecessary, costly administration, adding to the elitist development of the LSS. The reform proposals are proposals that the LSS hopes will dissuade those critics seeking a separation of the statutory “objects” of the LSS. Nothing more.”

More information on the Law Society of Scotland’s consultation can be found at the Law Society’s website here : Law Society of Scotland Consultation on Constitution along with detailed information on the ‘Proposals for Change’ at the following links :

Letter from Jamie Millar (pdf 34k) Background Information (pdf 37k) Draft constitution (pdf 119k) Draft Standing Orders (pdf 144k) Draft transitional provisions (pdf 73k)

jamie_millarLaw Society President Jamie Millar ‘will discuss’ proposals on consultation concerns. The consultation, now closed, was praised by the Law Society’s current President, Jamie Millar of the law firm Lindsays, who now own a Borders law firm which itself is infamous in the debate on regulation of the legal profession & the Law Society’s representation of client’s best interests. Mr Millar said in the Law Society’s Press release : “I am grateful to all those who have taken time to discuss with colleagues, faculties and organisations and respond, often in detail. The constitution changes have been planned since 2007. Recent events have brought the constitution into focus and feedback from the AGM in May was that change, particularly around voting procedures (including proxy votes), and bringing motions to the AGM was necessary.”

He continued : “Particular concerns about motions passed at Council and whether the changes should be held until the Legal Services (Scotland) Bill has completed stage 3 will be addressed and I am grateful to those members and organisations who raised these points. I also welcome the feedback given at meetings with some individuals and groups who took up the Society’s offer to discuss the proposals, possible improvements to the draft and concerns to be addressed. “

SLCC LAW SOCIETYLaw Society & SLCC are both unfit to regulate the Scottish legal profession, leaving consumers without any real protection against ‘crooked lawyers’. While the legal profession bickers with itself over changes which amount to little more than window dressing, clients of solicitors & consumers of Scots legal services can be assured no changes which may benefit clients over the interests of their solicitors will take place until the Law Society is stripped of its regulatory role over complaints, with the duties passed to a new fully independent regulator, one which should be far and above the anti-client Scottish Legal Complaints Commission, which is nothing more than a front company for the Law Society in protecting solicitor’s vested interests over consumers best interests.

 

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Three years, £7m & its own trail of victims : Anti-client Scottish Legal Complaints Commission still refer most complaints about lawyers to Law Society

slcc_logoScottish Legal Complaints Commission prefers sending complaints against solicitors back to Law Society. CLIENTS OF SCOTTISH SOLICITORS are less protected against ‘crooked lawyers’ now than they were before the ‘independent’ Scottish Legal Complaints Commission came into existence, say campaigners & consumer groups today as it emerged the bitter anti-client SLCC, which itself has now formed its own trail of victims, is still handing over complaints to the notoriously corrupt Law Society of Scotland in a policy which could alarmingly extend for yet another 10 years, depending on when legal business was first instructed by clients to their solicitors..

Philip YellandLaw Society Regulation Chief Philip Yelland still receives most complaints about crooked lawyers. Huge numbers of consumers with complaints against their solicitors which involve legal work or matters instructed to solicitors before 1st October 2008 are still being told by the SLCC they will pass their complaint back to the Law Society, which was so corrupt in its handling of complaints against lawyers, it sparked numerous legislative attempts to reform the legal profession’s system of self-regulation into what was hoped would be a cleaner model in the SLCC. However victims of rogue lawyers are being treated just as poorly by the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission as they were under the Law Society’s complaints handling regime, headed by its Director of Regulation, Philip Yelland who has reigned over consumer complaints against crooked lawyers for twenty years.

SLCC 12 July 2010 REDACTEDAfter receiving millions of pounds from taxpayers, the SLCC’s letter informs clients their complaint will be dealt with by the Law Society. A letter from the SLCC, sampled out of many recently sent out to unsuspecting clients, in this instance to a member of the public who has made complaints against Perth Law firm Kippen Campbell, states : “Although the SLCC can investigate most complaints about the service received from a Scottish solicitor or advocate, it cannot under the provision in the 2007 Act, investigate complaints relating to business instructed before 1st October 2008. Nor can it become involved in complaints about a solicitor’s or advocate’s conduct before 1st October 2008. These complaints must be referred back to the Law Society of Scotland or the Faculty of Advocates to consider.”

