Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Law Society of Scotland rejects complaint over estate ruined by huge legal fees

It looks like the Edinburgh legal & financial investment firm of Turcan Connell, which has offices at 1 Earl Grey Street, Edinburgh and in Guernsey,the Channel Islands can be added to the long list of legal firms to stay away from, judging from today's Herald newspaper report on how they administered an estate.

Turcan Connell seem to like the money and publicity .. as long as they are getting it written for their benefit, that is ... noting their recent claim to fame of hitting £450m in their investments ... see here : Law firm Turcan Connell funds hit £450m ... but despite the £450m in their investment portfolio .. they still manage to ruin an estate ... much in the same way, it seems that crooked Borders solicitor Drew Penman - Scotland's Most Famous Crooked Lawyer of Stormonth Darling Solicitors, Kelso .. did to my family .. and a few other clients too.

I can sympathise with Dr Kate Forrest on this one .. making a complaint against a firm of solicitors who have raped an estate can be a tedious affair .. and the Law Society, it all it's crooked glory, are loathed to do anything on such cases, as they have done in the case of Dr Forrest's complaint against Turcan Connell .. well ..actually, the Law Society of Scotland have went one better, and thrown the complaint out.

Quotes from the Herald article today :

Forrest complained that the firm had told her only that it would charge £200 an hour, had entered into unnecessary work, and had failed to give her estimates, or issue itemised bills, despite repeated requests. She claims the firm then gave an undertaking to halt the charges, in a meeting with witnesses at the firm's office, but this did not materialise.

When the Law Society examined the complaint, it ruled that the meeting could not be taken into account as the firm had no record of it, and it accepted an explanation by managing partner Douglas Connell that the complaint had been based entirely on a "misunderstanding".

The £16,000 in charges had the effect of more than wiping out any assets in the estate, which had gross assets of £69,574 but debts of £55,731.

The Law Society reported that the firm had "apologised for the oversight" in billing, and that "simple oversight … should not be defined as inadequate professional service"

Well, when a lawyer tells you they will charge only a set fee .. believe me .. it's a LIE. You got that one, right ? in English. A LIE.

Ask a lawyer for estimates of work ? What you get, if anything, is a LIE. Got that ? A LIE. I've tried it myself. They didn't provide me with an estimate despite repeated requests, and the lawyer then denied I ever made such requests - removed the file notes which matched my email records, took a sickie to get out of the complaint (he got off the hook of course) and then became a Law Accountant.

Another client of a lawyer who contacted me, told me they got an estimate back for £1500 and the final bill ended up at £8000.

Lawyers fake up paperwork on a daily basis. There must be more faked paperwork in lawyers offices in Scotland than there is fake currency floating round the planet.

They don't always fake up the paperwork too well though .. When Drew Penman was faking up the paperwork on my complaint .. he got some of the dates wrong and some of the staff entries upside down .. managed to insert the wrong documents into the wrong order .. and cleverly, the Law Society Complaints Reporter found this one out for himself .. that's why he recommended Drew Penman be prosecuted before the SSDT and be struck off .. but, being represented by equally crooked James Ness, now the Director of Law Care ... Penman got off the hook with even more fiddled evidence at the Complaints Committee hearing.

So you see .. faking up the paperwork is common .. and fake estimates from a lawyer for work .. if you ever actually manage to get one .. aren't worth the ink it takes to type them out.

I liked the part in the article where the Law Society said it couldn't accept the information relating to the 'meeting' where fees were discussed .. "as the firm had no record of it" ... great cop-out there, if familiar .. which goes down to fiddled minutes of meetings - which usually exist .. but the lawyer can remove them at will, because the Law Society of Scotland says they can do that .. it's called "right of lien" which is also used to keep files from a client until they pay for their services .. and even then .. surprise, any file the lawyer deems shouldn't be released to the client, is held back.

Maybe the minutes of the meeting did actually exist in this case ... we shall perhaps, never know .. but I know the same happened in my complaint against Drew Penman ... minutes of meetings were denied to exist .. the mysteriously turned up .. some of them faked of course .. so Dr Forrest should perhaps pursue that one further.

More quotes from the Herald article :

"If a client feels a fee is too much then it can be referred to the Auditor of Court who can decide what a reasonable fee might be. Firms may also charge for providing a bill which itemises each letter, phone call, etc, especially if it is for a large volume of work.

"If someone takes a court action against a solicitor then the society is not involved in that process."

