Thursday, June 14, 2007

Levels of Lay Membership on new Scottish Legal Complaints Commission questioned as lawyers begin attempt to plant allies in positions

Even during this formation stage of the new Scottish Legal Complaints Commission, the likes of the Law Society of Scotland and the rest of the Scottish legal profession are certainly up to the mark on their dirty tricks campaign, this time, by 'putting the word out' to get friendly appointments to the "Lay Member" positions of the new independent SLCC, which will take the place of the Law Society of Scotland to independently manage, investigate & oversee the complaints process against crooked lawyers as mandated in the new Legal Profession & Legal Aid (Scotland) Act 2007

Allegations are circulating that ex-Committee members of the Law Society of Scotland have been 'encouraged' to put in applications to join the new SLCC as "Lay Members" .. and with the Law Society not obliged to disclose any records of individuals who have served in such a capacity .. or even be related to those who have .. it will be a tricky procedure to weed out the 'planted' friends of the legal profession who make it to the "Lay Member" positions on the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission.

There are further 'anomalies' which have crept into the "Lay Member" appointments process ... just take a look at this rather strange development ...

Compare the following, which comes from the report of the Justice 2 Committee itself at the Scottish Parliament, proposing a "majority of SLCC will be lay persons appointed by Scottish Ministers unlike the comparator professions examined where professionals are in the majority "

http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/business/committees/justice2/reports-06/j2r06-11-Vol01-03.htm

It is proposed that a majority of SLCC will be lay persons appointed by Scottish Ministers, unlike the comparator professions examined where professionals are in the majority."

with this, which comes from the recruitment advertisement from the Scottish Executive itself :

http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/Government/public-bodies/SLCC-Members-06Jun07

Scottish Ministers require to appoint a Chairing Member and eight other Members, four of whom must be lawyers, to the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission (SLCC) in consultation with the Lord President of the Court of Session.

Something very strange going on here then ... because a Committee stuffed by four lawyers, doesn't really meet up to the spirit of "a majority of lay persons", as mentioned in the Justice 2 Committee report ... where proposals seem to have been for two lawyer members rather than the now four ... where did the other two lawyer members come from ? .. lobbying from the legal profession ?

In fact, this ratio of lay members to lawyers, albeit as proposed in the new SLCC Committee, having a Chairing member who is not a lawyer, but paradoxically whose appointment is agreed to by the oh-so-impartial Lord President ... is getting near to the set up of the Complaints Committee framework of the Law Society of Scotland .. which itself has allowed swathes of crooked lawyers to go unpunished, ripping off everyone in sight and yet being allowed to continue in practice, giving some publicised examples from 5000 complaints a year against crooked lawyers in Scotland such as the following :

EXCLUSIVE : LAWYER SUED FOR £1MILLION & REVEALED: TOP LAWYER AT THE CENTRE OF 12 NEGLIGENCE CLAIMS &
Law Society of Scotland rejects complaint over estate ruined by huge legal fees & Scottish Legal Awards - Lawyer Lawyer on the wall, who is the most crooked of us all ? & Lawyer caught in media sting bribing clients to defraud Legal Aid Board - the tip of an iceberg .. to name but a few ...

There is of course, a problem with the Lay Member circuit - with many people on this cirtuit making it an industry for themselves to get placed on as many Committees as possible, and I covered these very dangerous revelations here :

Restrictions required on the interests of lay members in the world of self regulation Restrictions required on the interests of lay members in the world of self regulation

and as luck would have it, a demonstration of just how many of the various profession's corrupt self regulators are linked, the Herald newspaper revealed that ICAS, the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland, were stuffing their own Committees with lawyers on the somewhat unbelievable argument of 'ensuring public interest'

I covered the revelations on the Committee placement tactics of the accountancy profession here : Fears over corrupt self regulation as accountants regulator draft in ex Law Society President and solicitor as Public Interest members.

Another excerpt from the Justice 2 Committee report tells us :

"While one can trust OCPAS to ensure that due process is observed, there is a prior issue as to how lay members emerge in the first place, newspaper advertisements seeming to be the usual method. The task is one of encouraging a wide and diverse range of people who do not have particular axes to grind. "

What & who exactly is that 'wide and diverse range of people who do not have particular axes to grind" ?