SLCC members expenses SLCC Board members voted against investigating complaints before October 2008, while making huge expenses claims. The letter is quite an effort from the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission – after receiving £2 million of public funds and well over £6 million from the legal profession, yet after several years of its Board members paying themselves an average of £135K expenses per annum (some with several paid jobs on other quangos), and its staff on salaries of up to £1350 per week, the SLCC can only manage to inform the majority of Scots their complaints against their lawyers cannot be investigated by the ‘independent’ law complaints quango as their legal work began in a time the SLCC want to avoid regulating, guaranteeing the SLCC is not forced in to compromising situations where it may have to investigate complaints deliberately mishandled by the Law Society of Scotland.

An official from one of Scotland’s consumer organisations was asked for his reaction to the SLCC’s policy of passing complaints back to the Law Society. He attacked the terms of the SLCC’s ‘avoid the complaint letter’, branding it ‘an excuse to do nothing’, and condemned it as being ‘very anti-consumer and laden with untruths’.

He said : “The SLCC’s policy to exclude all legal business instructed by consumers prior to 1st October 2008 is a betrayal of the intentions of the LPLA Act, which is widely known to have come into being after a long campaign to secure a more level playing field for consumers with regards to regulation of the legal profession.”

He continued : “Consumers who are currently going through the long process of litigation stemming from legal issues arising from before October 2008 may well find in 5 or 10 years time, if they are put in a situation where they require to make a complaint about how their legal representatives handled their long running case, their complaint will still be handed back to the Law Society. This I am sure was not the intention of the LPLA Act, nor was it a situation envisaged by the many campaigners & consumer groups who helped bring the Act into being.”

A client who has complained to the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission and received a similar letter said he felt betrayed by the SLCC. He said : “Now that I’ve been told my complaint is going to the Law Society I know there is no chance of getting a proper investigation.They will cover it up like they always do.”

In the ORIGINAL VERSION of the Legal Profession & Legal Aid (Scotland) Act 2007, the legislation which created the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission, laughably, to cure the ills of the Law Society of Scotland, there was no mention of the now infamous 1st October 2008 cut off for complaints relating to business instructed to a solicitor or advocate.

However, during 2008 when the SLCC and its Board Members were voting through its operational rules, one of the issues decided by its members was that the SLCC would not investigate complaints before 1st October 2008. I reported on this significant anti-consumer development during September 2008, here : Scottish Legal Complaints Commission that wont investigate complaints posts rules of no help to many victims of crooked lawyers

So, as you all see, the ‘independent’ regulator which was created by legislation to cure the prejudiced, anti-consumer practices of the Law Society of Scotland’s self regulation of complaints against solicitors, has itself become as anti-consumer & prejudiced as the organisation and the profession it was designed to clean up. The SLCC is nothing short of a failure in terms of raising the levels of consumer protection against poor legal services, and a very costly, bitter, anti-client failure at that.

 

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Glasgow lawyer who covered up husband’s £24K mortgage scam makes it to Scottish Legal Consumer Complaints register

Law Society of ScotlandThe Law Society of Scotland continues to allow dishonest lawyers to work, unknown to potential clients. GLASGOW SOLICITOR CATRIONA MACFARLANE, made famous earlier this year for covering up her mortgage broker husband’s theft of £24,000 of funds from clients she also represented, is the subject of this week’s feature on the new Scottish Legal Consumer Complaints website, well worth a read for Scots consumers of legal & financial services – especially in this case, mortgages, house purchases & sales.

Notably, even though Ms McFarlane was found guilty by the Scottish Solicitors Discipline Tribunal, censored, and fined the magnificent sum of £2,500, she is still working as a solicitor – a testament to the ‘ultimate in client protection’ offered by the Law Society of Scotland and hapless Scottish Legal Complaints Commission, ensuring once again that consumers are not safe while lawyers continue to regulate themselves.