Well, the process involving the 'Auditor of the Court' is usually referred to as "Judicial Taxation" ... but it's certainly no cure for the whims of crooked legal firms to charge what they want for services which usually are poorly handled.

You will all remember the famous £45,000 bill for photocopying which Tods Murray hit one of their clients with .. which was I heard, reduced to around £7,000 or even less after 'Judicial Taxation' .. but it doesn't always go the way of the client .... as the Auditor of the Court can get things wrong a lot too .. and there have been a few challenges to the validity of the Auditor of the Court's position over the years .. one fine example being a Judicial Review of the Auditor's actions, which you can read about here : OUTER HOUSE, COURT OF SESSION [2006] CSOH 169 OPINION OF J GORDON REID Q.C., F.C.I.Arb (sitting as a Temporary Judge) in the Petition of DANIEL PATRICK COYLE Petitioner; for Judicial Review of a decision of the Auditor of the Court of Session .. some good info on the Auditor of the Court contained in that one ...

However, the Law Society's statement : "If someone takes a court action against a solicitor then the society is not involved in that process." is simply, a LIE.

Here's proof of otherwise : The Corrupt Link Revealed - How the Law Society of Scotland manages client complaints & settlements.

More proof here : Law Society of Scotland claims success in gagging the press over Herald newspaper revelations of secret case memos

The Law Society of Scotland have a well practiced policy of managing all claims against solicitors, to make sure claims get nowhere and clients lose everything.

Indeed, what is happening to the estate in terms of the legal charges which will wipe out the estate assets, is quite common. After all, that's exactly what Drew Penman did to me .. and that's exactly what lawyers up and down Scotland do to estates - wipe them out by using up all their assets, cash, opening up high interest overdraft accounts with favoured Banks and squandering all the money in cosy deals between themselves and the Banks. Simple stuff - it's policy on all estates.

Here is a remarkably similar story Peter Laing from Scotland on Sunday wrote about my case involving crooked lawyer Drew Penman :

Scotland on Sunday February 2001 - Legal Profession in the dock over complaints about self regulation

Take a will to a lawyer, and plenty of you will get the same. I get reports of this all the time, and I know it's true, because it happened to my family.

I doubt Dr Forrest will be able to get a lawyer to sue a lawyer .. many of us have tried it, and it doesn't work, as you can see from my own coverage in the Scotsman which began with this story way back in October 1994 :

Scotsman 18 October 1994 Son threatens to walk away from inheritance after legal row

Complaints such as Dr Forrest's should be referred to the new SLCC, as it's plain for all to see the Law Society of Scotland are not doing their job, and never really have. It's time for a full review of the treatment of complaints against lawyers by clients over the years which have been subject to the utmost prejudice in favour of solicitors, by the most corrupt self regulatory body in existence - the Law Society of Scotland.

Here's the link to the Herald article today, and prepare yourselves for an even more gruesome story of the lengths crooked lawyers will go to defeat complaints later this week. Gruesome, and perhaps even, evil.

http://www.theherald.co.uk/business/77839.html

Legal bill wipes out net assets
IAIN MORSE and SIMON BAIN January 02 2007

A leading Edinburgh law firm which charged fees of more than £16,000 to administer an estate with net assets of under £14,000 has had a complaint against it to the Law Society of Scotland rejected.

The complaint was made by widow Dr Kate Forrest, a lecturer in Russian in Edinburgh, against Turcan Connell, the multi-disciplinary firm which prides itself on its "family office".

Forrest complained that the firm had told her only that it would charge £200 an hour, had entered into unnecessary work, and had failed to give her estimates, or issue itemised bills, despite repeated requests. She claims the firm then gave an undertaking to halt the charges, in a meeting with witnesses at the firm's office, but this did not materialise.

When the Law Society examined the complaint, it ruled that the meeting could not be taken into account as the firm had no record of it, and it accepted an explanation by managing partner Douglas Connell that the complaint had been based entirely on a "misunderstanding".

The £16,000 in charges had the effect of more than wiping out any assets in the estate, which had gross assets of £69,574 but debts of £55,731.

The Law Society reported that the firm had "apologised for the oversight" in billing, and that "simple oversight … should not be defined as inadequate professional service".

In November, Jane Irvine, the Scottish Legal Services Ombudsman, issued a rare public rebuke to the Law Society over its handling of complaints, urging it to "recognise that the consumer age has dawned".

The Scottish Executive is poised to scrap self-regulation by the profession, policed by the ombudsman, and introduce a Scottish Legal Complaints Commission, which the society is fiercely resisting.