I hope we aren't going to get friends or relatives of those who serve on other Committees as so called "Lay Members" .. .or indeed, ex lay members of other regulatory Committees or those who have served the legal profession placed as lay members on the new SLCC .. .because if so, what justice will that bring ? .. none.

I think it's time the new Scottish Executive looked at the framework for these Committees and particularly the appointments of lay members, who you can see, certainly seem to proliferate themselves onto as many positions as possible - amazingly without the issues of conflict of interest ever cropping up - where in any other walk of life, it certainly would.

How about having actual victims of injustice on these Committees as lay members - or at least as oversight members, to ensure the voice of the public and the very victims themselves is heard over those of people who would rather appease their friends in the professions and pick up a few awards & decorations for doing so over the years.

I say - reduce the lawyer membership to two .. we don't need four bullying lawyers lobbying for their colleagues in the legal profession on the Committee of the new independent Scottish Legal Complaints Commission, just as they have done so for all those years at the Law Society of Scotland ...

Here is the recruiting advertisement for the lay member positions of the new Scottish Legal Complaints Commission.

If you have had bad experience at the hands of the Law Society of Scotland and crooked lawyers, maybe you should put in an application to join ! ... or at least write to the new Scottish Executive asking that the process be a lot more transparent than it seems to be at the moment.

http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/Government/public-bodies/SLCC-Members-06Jun07

SCOTTISH LEGAL COMPLAINTS COMMISSION (SLCC) - APPOINTMENT OF CHAIRING MEMBER AND MEMBERS

Scottish Ministers require to appoint a Chairing Member and eight other Members, four of whom must be lawyers, to the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission (SLCC) in consultation with the Lord President of the Court of Session.

The SLCC will be established by the Legal Profession and Legal Aid (Scotland) Act 2007. The main functions of the Commission are to resolve complaints alleging inadequate professional service or negligence, to refer complaints which allege professional misconduct or unsatisfactory professional conduct to the relevant professional body and to promote good practice in complaints handling.

Scottish Ministers expect the Commission to be operational in late 2008 and the appointment of the Commission members will be made in Autumn 2007.

Remuneration: £298 per day for the Chairing Member.

£202 per day for the position of Member.

Travel and subsistence costs and reasonable receipted childcare and dependent carer expenses directly related to the Commission's work will be reimbursed. Any pension provision will be a matter for the Commission itself to determine with the approval of the Scottish Ministers.

Time commitment: Initially 4-6 days a month for the Chairing Member while the Commission is being established. This may reduce when the Commission is in full operation. Other Members are likely to serve up to 4 days a month.

Location of meetings: Normally at the Commission, the location of which will be decided by Scottish Ministers.

Chairing Member

The Chairing Member will be appointed for 5 years and can not be a lawyer. Under statute, appointments are not renewable on expiry. The Scottish Ministers seek to appoint a Chairing Member who has a successful track record in leading the strategic development of an organisation (in the pubic, private or voluntary sectors), and would particularly welcome applicants with skills and knowledge of setting up and leading a new organisation or leading an established organisation through a substantial change programme. Applicants for Chairing Member should also meet the criteria set out below for non-lawyer Members and the general criteria.

Lawyer Members

Two Lawyer Members will be appointed for 4 years and two for 6 years in order to ensure that new appointments are staggered. Under statute, appointments are not renewable on expiry.

The Lawyer Members must be either a solicitor, advocate or conveyancing or executry practitioner or have acquired rights to conduct litigation or a right of audience by virtue of section 27 of the Law Reform (Miscellaneous Provisions) (Scotland) Act 1990. Three Lawyer Members must have practised in one of these categories, or any combination of them. One Lawyer Member must fall into the specified categories but need not have actively practised. In selecting Members, particularly but not exclusively Lawyer Members, the Scottish Ministers are to have regard to the desirability of including:

* Persons who have experience of, and have shown capacity in, the practice and provision of legal education and training;
* Persons who have experience of, and have shown capacity in
* (a) civil or criminal proceedings;
* (b) court procedures and practice generally;
* (c) the practice and provision of other legal services;
* (d) the monitoring of legal services.

Non-lawyer Members

Two non-lawyer Members will be appointed for 4 years and two for 6 years in order to ensure that new appointments are staggered. Under statute, appointments are not renewable on expiry.