Scottish Legal Consumer ComplaintsA community based register of those to avoid in the legal profession :

Solicitor Catriona MacFarlane Scottish Legal Consumer Complaints Alert

I have previously reported on the Catriona MacFarlane case here : Glasgow lawyer who covered up husband’s £24k client theft gets slap on the wrist by Law Society tribunal, continues working & here : Law Society ‘routinely fails to report crime’ as Crown Office admits it never received report on Glasgow lawyer theft cover-up investigation

Curiously, the Crown Office refused to prosecute Ms MacFarlane even though the matter was reported to the Lord Advocate herself, as I reported here : Crown Office brought in over mortgage broker’s £24k client theft after Law Society failed to report Glasgow lawyer who ‘covered up’ for husband

Perhaps Mortgage Fraud, especially when it involves lawyers, is not much of a crime to the Crown Office .. or could it be more to do with the Crown Office being rather reluctant to prosecute lawyers for any offence at all, as I reported here : Justice Secretary ‘hush hush’ on criminal records of lawyers as Crown Office claims its too costly to keep details on legal profession’s crooks

A fine example where the community must step in to protect & ensure all consumers are alerted to the dishonest elements of Scotland’s legal profession. Please visit Scottish Legal Consumer Complaints for more details on elements of Scotland’s legal profession you as consumers & existing or potential clients of solicitors may very well wish to avoid …

 

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Introducing Scottish Legal Consumer Complaints : A complaints register for solicitors clients & consumers of legal services in Scotland

Scottish Legal Consumer Complaints web blogPublish your complaint against your solicitor – help protect yourself, help protect all consumers of legal services in Scotland. Clients of solicitors & consumers of legal services in Scotland now have a chance to search for detailed complaints information on their lawyers & others in the legal services sector with the creation of the Scottish Legal Consumer Complaints web blog, a community based effort to publish free of charge, all complaints made against the legal profession, media reports on ‘crooked lawyers’ and client ratings of the legal services provided to them by Scots law firms.

SLCC LAW SOCIETYScottish Legal Complaints Commission & Law Society of Scotland have failed to protect consumers. Lets not kid ourselves, the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission is more anti-consumer than consumer friendly .. a litany of reports have proved that, as board members and its senior officials indulge in hate fuelled anti-client rants while of course, picking up huge expenses claims for allowing the Law Society of Scotland yet another free hand at protecting ‘crooked lawyers’, ensuring droves of unsuspecting consumers end up using lawyers who may be facing 20 or more complaints & financial claims from other clients whose legal affairs have invariably been damaged beyond repair.

Put it this way, would you want to use a solicitor from a law firm with over thirty partners which is currently facing 21 separate complaints investigations (5 of those involving embezzlement of client funds), 20 negligence claims, 9 claims against the Guarantee Fund & 2 criminal investigations ? You might be using such a solicitor right now and not even know it.

The Law Society of Scotland & Scottish Legal Complaints Commission do not publish complaints records against members of the Scottish legal profession so you have no way of knowing the true background of your solicitor, whom you will trust with the most important aspects of your life concerning the law …

It is now therefore time to skip the complaints confidentiality of the legal profession which protects rogue lawyers from public scrutiny, and publish all complaints information, so consumers can decide for themselves who best to represent their legal interests.

Do yourselves and everyone else a lot of good … get publishing your complaints against solicitors, and all those silly idiotic letters from the Law Society of Scotland & Scottish Legal Complaints Commission. Revealing just how repetitive and malfunctioning both these organisations are in print may help shine some much needed public scrutiny on Scotland’s legal regulators …

Have you made a complaint against your solicitor ? Do you want to help protect other consumers from falling victim to the same sharp practices ? Visit the Scottish Legal Consumer Complaints web blog for more information on how to get your complaint published :

Scottish Legal Consumer Complaints web blog

From the Scottish Legal Consumer Complaints web blog :

Scottish Consumers : Publish your complaint against your solicitor on Scottish Legal Consumer Complaints

If you wish your complaint against your solicitors published on this website, please send details of your complaint along with details of the solicitor & law firm involved, acknowledgements of receipt of your complaint from either the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission, the Law Society of Scotland or the Faculty of Advocates, and a letter authorising publication to us at : lawcomplaints@gmail.com

