RSS

Tag Archives: Regulation

Holyrood, msps & their queasy feelings about regulation reform : Eight petitions against Scottish Public Services Ombudsman closed in under three minutes

LGC Committee HolyroodScottish Parliament’s Local Government Committee closed eight petitions asking for an independent review of the SPSO. As readers will now be well aware, EIGHT PUBLIC PETITIONS calling for an independent review of the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman (SPSO) which received the backing of the Scottish Government’s Housing Minister Alex Neil in his capacity as a constituency MSP to the petitioners were closed in under three minutes by the Scottish Parliament’s Local Government & Communities Committee on Wednesday of last week.

The closure of all eight petitions, calling for a review of the independent regulator which investigates complaints against public services in Scotland, maintains the Scottish Parliament’s noticeably almost perfect record of refusing to consider any public petition which calls for an independent investigation into, or reform of any regulator, self-regulator, or ‘Ombudsman’ position in Scotland.

For those who were following the progress of the eight petitions calling for a review of the SPSO, along with one additional petition with similar aims which was closed by the Petitions Committee at an earlier hearing, I reported on these matters in earlier coverage which includes video testimony from Alex Neil MSP, here : Holyrood considers nine petitions against Scottish Public Services Ombudsman as Housing Minister dubbed ‘out of touch’ over accusations

The Petitions Committee then sent all eight of the remaining petitions to the Local Government & Communities Committee, reported here : Petitions calling for review of Scottish Public Services Ombudsman over complaints remit sent to Holyrood’s Local Government Committee

The Scottish Parliament’s Local Government & Communities Committee did indeed consider the petitions, for around three minutes, although as observers to the committee’s deliberations noted, it took the Convener longer to read out the details of the petitions themselves than it actually took members to debate their content in front of the cameras. The Committee subsequently closed all eight petitions involving the SPSO.

Holyrood’s Local Government & Communities Committee ‘discuss’ public petitions calling for a review of the SPSO (click image below to view video)

Scottish Public Services Ombudsman (Review) (PE1342, PE1343, PE1344, PE1345, PE1346, PE1347, PE1348 and PE1349)

The Convener: Item 5 is consideration of eight petitions that call on the Scottish Parliament to urge the Scottish Government to commission an independent review of the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman to make it more accountable for its performance, including the extent to which its investigations are fair and robust, and to widen its remit so that it can enforce its recommendations following investigations into actions of public bodies. The petitions are PE1342, by Phyllis and Robert French; PE1343, by Sandra Smith; PE1344, by Philip Hawthorne; PE1345, by James Smith; PE1346, by William Whiteside; PE1347, by Christina Cumming; PE1348, by Mr and Mrs Corbett; and PE1349, by Iris Innes. I invite members to discuss the petitions and to consider options 1, 2 and 3, as outlined in paper LGC/S3/11/5/5.

Alex Johnstone: Before the discussion begins, given some of the correspondence that we have had on the subject, I draw to my colleagues’ attention the fact that I am an elected member of the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body.

The Convener: Do you want to add anything further on the proposals in the paper?

Alex Johnstone: No.

John Wilson: I point out to members that, as a member of the Public Petitions Committee, I sat in consideration of these petitions.

The Convener: Okay. Do you have any comments to add to that?

John Wilson: No.

Alasdair Morgan: In view of what we have heard from the SPCB in Paul Grice’s letter and, more particularly, from the ombudsman the last time he appeared before us, we should take no further action on the petitions and close them.

The Convener: Do members agree to Alasdair Morgan’s suggestion, which is option 1, which is that we should close the petitions under rule 15.7 of the standing orders and take no further action?
Members indicated agreement.

The next day, February 10, the Scottish Parliament voted on the reappointment of Jim Martin as Scottish Public Services Ombudsman for a further six year term, with msps voting 98 in favour, 8 voting against, and 9 abstaining.

The reappointment of Mr Martin was announced HERE

Mike Pringle, MSP, who proposed the motion on behalf of the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body (SPCB), said : “It is the unanimous view of the SPCB that Jim Martin is the right person for the role of Scottish Public Services Ombudsman. We consider that he has brought about visible and sustained improvements to the case load management of the office. His regular commentaries demonstrate recommendations for public authorities to make improvements to their processes where that is appropriate. He has also introduced a quality assurance process that we believe will continue to drive up the standards that he wants.”

