Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Justice Secretary - Scotland owes lawyers 'immense debt' while standards of service remain at all time low

For a profession which generates some 5000 plus client complaints a year, many of them involving serious complex frauds against clients, which result in no action against guilty lawyers after clients are forced through the Law Society of Scotland's prejudiced complaints process, Scotland's Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill certainly has a soft focus view of his colleagues, when he claims in a Scotsman article :

"SCOTLAND owes an immense debt to its legal profession which has helped people at times of crisis, protecting the rights of the vulnerable and supporting business and economic growth."

Mr MacAskill has used the theme of legal aid, to shower praise on the legal profession and his former colleagues ... but is such blinkered public admiration of Scotland's ranks of solicitors a wise move for the Cabinet Secretary for Justice, himself, a former lawyer, but who now, as a Government Minister, must surely serve the people, and not the professions ?

Does Scotland owe any 'immense debt' to a legal profession ?

Lets examine whether there is a debt owed by us mere ordinary people, to the vast army of lawyers in Scotland today ...

In Scotland, we have a legal profession, currently managed & regulated by itself, which has seen the likes of :

Solicitors protecting themselves at all costs against accusations of wrongdoing, covering up complaints & scandals against colleagues

Solicitors ruining client after client who dared take issue with lawyers poor standards of service

Regular interference from the Law Society in court cases & client claims against corrupt solicitors

Solicitors found to be bribing clients to sign legal aid forms

Solicitors found to be smuggling drugs into prisons for clients

Solicitors with political interests stealing from disabled clients

Solicitors caught & jailed for sexual abuse of children

Solicitors allegedly hiring hitmen to attack & kill professional colleagues involved in the regulation of finance & complaints

Solicitors found to be ruining deceased clients wills in a common fraudulent practice

Solicitors with the worst standards possible, some facing as many as 21 negligence claims from clients, with complaint after complaint covered up by the Law Society of Scotland

The most senior Law Society figures threatening the Parliament & Executive with legal action over proposed independent regulation of lawyers

Legal firms with political influence in Government campaign against improvements in law such as a rise in small claims

Members of the Judiciary interfering in the course of implementation of law, preventing wider access to justice

and, has seen the Scottish Executive unmasked as a protector of the legal profession from clients ruined by solicitors, and complaints covered up to the most senior level

the list, not a pretty one, goes on ....

What does Scotland owe such a legal profession Mr MacAskill ?

The answer, at least to my way of thinking is that Scotland owes lawyers and the legal profession nothing, nothing at all. The good which lawyers do in Scotland, is outweighed by the bad. To remedy that, the bad has to be eliminated. You, Mr MacAskill do not seem to understand that at all but Scotland needs an effective, unprejudiced, accountable & transparent legal profession, and somehow, someway, we have to have this 'immense change' take place ...

Why should Scotland owe lawyers an "immense debt" ?, when the legal profession performs as poorly as it does, under the administration of itself, with Government seemingly standing by the sidelines, turning a blind eye to the way it covers up for its own against clients who are abandoned when things go wrong.

This scenario shouldn't be the case though, should it, Mr MacAskill. Lawyers, should, actually, be respected. Lawyers do perform a valuable service, when they serve their client properly but when they don't serve their client's interests properly, when they get greedy, or decide to cover up their negligent or even criminal actions against clients, and then get away with it, lawyers undermine society and the system of values most people expect them to have.

If the legal profession wants to be respected, they have to first earn respect.

To be respected, lawyers should be honest, accountable, of the highest standard, and forthright in their determination to offer legal services to anyone - without prejudice to a client and without prejudice to the subject of the case, even if it be prosecuting a colleague from the legal profession or taking a case against Government. If a lawyer knows something is wrong, they have to stand up for what is right.

Is that so much to ask for or to expect ?

You yourself were a lawyer, Mr MacAskill, you should know that when people trust you with their legal affairs, they expect the highest standard of service, with a guarantee that if things go wrong, it will be put right. We as clients have every expectation of such, but in reality, no receipt of such from the legal profession today in Scotland ...

Kenny MacAskill ends his article in the Scotsman by saying

"Our legal system must adapt to a changing world, but maintain the values that underpin it."

Yes, our legal system must adapt to a changing world - where injustice and corruption, and the 'witness & do nothing about it' policy of the Scottish Government must also adapt to being no longer acceptable ... but 'maintaining the values that underpin it' (the legal profession) - please, Mr MacAskill - the Scottish legal profession in it's present form do not have much room to speak of 'values', as you well know.