If you are a client and have experienced other kinds of poor treatment at the hands of solicitors or advocates, such as unjustified expensive fees, or perhaps your solicitor made a mountain out of a molehill on your case and strung it out for a couple of years, with an unsatisfactory end result, or you may have been involved in a will or executry dispute with a solicitor or law firm and wish to publish a ‘rating’ of how good or bad you were treated, please send further details along with supportive evidence for publication to us at : lawcomplaints@gmail.com

Clients who have registered complaints against their solicitors should indicate whether or not they wish their own names published. If clients do not wish their names published, they will be referred to as “the client” and any identifying information or location details from material provided to us for publication will be removed. The solicitor’s identity and the identity of their law firm will remain for all to see.

Publication of complaints information may benefit consumers by adding public scrutiny to the actions of members of the legal profession who are the subject of complaints by clients.

Scottish Legal Consumer Complaints is thankfully in no way affiliated to the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission, who carry no such register of complaints against solicitors nor will they disclose the regulatory records of solicitors to potential clients.

Scottish Legal Consumer Complaints is a not for profit group and publishes all information submitted to it free of charge.

 

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FOI Chief Dunion orders Scottish Legal Complaints Commission to release board member’s anti-client jibes, Master Policy study secrets

Kevin DunionScotland’s Freedom of Information Chief Kevin Dunion. SCOTLAND’s FOI COMMISSIONER Kevin Dunion has ordered the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission to release information relating to its research on the Law Society of Scotland’s notoriously corrupt Master Policy, the insurance protection scheme designed to protect the ever growing number of crooked lawyers in Scotland again claims for compensation to cover the millions of pounds of funds misappropriated from clients each year by solicitors in Scotland without recompense.

Frequent Flyers SLCCSLCC’s David Smith expressed anti-client jibes in emails around the anti-consumer law complaints quango. Among the papers ordered to be disclosed in a decision published late last week by Mr Dunion are emails containing anti-client jibes from one of the SLCC’s board members, David Smith who was personally appointed to the SLCC by Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill. Mr Smith, a lawyer who served much of his career at law firm Shepherd & Wedderburn, who themselves often act for the Master Policy in protection of questionable solicitors against negligence claims, referred to participants in the Master Policy survey & deceased clients who had committed suicide as a direct result of involvement with the Master Policy, as “Frequent flyers”, a term (among many unprintable) apparently widely used among SLCC Board members & staff against anyone who submits complaints against solicitors.

Margaret Scanlan - Called to the Bars - Sunday Mail  15 March 2009 emailEvidence from earlier FOI releases featured in newspapers points to SLCC’s anti client culture among board members & senior officials. The redacted, but readable emails from David Smith to SLCC staff including the SLCC’s Chief Executive Eileen Masterman , who resigned recently in mysterious circumstances after a 6 month absence from work, support evidence from earlier FOI releases which featured in the national media, there is a hate fuelled anti-client culture operating at the highest levels of the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission, which has seen other board members such as Glasgow divorce lawyer Margaret Scanlan who was revealed in emails to have rubbed victims of crooked lawyers as “complete chancers” while of course, having nothing to say about her legal colleagues conduct. In additional emails, other board members chastised consumer organisations, and sought to exclude them from the Master Policy investigation, no doubt for fear of what would be revealed …

My earlier article on the SLCC’s demands that Scotland’s FOI Commissioner shield David Smith’s anti-client jibes, which can be read here : Scottish Legal Complaints Commission demand judge’s husband’s insults against solicitors clients be shielded from FOI investigation

Master Policy Report Suicides revealedSLCC’s Master Policy report revealed client suicides, board members were more interested in attacking victims instead of helping them. Mr Dunion’s decision, commenting on the SLCC’s argument to withhold the already visible written attacks by its board member David Smith against participants of the Master Policy survey stated the SLCC had argued against disclosure of the information, including Mr Smith’s anti-client remarks, saying : “In citing section 30(b)(ii) of FOISA, the SLCC noted its concern that, if disclosed, the terminology used in this email exchange could be misinterpreted, and argued that effective working relationships with key stakeholders outwith the SLCC requires a certain amount of private space for discussions to take place.The SLCC went on to argue that not being able to discuss cases freely and openly in email for fear of being misinterpreted would affect the way it records information in the future, requiring change to its whole way of working and adding expense and delay which would substantially prejudice the free and frank exchange of views.”