Mr Pringle continued : “Of course, the SPCB is aware that some members have not always agreed with the ombudsman‘s decisions, and we received some unsolicited representations about the reappointment of Jim Martin. The Parliament has given the ombudsman the independence to make decisions, and in doing so he is not under our direction or control at all. As with ombudsmen around the world, not all parties will be satisfied all the time. That is simply not possible, given the nature of the job. However, we believe that Mr Martin is the right person and that during his next six-year term in office he will continue to build on the considerable improvements that he has already made in his office.”

Integrity4scotland is a campaign which has been set up to “campaign for the highest ethical standards, transparency & public accountability within Scottish public service bodies. Readers who may have encountered difficulties with the Scottish Public;ic Services Ombudsman or have issues with the accountability of Scottish public service bodies may wish to visit their website HERE

As I was busy with other reports last week and some upcoming investigations, this article is published today to complete my reporting on the progress of the petitions against the SPSO in the duty of keeping readers aware of how the Scottish Parliament handles petitions involving ‘touchy subjects’ such as regulation of, well … anything.

Advertisements
 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

UK Banking Regulation ‘a joke’ as Financial Services Authority clears Royal Bank of Scotland & ‘World’s Worst Banker’ of wrongdoing over bank collapse

FSAFinancial Services Authority wont publish RBS review’s content but claims RBS collapse was down to bad decisions only. THE SPECTACULAR COLLAPSE of the Royal Bank of Scotland under the leadership of Sir Fred Goodwin, dubbed by the media as the ‘World’s Worst Banker’ was simply down to bad business decisions, rather than corruption or any lack of integrity, so says the UK’s financial regulator, the Financial Services Authority (FSA) in a timely release today while most of the county’s focus remains on winter storms, Russia winning the competition to host the 2018 World Cup (удача!), and yet more expected headlines from Wikileaks on international & domestic political double dealing.

After completing an investigation which began in May 2009, the Financial Services Authority released a statement today after completing its supervisory investigation which began in May 2009. The FSA said RBS had made “a series of bad decisions” and the bank’s failure which led to the massive multi billion pound UK taxpayer bailout, seeing the RBS 84% owned by the Government, was “not the result of any lack of integrity by any individual and we did not identify any instances of fraud or dishonest activity by senior individuals or a failure of governance on part of the board“.

Fred GoodwinSir Fred Goodwin, off the hook, still working and still has a title, unlike many now being made redundant because of the UK banking collapse.The FSA said it would be taking no enforcement action as a result of the investigation, either against the firm or against individuals, so all those who were instrumental in the downfall of the UK’s largest financial institution, and are responsible for the biggest public service cuts ever in this country, along with throwing millions of people’s lives into financial turmoil, get away with it once again. Is this justice ? I think not. However it is consistent with regulation in the UK, that is, in the world of non-existent regulation.

The FSA’s statement in full :

FSA closes supervisory investigation of RBS

In May 2009 the Financial Services Authority (FSA) launched a supervisory investigation into Royal Bank of Scotland Group (RBS), as one of the UK banks that required partial taxpayer bailout support. This work considered if regulatory rules had been broken and what, if any, action was appropriate. The review was necessarily extensive and looked specifically at the conduct of senior individuals at the bank, the acquisition of ABN AMRO in 2007 and the 2008 capital raisings. The FSA conducted the review with assistance from PWC.

The FSA has now completed this supervisory investigation. The review confirmed that RBS made a series of bad decisions in the years immediately before the financial crisis, most significantly the acquisition of ABN AMRO and the decision to aggressively expand its investment banking business. However, the review concluded that these bad decisions were not the result of a lack of integrity by any individual and we did not identify any instances of fraud or dishonest activity by RBS senior individuals or a failure of governance on the part of the Board.

The issues we investigated do not warrant us taking any enforcement action, either against the firm or against individuals. However, the competence of RBS individuals can, and will, be taken into account in any future applications made by them to work at FSA regulated firms.