There are no specific qualifications for appointment of non-lawyer Members. In appointing Members, the Scottish Ministers are to have regard to the desirability of including:

* Persons who have experience of and have shown capacity in
* (a) consumer affairs or complaints handling;
* (b) the provision of advice to members of the public on or in relation to such matters.

General criteria

In addition, the Scottish Ministers will have regard to the desirability of including Members, whether lawyers or not, who together have sufficient knowledge at senior level of corporate governance. The Scottish Ministers will seek to select a balanced Commission, offering collectively, skills and knowledge in human resources, finance and information technology, change management, diversity issues, and customer service.

For an information pack and application form please see the contact details below. Application packs are available in alternative formats on request. You should provide your name, address and the vacancy that you are interested in.

Public Appointments, PO Box 26867, Glasgow G4 7BG

Telephone: 0870 240 1818

Fax: 0870 600 4111

E-mail: publicappointments@response-handling.com

SMS text message: 0796 013 3181

Closing date for applications is 6th July 2007.

Appointments to the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission are regulated by the Office of the Commissioner for Public Appointments in Scotland. All applicants must complete and submit the application form contained in the application pack in order for it to be considered for appointment. Please note that application forms sent electronically will be in Word format and, if returning electronically, will only be accepted in that format.

The Scottish Executive is committed to equality of opportunity and encouraging a diverse range of applicants for public appointments, reflecting the best of contemporary Scotland and to the principle of public appointments on merit with independent assessment, openness and transparency of process. For more information about public appointments and other vacancies visit the Scottish Executive's website at http://www.scotland.gov.uk/government/publicbodies.

oh .. and if to emphasise the Law Society of Scotland and Scottish Solicitors Discipline Tribunal are still letting crooked lawyers off the hook and able to continue making money from unsuspecting clients .. here's another recent article from the Sunday Mail :

LAWYER GUILTY : Watchdogs say he sold homes for drug accused But he escapes with £5k fine and dodges ban
By Russell Findlay

A LAWYER has been rapped for helping an alleged drug-dealer sell three homes before they could be seized by Customs in a dirty money probe.

Legal watchdogs found Robert Thomas guilty of professional misconduct for disposing of property owned by Michael Beacom.

But the dodgy brief escaped with a £5000 fine and still works as a solicitor.

A damning finding by the Scottish Solicitors' Discipline Tribunal states: "The tribunal considered that a solicitor in these circumstances must have thought that what he was being asked to do was attempting to assist someone in the commission of a crime.

"The tribunal considered that this was a grave offence in that the respondent proceeded either with the knowledge of what he was doing or with recklessness.

"For a solicitor to attempt to assist a client to commit a criminal offence is extremely reprehensible conduct."

Beacom was jailed for six years over a cannabis haul seized by Customs, though the conviction was later quashed.

Before his trial, Customs investigators visited Thomas, 58, with a court order demanding access to his client's files.

The order was designed to prevent solicitors disposing of a criminal's assets which could be seized.

But when Customs returned to Thomas' old firm, Robert Thomas &Caplan, they found a flat in Argyle Street, Glasgow, had been sold.

And a cottage near Helensburgh and a share of a flat in Glasgow's west end had been transferred to Beacom's brother.

The lawyer's actions led to him facing trial on money laundering charges four years ago.

During the trial, Bruce Ritchie, director of professional practice for the Law Society, said: "He should not have acted in the details of any property disposition for this client.

"My professional opinion would have been not to have touched this case. He should have known better."

Sheriff Rita Rae ruled there was not enough evidence and threw the case out.

Law Society chiefs launched their own probe but despite finding Thomas guilty of helping dispose of criminal assets, the tribunal did not have him struck off.

Instead he was fined £5000 and ordered to have his worked supervised by his employers until 2011.

Thomas, now working for Campbell Sievewright & Co in Glasgow, last night refused to comment.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

Peter

A majority of 1 is all it takes to give a complainer a fair hearing but I agree this all goes against what you campaigned for in the LPLA Act.

Reduce the lawyers to 2 on the Committee for the sake of peace of mind Mr Salmond.

Anonymous said...

Back with a bang I see, and yet only a few days ago a certain nutcase at the Law Society said he was going "to fix you for good"

Go get them Pete !

Bert said...

What a bloody rotten set up dreamed up by the lawyers ?

I will write to the Scottish executive about it too.A bloody disgrace that lawyers are being allowed to even sit on this.

Anonymous said...

