Hardly surprising after the article earlier this week, that the Law Society of Scotland would come out in force against the move by the Which? consumer organisation in making a "super complaint" to the Office of Fair Trading over the way the legal profession in Scotland control access to justice through their unbroken monopoly on legal services.
I reported on the Which? "super complaint here : Consumers call for OFT Inquiry to investigate restriction of legal services in Scotland
Fortunately for us, and the rest of Scotland, the Herald newspaper have continued with reporting the issue of poor regulatory & anti-client practices in the legal profession, and this latest revelation of the Which? involvement, coming after the expose of the lack of implementation of Sections 25-29 of the Law Reform (Misc Provisions) Act 1990, where legal services were in fact to be opened up to competition does show the scale of the problem of people who find themselves without access to legal representation - solely because of monopoly on access to legal services held by solicitors & advocates,.
This is all nothing to do with legal aid deserts, or lack of legal aid - as the legal profession would have us believe in many recent articles in the press .. it's more to do with a general lack of public access to justice & legal representation, simply because the legal profession doesn't really need to take on a case if doesn't feel like it, or perhaps, represent a client in what may well be dangerous case for the profession's overall interests .. such as say .. a negligence case against a crooked lawyer .. or a case of negligence or even a human rights abuse by a public body which is sympathetic to the legal profession or has similar regulatory practices ...
The Herald article goes on to report that : "Michael Clancy, the Law Society of Scotland's director of law reform, said it was disappointed that it had not been sent the complaint or had the opportunity to discuss concerns with Which? ..."
A good thing too ... Which? must have learned by now how the Law Society of Scotland stage manages news relating to it's activities & criticisms ... where, regrettably, in 'other' newspapers, Law Society sponsored freelance journalists write blatant propaganda for the legal profession .. with even a few lawyers posing as journalists, writing their profession's point of view as it if were a news item ! ... so well done to Which? ... OFT receives complaint before Law Society knew of it .. that's how it should be .. after all, what would the Law Society say ? something like their Press Release attached at the end of this article perhaps ?
Download a copy of the Which" "Super Complaint" here : Which? super-complaint on Scottish legal services (PDF: 220Kb)
You can also write to the OFT at the following address :
Office of Fair Trading
2-6 Salisbury Square
You may wish to tell of relevant experiences relating to problems with the legal profession & solicitors.. things like being blocked from taking a case against a crooked lawyer or other crooked professional .. having poor experiences with the Law Society of Scotland which led to lack of legal services and prejudice or discrimination from lawyers after you made a complaint .. things like that.
It's in your interests to contact the OFT direct, as you can be assured the Law Society of Scotland will be pressurising the OFT to drop any investigation .. despite all the evidence that indeed, in Scotland, access to legal services and access to justice is very restricted - due to the single market of legal services controlled by lawyers & advocates.
And finally, since it's the weekend .. the Law Society of Scotland have announced a conference on educating the best ways to go about fraud ... must be a lawyers dream to attend that one then !
The conference is laughably titled "The Many Faces of Fraud" and is being held at the Business Learning Conference Centre Dunfermline, Fife on Thursday 24th May 2007. The fee is £193.88 .. so you lawyers who read my blog and are interested in spotting more ways to engage in fraud, better overcharge a few clients to make sure you attend !
Without further ado, here is the Herald article ;
Lawyers reject Which? calls for OFT inquiry into affordable justice
LUCY ADAMS, Chief Reporter May 09 2007
Senior lawyers yesterday hit out at calls for the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) to investigate access to affordable justice in Scotland.
The move follows the revelation in The Herald that Which? the consumer charity, has sent the OFT a "super-complaint" urging it to address concerns that regulation of the legal profession in Scotland hinders market competition and restricts access to affordable legal representation.
The Law Society of Scotland and the Faculty of Advocates last night suggested the super-complaint was unnecessary and it would be better to discuss concerns with the groups involved. They fear that deregulation of the legal profession could erode consumer protection.
The Scottish Consumer Council last night backed the concerns of Which? and the need for an investigation.
Super-complaints can be made to the OFT when a designated consumer body thinks that a feature, or combination of features, of a market is, or appears to be, significantly harming consumers' interests.
The super-complaint comes ahead of reforms south of the border which will allow banks and supermarkets to join forces with legal firms and provide legal services, after a review by Sir David Clementi.
The Scottish Executive set up a working group on the legal services market north of the border which concluded that Scotland should not follow England and Wales.
Michael Clancy, the Law Society of Scotland's director of law reform, said it was disappointed that it had not been sent the complaint or had the opportunity to discuss concerns with Which? He said the working group had included representation from the OFT.
"The group examined the different legal services operating in Scotland, identified restrictions which might prevent, limit or distort competition and examined access to justice, public interest and consumer protection factors that might justify such restrictions," he said.
"The group also evaluated whether the restriction was proportionate. It concluded that overall the evidence backed the case for non-intervention, and assumed that market forces would keep supply and demand in balance.
"The report also concluded that the objectives of consumer protection and the administration of justice had to be balanced against those of competition."
A Faculty of Advocates spokesman said: "The structure of the legal profession in Scotland is likely to be addressed in the new parliamentary session following the report of the Scottish Executive Research Working Group on the provision of legal services published in May last year.
"The faculty would expect that the appropriate place for consideration of the structure of the legal profession in Scotland is within that legislative framework."
The Scottish Consumer Council believes there are "systematic problems in the way legal services are structured and regulated".
Douglas Sinclair, its chairman, said: "We believe that there is a strong case for opening up competition in the market for legal services in Scotland. Action by the OFT should help open up a market that has for too long neglected consumers and put the vested interests of lawyers first."
.. and now, the Law Society of Scotland Press Release - a somewhat comical account of access to justice in Scotland .. as long as it's in the interests of a lawyer to let you proceed, if not, it's back to the drawing board, lack of access to a lawyer, and as much prejudice & discrimination against your rights as you can handle (and some more) from a crooked legal profession bent on maintaining their business monopoly and power to decide who gets access to jutsice, and who does not.
Law Society of Scotland comments on "Super Complaint"
The Law Society of Scotland's director of law reform, Michael Clancy, commented:
"The Society has not been sent the complaint, but it is disappointing that
Which? has chosen this route to raise these issues instead of working with the Society to benefit the Scottish public.
The Scottish Executive has promised Scottish solutions to Scottish issues and the Law Society of Scotland, along with other stakeholders including the Scottish Consumer Council, the Office of Fair Trading and Citizens Advice Scotland, was represented on the Scottish Executive's Research Working Group on the legal services market in Scotland.
"The Group's report, issued in April 2006, is an extremely important one for the future of the Legal services market in Scotland.
"The group examined the different legal services operating in Scotland, identified restrictions which might prevent, limit or distort competition and examined access to justice, public interest and consumer protection factors that might justify such restrictions. The group also evaluated whether the restriction was proportionate. It concluded that overall the evidence backed the case of non-intervention, and assumed that market forces would keep supply and demand in balance.
"The report also concluded that the objectives of consumer protection and the administration of justice had to be balanced against those of competition.
"When it was published, we said we hoped that the Scottish Executive would see the merit in continuing the work of the Group and that Scottish Ministers would follow up on some of the issues raised.
"The Society followed this up at a meeting in January 2007 with the deputy Minister for Justice Johann Lamont MSP where we suggested that the Group be resurrected to address various issues about the legal services market."