The FSA’s supervisory investigations into other banks that ‘failed’ during the crisis are ongoing. If they lead to enforcement action being taken then it would be usual for the FSA to make these outcomes public if such actions against individuals or institutions are successful.

The FSA cannot publish the content of the RBS review as information gathered from the bank during the course of the review remains confidential under the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 (FSMA).

Rob MacGregor for the UNITE union released a statement condemning the FSA’s decision not to prosecute the RBS executives and condemned the FSA as being unable to hold the banking sector to account.

Rob MacGregor, Unite national officer, said: “Once again the Financial Services Authority has demonstrated its weakness and inability to hold the sector to account. The report’s conclusions are an outrage. It is unacceptable to suggest that the behaviour of the management in this iconic UK bank did not ‘lack integrity’ when they brought RBS to its knees, resulting in thousands of staff losing their livelihoods.

“By failing to bring any formal charges against the RBS executives the FSA has allowed some of the biggest villains of the financial crisis to go on enjoying their millionaire lifestyles whilst taxpayers experience cuts and staff face an insecure future.”

We can remind ourselves just what happened to the Royal Bank of Scotland at the hands of Sir Fred Goodwin, who still retains his knighthood and a job, unlike many victims of the public services cuts, including the UK’s armed forces and even the carrier HMS Ark Royal, now sunk twice it seems, the first time by a U-Boat of the Nazi German navy and now sunk again or scrapped as a result of the financial harm inflicted on the country by bankers who are off the hook once again.

Collapse of the Royal Bank of Scotland (Click images to watch video)

The Herald newspaper reported that during the Treasury Select Committee’s evidence sessions, “The four ex-chiefs of Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) and HBOS admitted to having no formal banking qualifications between them in today’s dramatic grilling by MPs.

“Members of the Treasury Select Committee heard how not one of the witnesses – who presided over two of Britain’s biggest and worst hit banks – had technical banking training. The bosses – including former RBS chief executive Sir Fred Goodwin – were forced to defend themselves against tough questions over their suitability to lead the banks, which had to be bailed out with billions of pounds of taxpayers’ cash.”

“Sir Fred denied he lacked experience, saying he had a degree in law and was a qualified chartered accountant, while also having worked as chief executive of the Clydesdale Bank and Yorkshire Bank before joining RBS. Sir Tom McKillop, previously chairman of now part-nationalised RBS, said he was “certainly numerate”, although he conceded he had not studied banking specifically.”

Disgusting. These people have made fools of our country, our financial system, even our way of life. There are no words at all really to describe what they have done, and the suffering their actions are causing us – but its all ok because Sir Fred Goodwin had an LLB, and since the FSA said it was all just down to a few bad decisions, that’s fine. Right ?

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Consumer protection ‘a low priority’ as law firms call for split from Law Society masks solicitors power grab for Scots legal services market

Law Society of ScotlandLaw Society of Scotland faces division over Legal Services reform. LEGAL SERVICES REFORM which would bring Scots wider access to justice is facing a new , if perhaps temporary hurdle as several solicitors & law firms who are upset over the plans contained in the Scottish Government’s Legal Services Bill, call for a break away from the Law Society of Scotland, who are now being accused of not representing solicitors best interests, by not protecting the ‘independence’ of Scotland’s legal profession – which actually translates into not protecting solicitors current monopoly over consumers access to justice.

The Legal Services Bill, which you can read more about in my previous reports HERE, if passed by the Scottish Parliament, will effectively allow much wider competition in Scotland’s currently ‘solicitor only’ dominated legal services market, freeing consumers from being forced to use a member solicitor or law firm of the Law Society of Scotland to gain access to justice or legal services.

In a reformed legal services market, banks, supermarkets and others will be able to provide Scots consumers with legal services at costs much less than those currently charged by law firms controlled by the Law Society of Scotland, who are now more widely known for their failures to represent clients best interests while charging huge fees for little work, than achieving actual successes for clients who often end up worse off than before they walked in the lawyers front door.

Those leading the call to split from the Law Society are the Glasgow Bar Association, the Govan Law Centre, along with two Glasgow law firms, MacRoberts & Thomsons , all warning that introducing Legal Services Reform to Scotland (the same reforms introduced in England & Wales during 2007 with much less fuss) will undermine centuries of independent legal representation in Scotland. While client & consumer protection appear very low down on the list of priorities in this argument which is essentially between law firms & the Law Society vying for control over the consumers right to choose their legal representative, the Glasgow Bar Association have now called for a referendum for all solicitors to decide whether the Law Society of Scotland should represent their interests.