The number of complaints received by the Law Society of Scotland has shot up from 2402 during 2002 to 4849 last year. The 12-page annual report of the society's Client Relations Office records 1057 cases in which no action was taken at all last year, while in 108 cases a solicitor's conduct was found unsatisfactory.

The current procedure starts with a reference to the law firm against which the complaint is made, and internal procedures to be followed by firms are laid down by the society. Only after these are exhausted can complainants proceed to the Law Society itself. And then, perhaps surprisingly, complainants can be charged by the law firm for their work in submitting the relevant evidence to the society.

The evidence regarded as acceptable by the society may be limited only to the files presented by the law firm, though it can order the production of "missing"documents - such as the record of a meeting. If a complaint is rejected by the society, the complainants have recourse to the courts. But this means finding a law firm prepared to act against another firm - which as The Herald has reported can be difficult in Edinburgh - at a minimum cost of several thousand pounds, a considerable disincentive to taking legal action.

Kate Forrest says she is left with no choice but to go to court if she wishes to challenge an outstanding fee in excess of £8000. She says: "For me this would be expensive and risky. I am not rich and they know this very well."

The Law Society of Scotland said: "A complaint about a fee could be service or conduct as it could result from a breach of a rule if there was no letter of engagement, or IPS (inadequate professional service) if there was insufficient communication about a fee with a client.

"If a client feels a fee is too much then it can be referred to the Auditor of Court who can decide what a reasonable fee might be. Firms may also charge for providing a bill which itemises each letter, phone call, etc, especially if it is for a large volume of work.

"If someone takes a court action against a solicitor then the society is not involved in that process."

Turcan Connell said: "We care deeply about ensuring that we give every client the best possible service. Our trust and tax experts are among the most proficient in Scotland, and we always strive to protect our clients' interests and minimise their costs as far as possible.

"Dr Forrest is no longer a client. We resolutely protect the privacy of all current and former clients, and would not make any public comment on an individual's personal circumstances or relationship with us."

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

£16000 in legal charges and these greedy bastards have £450 million in their accounts

Why the fuck are people dealing with these companies ? Obviously all the lawyers in Scotland are just fucking crooks and should be given a wide berth.

take your money elsewhere people unless you all like being ripped off

Anonymous said...

you missed this in the sunday herald

http://www.sundayherald.com/news/heraldnews/display.var.1096768.0.rent_row_msp_was_warned_six_years_ago.php

Rent row MSP was warned six years ago
By Paul Hutcheon

A LABOUR MSP who has been criticised for billing the taxpayer for staying in his son's flat was warned about his behaviour six years ago.

The then presiding officer, Sir David Steel, told John Home Robertson that his rental agreement was leaving himself and the parliament "open to criticism".

But the politician sidestepped the complaint by insisting he could not face the "hassle" of decorating another property.

The revelations are contained in letters released by the parliament concerning Home Robertson's controversial living arrangements.

The Sunday Herald recently disclosed that the MSP was charging the public £7000 a year to stay in his son's Edinburgh flat through the parliament's Edinburgh Allowance Scheme (EAS).

Patrick Home Robertson bought the £72,000 property, at the age of 17, days before his father was elected as an MSP. No mortgage was taken out on the flat.

The Labour MSP, who announced his intention to stand down days after his rental arrangements were made public, insisted he had done nothing wrong.

However, correspondence released by Holyrood shows that officials were concerned about his use of the allowances regime six years ago.

Presiding officer Steel asked Home Robertson in March 2000 to provide further information on his rent deal as a way of helping officials decide whether it was "within the spirit" of the rules.

Having received the additional details, Steel wrote to the MSP regarding the concerns of the Scottish Parliament Corporate Body (SPCB) about members renting from relatives. He noted that officials "could not legally withhold payment", but he flagged up his anxieties about Home Robertson's conduct.

"We believe, however," he wrote, "that this sort of arrangement, whereby you rent from a close family member, could leave you open to criticism if it were to get into the public domain. Since we had in effect endorsed your arrangements by agreeing to reimburse them, there could also be criticism of the SPCB."

He also told Home Robertson that the SPCB was minded to recommend that renting from relatives should be "spe- cifically proscribed".

But the MSP claimed his rent deal was signed in "good faith" and said that any move to outlaw the practice of renting from family members should not apply to him.

"My concern is that the application of the suggested change to the rules might be applied to existing leases, which would compel me to move out of my flat and find another one.