Basically, the SLCC are arguing that it’s staff & board members just want to sit there and rip the living daylights out of consumers who fall victim to rogue lawyers while board members shower £135K a year on themselves in lavish expense claims and staff earn anything up to £1350 per week. It sounds reminiscent of the orgy of client hate which fuels the Law Society of Scotland … so its clear where the SLCC has learned its nasty habits from …

Mr Dunion rejected the SLCC’s arguments to keep secret its board member’s bitter attitude towards consumers, and ordered the release of the information relating to Mr Smith’s anti-client jibes, along with a further eight documents withheld by the SLCC relating to the Master Policy research carried out last year which I reported on here : ‘Ground-breaking’ investigation into Law Society’s Master Policy insurance reveals realities of corrupt claims process against crooked lawyers and also here : Suicides, illness, broken families and ruined clients reveal true cost of Law Society’s Master Policy which ‘allows solicitors to sleep at night’

Mr Dunion’s decision in full can be read here : Decision 089/2010 Mr Peter Cherbi and the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission : Master Policy and Guarantee Fund Research

A separate issue which was raised in the investigation – that of the SLCC’s poor quality redactions which led to the identification of individuals names, locations & contact information was dealt with ‘as a separate issue’ by Mr Dunion, and apparently no action was taken by Mr Dunion against the SLCC in this respect, even though individual’s home addresses had been disclosed by the SLCC’s failure to properly redact several documents released under FOI.

A legal insider speaking this morning on condition of anonymity dubbed the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission as ‘nothing more than a den of bitterness against those who complain about their solicitors’.

He said : “Clients who are forced to complain to the SLCC about their solicitors should be in no doubt they are hated at all levels of the organisation.”

He continued : “It is common knowledge there are those at the SLCC who constantly slur, insult and tell jokes about clients who have written into the organisation after being put in the most difficult circumstances by their solicitor’s failings. I’m sure these poor clients would not be impressed if they knew what was being said about them behind their backs”

An official from one of Scotland’s consumer organisations which is now receiving letters complaining against the SLCC itself, alleging the quango is covering up for crooked lawyers, said this afternoon : “It is clear from the public feedback we are receiving, the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission is not the solution to resolving the historical problems of bias in the regulation of Scotland’s legal profession which now date back many years.”

slcc suicides1Advice ? Don’t trust a regulator that hates consumers. Based on my previous articles reporting on news & consumer difficulties with the SLCC, I also would not advise any member of the public to trust the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission to investigate any complaint against a solicitor. Those who complain may well get the results of an investigation but you can bet there are so many get-out-of-jail clauses for the solicitor concerned, it wont be worth the paper its printed on. The Scottish Legal Complaints Commission is, as so many now say, nothing more than a front organisation for the Law Society of Scotland and crooked lawyers.

Only fully independent regulation of legal services in Scotland will bring any protection for consumers and I urge anyone who can, to campaign for independent regulation of the legal profession – its in everyone’s interests to do so.

As for Mr Smith and the others at the SLCC who apparently hate clients who dare complain about their solicitors, well, why don’t you all resign and make way for people who the public can trust, instead of people who just sit there insulting everyone and keep taking the expenses & salaries cheques for doing so … what is that called again ?

 

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Scottish Legal Complaints Commission recruiting at £42K as scandal ridden quango ‘hardly lifts a finger’ on cases against ‘crooked lawyers’

slccScottish Legal Complaints Commission. The SCOTTISH LEGAL COMPLAINTS COMMISSION, which we have all come to know as one of the most useless quangos in existence, originally created as a result of the Legal Profession & Legal Aid Act (Scotland) 2007 to clean up regulation of Scotland’s legal services industry, has been forced to go on a recruitment drive offering posts at the hapless, anti-client complaints quango at around £42K a year, including a pension.