Now that certain sections of Scotland’s antiquated, monopolistic legal services market realise their income & influence via the current business model is under threat, a drive is underway by solicitors to influence members of the Scottish Parliament to vote against the Legal Services Bill, citing among the arguments, that Government Ministers will be able to interfere in the selection of members of the Council of the Law Society, where up to 20% of the 60 will be made up of members of the public Government stooges, who could be picked according to criteria set by ministers – just like we saw at the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission, where the Law Society managed to stuff the SLCC with its own people as I reported earlier here : Call for MacAskill appointments ‘sleaze investigation’ as revelations show Legal Complaints Commission member was subject of Police inquiry

The problem with that argument about Ministerial interference however, is as you can see that despite Ministers apparently having the power to make independent selections, they always appear to select more stooges from the profession itself, so in reality nothing much will change, other than perhaps certain sections of the legal profession not being able to stuff the Council of the Law Society as they have always been used to doing …

Clearly solicitors don’t want anyone other than solicitors on the Law Society’s ‘Council’, although that would be fine with me if the Law Society were to be stripped of its regulatory & disciplinary role, and left to be nothing more than a representative union for solicitors, rather than the all controlling, all powerful, all crooked regulator it has always been.

An official from one of Scotland’s consumer organisations branded the current debate ‘a diversion’ and accused certain sections of the legal profession from trying to obstruct reforms which would lead to greater consumer choice and protection from Scotland’s notoriously poor legal services market.

He said : “Clearly certain sections of the legal profession seem intent on staging a coup for control of the Law Society in an attempt to thwart much needed reforms to Scotland’s legal services market. This is purely a selfish move designed to promote the interests of solicitors over consumer choice.”

He continued : “The only way to resolve the fears of solicitors in this debate would be to strip the Law Society of its regulation role and that of representing clients best interests, steps we would wholeheartedly welcome.”

Ian SmartLaw Society President Ian Smart – independence is essential. The response from the Law Society of Scotland was to claim it had always promoted independence of the legal profession as being fundamental to its support of the Legal Services (Scotland) Bill. Mr Smart said : “In its response to the Bill and during parliamentary evidence sessions, the Society insisted that independence is essential and that the role of the Lord President should be strengthened to ensure that this remains the case. The Society will continue to lobby changes to section 92, which has been raised as a concern by both the Society and its members.

Mr Smart continued : “The Bill as it currently stands provides ministers with powers to make regulations which could specify the criteria they considered appropriate for appoint ability and the number of lay members on Council and can prescribe a minimum number or proportion if they believe such a prescription is necessary. Before these regulations are made, Scottish ministers would have to consult with Council, the Lord President, OFT and other consumer bodies. That would only be the case if the Society failed to implement section 92 properly. Only the Society can appoint any lay members to the Council, not Scottish ministers. It should be remembered that most other professional bodies have for many years appointed lay members because of the qualities, expertise and talent they bring, including the GMA (General Medical Council, GDA (General Dentists ‘ Council), ICAS (accountants), RICS (surveyors) and the BMA (British Medical Council), which although is a representative body also has large patient representative committees.”

“It may be difficult to accept any input by politicians into how the Society functions, despite it being a body set up by statute, but the 20% lay membership on Council, which will become part of the Society’s obligations, was decided by Council members and has been agreed as appropriate by ministers. This is despite continued pressure from the consumer lobby for somewhere between 50% to 75% of lay membership on the Society’s council. Lay members have also been on the Society’s regulatory committees for around 20 years and all now have 50% lay membership. Non-regulatory committees are predominantly made up of practicing solicitors.”

“None of this represents a handing over of independence of Scotland’s largest legal profession and taking an antagonistic stance does not help negotiate any long term benefits for the profession.”

If solicitors are going to have a say in who represents them, without giving any regard as to who will represent the very clients who fund their ill deserved lavish offices & law firms, perhaps clients and consumers should also be able to have a referendum on who they want to regulate legal services and handle complaints against the legal profession.