The hootsmon is so bad this week I've hardly seen you comment.Still you have a nice blog and keep chipping away at those crooks.And what crooks they are !

Anonymous said...

Yes I agree. About time these Committees and all their appointments were opened up to scrutiny rather than allowing the likes of crooked lawyers and their friends to plant friends & colleagues on them like you say.

Anonymous said...

Apply for one of the positions yourself Peter, if you get on it you will have to shut up about crooked lawyers finally so we can all get some peace !

marcus said...

This committee is a fit up and must be stopped.Who the hell is the Lord President anyway and what is he doing having a role in an independent investigation panel against lawyers ? Isn't he a lawyer himself ?

bingo said...

Take an axe to the whole complaints thing with lawyers and stop them having any involvement in it.Lawyers look after their own colleagues so they shouldlnt be allowed to sit on this new committee.How independent is it when there are lawyers on it ? not very independent

fiddlerontheroof said...

agree with everyone else, expose this so called independent committee for what its going to be - a stitch up by the bloody lawyers again

go for them Peter and make sure this is sorted

Anonymous said...

An excellent indictment on the Scottish legal system and its lawyers.Fantastic work Mr Cherbi you should be appointed to the new slcc to make sure it does what its supposed to do rather than be manipulated by the crooked lawyers.

Poirot said...

Good work on exposing this Peter, I see the newspapers weren't brave enough to cover it yet but you should read today's Scotsman for some interesting 'responses' from our new Justice Secretary.

Peter Cherbi said...

Anonymous said "That was the weakest lily-livered response to a post I've ever seen. You will recall my post said that your ire against the Law Society was because in truth you had been rumbled as the causer of abuse to you mother - both physically and mentally - and you, over the years have sought to blame everyone else for that abuse, other than yourself for that abuse. So go on Cherbi post my messages in full and respond! Or are you chicken than your merry band of readers will learn the truth about you!!"

The above post came in from an "anonymous" supporter of Andrew Penman, Norman Howitt and the several other lawyers over the years who have profited by ripping off my family and ruining my life. You can tell I have obviously upset someone who has profited from my injustice then ....

I am indeed happy to print your bile and hatred of my exposing of those crooks you admire, as it shows the depths of hatred those who seek to cover up injustice go to, to protect their crimes and their colleagues. But I ask, why hide behind the cloak of anonymity in your accusations ? or are you too "lily-livered" yourself like those crooks you so ovciously support ?

I remember well the cover story invented by Norman Howitt & friends to cover up their deeds, of forcing my mother to sign over her assets, of forcing my mother, with menaces, to give them her pension & bank books - but which in reality were bled dry by those very same people. I remember well the same cover story used to try and force my mother to hand over all her assets to Norman Howitt, even paying him for doing so .. and I remember well the same cover story used by Nigel Hall, my mother's then Hawick lawyer with apparently a history of problems himself to seek to hand over wast amounts of money to people connected with fleecing my mother ... The evidence at hand I have covered in many articles on my blog ... and has obviously stirred up many problems since it cannot be denied.

As for abusing my mother, an allegation I'm sure she would respond quite strongly to, if she were still alive, I can only say that reflected in your words, seems to be the very symptoms of abuse you accuse others of .. perhaps you are an experienced abuser and seek to transfer your obvious hatred of yourself, or those you abuse, onto people who expose crooks for what they are....

Indeed, Mr Penman used this same cover story as part of the plan to get him off the hook from my complaints - fortunately for me, the Scotsman newspaper covered the whole thing, as my readers can see from this story where it was revealed that a senior member of the Law Society of Scotland, James Ness, had acted for Mr Penman before the Complaints Committee and spat the same bile & hatred to get him off the hook.

A Reprint of the Scotsman Report on this very matter is here :
http://www.flickr.com/photo_zoom.gne?id=349173066&context=set-72157594551333786&size=l

I am no stranger to threats & accusations of this nature - actually, many campaigners against injustice get the same. Constantly I hear of cases where lies & allegations are made against people by lawyers, or their friends, to wipe out complaints & credibility, but this will not work on me.

Incidentally the Scotsman journalists also spoke to my mother, as did a few other journalists at the time, some of whom knew my mum very well and there was certainly never any abuse in my family, thankfully - so plenty witnesses and plenty people who have suffered just as badly at the hands of those who lie & make such nasty comments as your anonymous self.