"Apart from the obvious cost and hassle of flat-hunting and flitting, I don't think that I could face another bout of decorating, carpetting sic and curtain making," he wrote.

The documents also revealed that Home Robertson's son has received around £43,000 from the public in rent.

Solidarity MSP Tommy Sheridan condemned the Labour politician. "Home Robertson has a lot to answer for over this new revelation that he was aware six years ago his claim could be seen in a poor light," he said.

Home Robertson could not be contacted for comment yesterday

Anonymous said...

and this

http://www.sundayherald.com/news/heraldnews/display.var.1096777.0.msps_bid_to_slash_sleaze_in_holyrood.php


MSPs’ bid to slash sleaze in Holyrood
By Kirsty Taylor

THE SCOTTISH Greens are calling for ministers to be scrutinised just as closely as MSPs and to make them more accountable for their actions. They are planning to include changes to the sleaze rules for Scottish Executive members in their Holyrood manifesto next year.

The ministerial code covers the conduct of first minister Jack McConnell's Cabinet, such as its members' private interests and anything that might enable the misuse of Executive resources.

The Greens' proposals come after allegations that McConnell breached the anti-sleaze code by meeting tycoon Donald Trump in New York before a decision was made on the businessman's application to build a £300 million golf resort in Aberdeenshire.

Ministers are currently self-regulating. Although they must justify any perceived breaches of the ministerial code to parliament, they can stay in office as long as the first minister's confidence is retained.

The Greens' call for ministers to be more accountable has also been backed by the SNP and Scottish Tories.

Green MSP Patrick Harvie, who has written to his party colleagues asking them to address the issue in the party's manifesto, said: "MSPs are subject to intense scrutiny whether it is by the parliamentary standards commissioner or public bodies under the Scottish public services ombudsman and there seems to be no reason why this should not apply to Cabinet ministers and first ministers, too.

"This is a time where public confidence in politicians is low and additional scrutiny could go some way to reversing this trend."

Earlier this year the Greens called for an inquiry into McConnell's New York meetings with Trump, but McConnell denied his close association with the millionaire breached the code and refused requests for an inquiry.

"McConnell's meetings with Trump are a good example of where there is disagreement over the actions of a minister," said Harvie. "I am not saying that it was a resigning matter but it was left unresolved. There could feasibly be a situation in the future where a first minister needs to be held to account for a more serious issue and the Scottish Executive does not have processes in place to deal with this."

He added that the bodies scrutinising MSPs could extend their remit to cover ministers.

Other parties agreed that members of the Cabinet should be held more accountable, but suggested different ways of scrutinising them.

Earlier this month the parliament's procedures committee recommended the introduction of debates in which MSPs could question ministers on parliamentary business.

SNP MSP Bruce Crawford said: "It might be wise to look at another body to independently oversee their actions. Anything that makes ministers more accountable and any more transparent must be a good thing, but I would have thought the Greens would have made more constructive use of the parliamentary committee system to hold ministers to account. That should be the first port of call in circumstances where ministers might misbehave."

Tory MSP Derek Brownlee said: "Anything that gives more powers to MSPs to scrutinise ministers is a good thing."

However, James Mitchell, professor of politics at Strathclyde University, said that ministers came under too much scrutiny and warned against further restrictions.

He said: "Scottish ministers are not promoting any bold enough initiatives or policies as it is. We have not had leadership in the Scottish Executive but followership. Ministers are scrutinised more than they were in the past, and there is a vast array of scrutiny used through parliament from parliamentary questions and the committee system."

Anonymous said...

It looks like the Law Society have given up on regulation. Sooner your independent complaints commission comes in, the better for all of us.

I hope Turcan Connells clients are getting ripped off as much as possoble. Serves people right for using these wankers.

Whatever happened to the saying once bitten twice shy ?Why put trust in any Scottish lawyer ? Im bloody sure I wouldnt after reading this site.

Ron said...

I never thought lawyers could be so brutal to the public until I read your stuff.

Certainly sounds like you have been through a rough time of it with the Law Society.

I think your lawyer and accountant should have been sent to jail for what they did to you.

Anonymous said...

Looks like a good time to put out an advisory warning against corporate involvement with Scottish legal firms.

After all, if they are ripping off teir private clients, they will find it irresistible to rip off the corporate sector.

Anonymous said...

a lawyers favourite trick, ripping off an estate.Happens thousands of times a year in Scotland.Thats why lawyers are rich.Thieving bastards

Anonymous said...

Thank goodness some bloggers can still write. My thanks for this blog!