Which logoWhich? revealed recently most want independent regulation of legal services. We already know from research which has already taken place on this issue, some of it dating back over a decade from the Scottish Consumer Council, to current research undertaken by UK consumer organisation Which?, consumers have always wanted a fully independent regulator of legal services in Scotland, rather than the half way, hapless, ‘just as crooked’ Scottish Legal Complaints Commission, which now ranks among most clients as Law Society MkII when it comes to dealing with complaints against solicitors.

Only fully independent regulation of Scotland’s legal services market will resolve these and many other problems faced by consumers and solicitors alike but as we have seen from the dithering Justice Secretary, fully independent regulation of solicitors is apparently a step too far for Mr MacAskill who according to his own civil servants, is too busy purging the Justice Department than addressing issues affecting Scots access to justice …

For more on this story, read THIS REPORT in the Herald

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Consumer fears as Law Society pleads to Scottish Parliament’s Justice Committee for more ‘closed shop regulation’ of legal services in Scotland

Debating chamberScottish Parliament will hear pleas from lawyer to continue regulating themselves. THE JUSTICE COMMITTEE of the Scottish Parliament will tomorrow, Tuesday 15th December, hear pleas from the Law Society of Scotland to be allowed to continue in its role as self regulator of the lion’s share of legal services in Scotland, despite the fact that for well over three decades now, self regulation of Scotland’s 10,000 solicitors by the Law Society of Scotland has led to the lowest standards of legal services in the western world, and the highest number of complaints made against its member solicitors, many involving serious issues of fraud, dishonesty, and almost endemic negligence from many solicitors & legal firms who promote themselves as some of the ‘most respected’ in Scotland’s legal services marketplace.

The Legal Services Bill, currently being considered by the Scottish Parliament’s Justice Committee, is an attempt to widen public access to justice in Scotland, and also allow legal firms to draw in outside investment, hence the term ‘alternative business structures’, used by the legal profession to placate its desire for more money, but very much less by way of any improvements for consumer protections, which of courses the Law Society of Scotland wishes to keep control of for itself.

You can read my previous reports on the Legal Services Bill, once called the ‘Legal Profession Bill’ by the Scottish Government but changed after some smart-eyed civil servant thought it sounded too ‘pro-the-lawyers’, here : Legal Services Bill for Scotland – an attempt at access to justice, or simply to give lawyers more control over justice ?

Ian SmartLaw Society President, Ian Smart claims the Law Society must maintain regulation to protect its members. The Law Society of Scotland’s current President Ian Smart said today in a relatively unremarkable Press Release that : “The bill is set to reform how legal services can be delivered in Scotland and help provide the means for lawyers to modernise their businesses to meet the needs of their clients. Overall the Society is in agreement with the aims of the bill but we have identified key areas of concern and recommended a number of amendments.”

Mr Smart stated the Law Society’s priorities are :

* A robust regulatory system is put in place to provide strong consumer protections and ensure that high standards are maintained among those delivering legal services. (something the Law Society has never managed since 1947)

* Independence of the legal profession from government must be maintained. (Surely this is in no doubt.)

* A level playing field is required for those in the legal services market, whether as a legal services provider or as a regulator. (level playing fields also have to include consumers, of which the Law Society seems to have forgotten about once again)

* Access to justice must not be hindered. (rich, coming from Mr Smart, given the fact the Law Society of Scotland is the greatest hindrance of the public’s access to justice)

Would Granny Swear by the Law Society - The Herald June 5 2006Former Law Society Chief Douglas Mill’s policy to protect consumers was to wipe out their claims and write secret memos against their complaints, featured in a Herald newspaper expose. What consumer protections is Mr Smart actually talking about ? There is no such thing as consumer protection against ‘crooked lawyers’ in Scotland, where up to 5,000 plus complaints are made each year against Scotland’s less than 10,000 solicitors (in one year the figure was as high as 8,000 complaints) and many complaints involving allegations of theft, embezzlement, fraud, dishonesty and negligence, never see full compensation paid to clients who have to engage the Law Society for years in letters while the solicitor who ripped them off gets away with a Law Society slap on the wrist. You can read a previous report I did on the ‘consumer protections’ currently on offer by the Legal Services Bill, here : Legal Services Bill promises nightmare complaints scenario for consumers as Law Society campaigns to control regulation over ‘Tesco Law’ reform

Ex Law Society Chief Douglas Mill’s grilling by an earlier Justice Committee on consumer protections & poor Law Society regulation left Scots in no doubt the legal profession is rotten to the core.