Sounds like a good deal ? £807 a week plus perks, plus a pension to fiddle complaints against crooked lawyers and make sure consumers have no protection against the worst legal services in existence, plus the chance to meet with the flotsam from the Law Society ? Well if that is your game, I’d say go for it.

This new need for additional staff in the quango (which recently advertised it holds a massive £1.5million in surplus funds, while refusing to pay back its public funding of nearly £2 million), is not due to the SLCC’s heavy workload of investigating complaints against crooked lawyers, because there is apparently no heavy workload at the SLCC as I revealed last week here most complaints have been passed back to the Law Society of Scotland, the well known, infamous self regulator which usually lets ‘crooked lawyers’ off the hook.

One legal insider said this afternoon : “Working at the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission is a bit like being in the trenches. Neither staff teams from the former Scottish Legal Services Ombudsman’s office or the Law Society trust each other. At times the air can be cut with a knife.”

SLCC members  expenses SLCC Board members racked up a staggering £135K a year in expenses claims yet quango hardly does any work. In spite of the SLCC’s roll of infamy to-date, mired in scandals involving everything from huge expenses payouts to its board members, a systematic failure to deal with complaints on any level, consistent failures to address its duties emanating from the Legal Profession & Legal Aid (Scotland) Act 2007, media exposes on its members drunken hate filled, booze fuelled rants against consumers, reformers, critics and even victims of crooked lawyers, there are a few positions now available at Scotland’s least worked quango, which appears to be following very much in the vein of the Law Society of Scotland, as each day passes.

Margaret Scanlan - Called to the Bars - Sunday Mail  15 March 2009 emailFancy being called to the bars with SLCC Board members ? It could be you ! Consumer protection, we never got, and never can expect from this tragic gathering of people who have no intention of helping victims of the legal profession, but we can certainly expect ever rising expenses claims from its board members, many of whom appear to have several other highly paid jobs & quango positions, while the SLCC’s task of investigating complaints, is mostly left to rot. You can read my previous coverage of the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission and how it really has done nothing for regulation, or consumer confidence in the legal profession HERE.

Below, is the latest job offerings from the SLCC, where anti-client, anti-consumer lawyer friendly individuals who know how to whitewash a complaint, should definitely apply – sounds like just the job for any ex-Law Society staff.

Jobs at the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission

Case Investigation Manager & Gateway Team Manager

CASE INVESTIGATIONS MANAGER (refIM1)

GATEWAY TEAM MANAGER (ref GW1)

Salary for both posts in the region of £41,944. Group Self Invested Personal Pension + Benefits

The Scottish Legal Complaints Commission (SLCC) is a corporate body operating independently of the legal profession and the government. It was set up by Statute to modernise the legal complaints handling system, to ensure complaints are resolved quickly and effectively. We are looking for people with the vision, determination and drive to form a key part of our management team and lead our people, achieve objectives and play a central role in making a real impact for the people of Scotland.

You will provide leadership and team management to your team, organising staff and other resources to deal with complaints in accordance with the SLCC’s Complaint Handling Procedures and quality standards. You will support and develop your team and as a member of the management team you will assist in the review and further develop our policies and procedures to provide a high quality, efficient complaints handling service.

To be successful in this role you will be educated to degree level or equivalent and ideally will have a legal or comparable qualification and a supervisory management qualification.

You will have demonstrable experience in writing and providing procedural advice and guidance, including drafting reports and be able to demonstrate leadership and management skills. You will have a track record of significant achievement with a minimum of 3 years people and performance management experience. A working knowledge of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook is essential. You will be an effective communicator who is well organised and delivers work on time and to the agreed level of quality. Ideally you will be able to influence at local, national and strategic levels, with the personal and professional manner to command confidence of stakeholders.

To Apply:

Please contact Rick Mattison on 0131 243 2981 or rickmattison@uk.michaelpage.com, quoting reference MPTJ13091641. Please return your completed application and diversity monitoring form to Rick Mattison at Michael Page. Closing date for applications is Friday 5 March 2009. SLCC short listing will take place on Monday 22 March and interviews will be held on Monday 29, Tuesday 30, Wednesday 31 March 2010.

 

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