Ian Smart just couldn’t resist pressing on with the Law Society’s tired line on regulation and how to maintain control over it, going onto comment : “Maintaining regulation, representation and professional support within one organisation means the Society can be an effective membership organisation for Scotland’s 10,000 solicitors, as it acts for a group that is effectively regulated.”

He continued : “We also have to bear in mind that Scotland is a distinct legal jurisdiction with a relatively small and scattered population. This, among the many other considerations, must be taken into account to avoid any unnecessary bureaucratic or financial burden. We look forward to engaging with the profession, Scottish Government, the Parliament and other interested groups in the future development of legal services in Scotland.”

Scotland is a distinct legal jurisdiction only because you keep it that way, Mr Smart. Scotland is a distinct legal jurisdiction which does not allow its people unhindered access to justice and access to the courts, simply because the Law Society of Scotland forces anyone who requires access to justice to use the services of an expensive solicitor who is also a member of the Law Society of Scotland.

How much of an unnecessary bureaucratic or financial burden would it be to allow Scots a voice in the justice system instead of going through one of your colleagues, Mr Smart ? Surely it would be worth it, considering the huge fee notes, many of which are fraudulent these days, that are being handed out by law firms to clients just to make up the profits in these dire financial times …

A spokesman for one of Scotland’s consumer organisations today expressed dismay at the Law Society’s attitude towards the Legal Services Bill, claiming the Law Society ‘was seeking to control the entire debate on access to justice and maintain control over regulation’.

He said : “We have heard all this before from the Law Society when it comes to making any changes to consumer access to legal services in Scotland, however small they may be. The Law Society comes out claiming the house will fall down if it is not allowed to regulate the legal services market and enforce some kind of fantastic standard of service provided by legal practitioners which frankly does not exist if the views of consumers are to be taken into account.”

He continued : “However, I detect a hint of worry in the Law Society’s recent abrupt turn on their attitude towards the debate on alternative business structures, as they clearly feel they are in a much weakened position now that campaigners and consumer groups are consistently tackling the issue of Scotland’s notoriously poor legal services market and the high levels of client complaints.”

“It is to be hoped the Justice Committee will see through the Law Society’s obfuscation of the fact that legal services in Scotland have always been poor, and will always be poor as long as the Law Society has any hand in regulatory matters.”

As an experienced reporter on issues relating to the Law Society of Scotland and regulation of complaints, it is very clear the interests of consumers will only be served by a complete overhaul of regulation of legal services in Scotland, with consumer protection made the first priority, rather than the profession being allowed yet again to maintain the closed shop regulation system which as we have repeatedly seen over the decades, operates a hostile policy towards complaints & disputes between consumers & solicitors.

You can read the Law Society of Scotland’s submission to the Scottish Parliament’s Justice Committee on the Legal Services Bill, here : Law Society of Scotland evidence on Legal Services Bill (pdf) and you will be able to watch the live stream of evidence given by the Law Society representatives at the Justice Committee, tomorrow, by selecting the Justice Committee live video stream on the main page, here : Holyrood TV

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Toxic levels of complaints, poor standards of service & soaring fraud by solicitors makes Law Society of Scotland ‘World’s worst regulator’

The 4m Crooked Lawyer (John McCabe) - Daily Record 1991Crooked lawyers give Scotland a bad name. While the attention of most remains focussed on the crisis in the banking system, the problems which have caused the collapse of our great financial institutions are nothing new to Scotland’s legal sector. Year in year out, clients have been losing millions of pounds of their money to , ambitions, greedy, and downright crooked lawyers over the past couple of decades, and the regulator responsible, the Law Society of Scotland, has done little or nothing about it.

Tangled Web of deceit that ensared 4million - Scotlsman 28 November 1991A crooked lawyer’s tangled web of deceit. During 1991, one of the most famous cases of fraud by the Scots legal profession occurred with revelations that John McCabe, a solicitor working at the now defunct Edinburgh firm of Scott Moncrieff & Dove Lockhart, operated a multi million pound fraud scam against clients & banks, which ultimately was discovered after he became careless and so entrenched in deceit & debt, there was simply no place left to run (although he did try running to Uruguay). While clients stood ruined, and banks took huge losses, the Law Society of Scotland could only watch on as the press of the day mauled both the legal profession and the poor standards of regulation which allowed McCabe to get away with what he did, and ultimately, McCabe was jailed for 10 years for his crimes.

Just imagine for a minute, if every one of the 10,000 lawyers in Scotland stole £4million from their clients. What would be done about it ? .. well nothing much, as long as the Law Society has anything to do with regulating lawyers …

Lawyers left to make good the cost of colleague's dishonesty - Scotsman 1991Law Society Chief Kenneth Pritchard failed on reforms. Amid the recriminations of the McCabe case, and the costs of compensating his victims, the Law Society’s Kenneth Pritchard (now a Sheriff), promised reforms to ensure no repetition, and that standards would rise in Scotland’s legal profession to ensure public confidence remained in solicitors.

Kenneth Pritchard : “The aim of the new rules … is not to help the legal profession shrug off an obligation to meet losses, but to reduce the amount the Guarantee Fund might have to repay. “It should become much more difficult for solicitors to defraud clients. “There is not a reluctance among solicitors to pay this money. there is an acceptance that we must do so to maintain the good name and standing of the profession.”. What good name ?

Policy is to protect both says Law SocietyLaw Society Chief Pritchard performs a u-turn & orders legal firm to drop ‘crooked lawyers’ case. However, three years on in 1994, the same Law Society Chief, Kenneth Pritchard who had promised reforms to prevent crooked lawyers hurting their clients, was revealed to have personally intervened in a case of litigation against a firm of crooked lawyers, ordering the clients solicitors to withdraw from acting, letting the crooked lawyers off the hook in a policy of protection for crooked lawyers.

Extract of Court PleadingsCourt documents revealed Law Chief’s duplicity. Kenneth Pritchard wrote to legal firm Skene Edwards advising them to withdraw from acting in the case, and that letter was subsequently discussed in the Scottish Parliament debate chamber by Cabinet Secretary for Business John Swinney.

You can read more about how the Law Society of Scotland and Kenneth Pritchard did nothing to stem the rising tide of crooked lawyers, and actually closed ranks with crooked lawyers to protect them from punishment while denying clients access to justice, here : Law Society intervention in claims ‘commonplace’ as ex Chief admits Master Policy protects solicitors against clients

After the exploits of McCabe, the Law Society of Scotland professed to have ‘cleaned up Scotland’s legal profession, but much worse was to come as the following demonstrates.

Scotsman coverage of some of the stories relating to Andrew PenmanBorders lawyer Andrew Penman became Scotland’s most famous crooked lawyer. From 1994 to the present day, my own battle with the Law Society of Scotland ended up in the press, showing yet again the Law Society of Scotland would simply close ranks with crooked lawyers to protect them from client complaints & financial claims for dishonesty & fraud. Indeed, the Law Society went out of its way in a determined effort to prevent me from obtaining legal representation and access to the courts to pursue Penman and his legal firm Stormonth Darling solicitors, for the untold damage it did to my family. Nothing then had changed – there were still plenty of crooked lawyers in business, and the Law Society of Scotland still covered up for crooked lawyers no matter what.

Scotsman 8 January 1999 Independent watchdog for lawyers proposedProposals since 1999 to bring independent regulation to lawyers were blocked by Law Society. The legacy of Andrew Penman, and the cover up by the Law Society of his actions was felt by all solicitors just as in the McCabe case, and assisted with the drive to bring about independent regulation of lawyers and end the closed shop operated by the Law Society of Scotland that allowed thousands of complaints to be binned while investigations were whitewashed.

REVEALED - Top Lawyer at the centre of 12 negligence claims2006, and still plenty crooked lawyers in Scotland. Things are now so bad in Scotland that many solicitors & legal firms have ‘toxic levels of client complaints & claims’ for poor legal service, rendering the use of Scots solicitors a dangerous game of Russian roulette for consumers, where selecting the worst of a bad bunch can see you end up financially ruined and your lives destroyed by a greedy lawyer out to take as much as possible, safe in the knowledge his regulator, the Law Society of Scotland, will do nothing to help members of the public.

Cash Link to Law Chief StabbingLawyers staged mafia hit on one of their own. Indeed the corruption of Scotland’s legal profession became so entrenched, the Law Society’s own Chief Accountant, Leslie Cumming, was subject to a mafia hit, staged by crooked lawyers in an attempt it has since been claimed to put off investigations into crooked lawyers .. and while the then Law Society Chief Douglas Mill was busy blaming clients for the attack on Cumming, it became clear to all the motives for the attack came from within the ranks of Scotland’s solicitors, who had become so evil they would consider and use murder hits to escape justice for their vast network of corruption against clients.

EXCLUSIVE Lawyer sued for 1million 2007, and even more crooked lawyers. The media coverage of countless scandals within the Scots legal establishment, and the Law Society’s seeming ability to whitewash any crooked lawyer, no matter the crimes they had committed, ultimately brought about the creation of legislation passed in 2007 to ‘improve’ regulation of the legal profession, however the ‘independent’ Scottish legal Complaints Commission which was created as a result of the LPLA (Scotland) Act 2007 has since been co-opted by the Law Society, and is mired in many scandals itself, as the legal profession fights back to retain its crooked regulatory powers over crooked lawyers.

Let us finally take a look at some of the people who have perpetuated this disgraceful state of affairs the Scots legal services market finds itself in :

Douglas Mill at the Scottish ParliamentDouglas Mill, ex-Chief Exec. of the Law Society. Douglas Mill, recently famed on television for supporting Sir Fred Goodwin who brought RBS to its knees, made no bones about it, he had no time for clients who complained against crooked lawyers, and saw it as his mission to interfere in complaints & financial claims against crooked lawyers. Mill horrendously hounded clients who dared make a complaint against a solicitor, and personally saw to it that attempts at legal action against solicitors failed at every turn, even demanding legal aid be refused to anyone seeking to take a lawyer to court.

Philip Yelland - Director of Regulation - Law Society of ScotlandPhilip Yelland, Head of Client Relations. During all this time, and all these scandals, one man has been the key to ‘Client Relations’ at the Law Society of Scotland, Mr Philip Yelland, who has presided over scandal after scandal, where curiously many of the crooked lawyers got off the hook, or investigations were simply whitewashed, while the Law Society saw to it members of the public were denied access to justice and a solicitor to try and pursue the thousands of McCabes and Penmans for the damage they did to many clients.

Michael Clancy - Director of Law Reform - Law Society of ScotlandMichael Clancy, Director of Law Reform. Despite the hundreds of ‘crooked lawyer’ scandals in the last two decades, and all the promises of reform from the Law Society itself, nothing has been done to help thousands of people with outstanding cases against crooked lawyers, and some at the Law Society such as Michael Clancy, have come down hard against any proposals to bring in Parliament or new legislation to help clean up the legal profession’s sins of the past.

You can read my own proposals, in effect. a “Truth & Reconciliation” proposal for the Law Society’s sins of the past here : The polluter pays – Why cleaning up lawyers sins of the past would be good for the public & legal profession alike

We are now at a point where no matter the scale of corruption in Scotland’s legal services market, nothing will bring the reforms and consumer protection that all Scots and consumers of legal services in this country should have. The feeling now by many is that when someone goes to a lawyer, the odds are they are going to get ripped off, and with lawyers experiencing a marked downturn in legal business, levels of fraud against clients through faked up legal fees and menacing demands for expenses on work not carried out are sharply rising.

If we are to have good regulation of legal services in Scotland, the Law Society of Scotland and those associated with it, presently or formerly, cannot be allowed anywhere near such a body, as the crop of scandals at the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission show very clearly.

As long as we have a Justice Secretary who says he will protect lawyers from much needed reforms, the Scots public will always take second place to the criminal element of society that walks around with a Law Society of Scotland membership badge, professing to offer the best in legal services when in reality they offer levels of toxicity to consumers that Chemistry could never hope to define.

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,