Mr MacAskill, if you want to give the legal profession a level of respect, give it a fully independent regulatory body to investigate any & all forms of client complaints including service & conduct issues against solicitors, powers to handle disciplinary matters & prosecutions, powers to compensate clients fully without the need to go to court, and, of course, powers to ensure the highest possible standards of service & conduct attainable - values which the Law Society of Scotland has never been able to achieve in its entire history. Now, that, will generate some respect.

Is it not the case it is actually the legal profession which owes Scotland ? After all, it is Scotland and it's people, who are the legal profession's paying customers, both private & corporate, who expect high standards and decent legal services, but do not receive anything near a decent standard of service.

Scotland SHOULD owe the legal profession a debt of gratitude, if it were managed correctly, had the highest of standards of service, conduct, client protection, and satisfaction. Until we get those values however, Scotland owes lawyers nothing - they have to prove we do, and lawyers can start that process by cleaning up their act and cleaning up their sins of the past ...

If, Mr Justice Secretary, you do all that, and open up the legal services market as the OFT recommends, you will attain your stated goal of ensuring that legal aid works both efficiently and effectively - while also ensuring access to justice for all .. not just for some ...

Kenny MacAskill writes in the Scotsman :

'We must all strive to make sure that legal aid works both efficiently and effectively'


SCOTLAND owes an immense debt to its legal profession which has helped people at times of crisis, protecting the rights of the vulnerable and supporting business and economic growth.

As cabinet secretary for justice, I want the profession to flourish and to compete in the modern world. That means adapting just like any other profession or business to the changes and challenges which the modern world throws up.

So what does that commitment to the profession mean in terms of the Scottish Government's position on legal aid? My aim is a simple one: to ensure that lawyers get paid appropriately and fairly for the work they do for people who would not otherwise be able to afford such help. That is why I announced a substantial increase in fees for those who represent accused persons in solemn cases, linked to reforms which will finally settle several years of negotiation. I will be announcing further increases to civil fees soon.

Expert advice from qualified professionals does not come cheaply, however, and we need to ask how we can continue to ensure fair reward for practitioners and fair access for the public without large increases in public expenditure.

This is not just another plea for savings and efficiency. The unavoidable fact is that there is no scope for substantial increases in legal aid spending in the near future. Any increases will only be affordable if savings elsewhere in the system release funds.

We must all strive to make sure that legal aid works efficiently and effectively. For government, that means not introducing change for its own sake. It means reducing bureaucracy and making processes simpler and clearer. It also means we may have to face some difficult decisions in the future about what legal aid should be for. The world has changed considerably since the legal aid system was introduced nearly 60 years ago.

We cannot and should not expect the courts to solve every problem or the state to fund everyone's legal representation in every dispute or difficulty. Such a view simply isn't going to be sustainable in the future. At the same time, legal aid lawyers need to be able to continue to do the vital work that they do and to be paid fairly for it.

For the profession it means working in a legal aid system which supports efficient judicial processes following the Bonomy and McInnes reforms, and those which will follow Lord Gill's current review of civil courts.

I want to think carefully about how judicial structures will look in the light of Lord Gill's review. It would not be appropriate to make radical changes to civil legal aid before Lord Gill reports but that doesn't mean that we sit on our hands until the spring of 2009; we need to develop our thinking while the review is going on.

Legal aid should be about paying people properly for work they need to do, stripping out wasteful process and getting cases dealt with at the right level. It should be about focusing on what work justifies expert legal involvement at public expense and being prepared to consider alternative ways of funding or providing help in less complex cases.

We also need to think about whether more types of legal problems can be dealt with effectively outwith the court system. If that helps improve efficiency and helps people get their problems resolved quickly, we should be prepared to consider it.

Our legal system must adapt to a changing world, but maintain the values that underpin it.

• Kenny MacAskill is Scotland's justice secretary.


Anonymous said...

When you put it like that, MacAskill is way out of line in what he said.

Here's one anyway who wont be owing lawyers anything.Cheers !

Al said...

“the list, not a pretty one, goes on .... ”

Yeh, Peter, it certainly does. And I’m sure you could have added a lot more to that list of 14 examples of our Scottish legal “profession’s” absolute (non) probity and accountability at its very best.

I’m also sure MacAskill will be very pleased to read that damning indictment of HIS legal “profession” that we, the ordinary people of Scotland, “owe an immense debt to” … NOT!

In the 6 months since this Cabinet Secretary FOR (IN)JUSTICE has been in charge, he has done absolutely nothing for the many ordinary people who have been the victims of his great Scottish legal profession and (in)justice system … many people suffering terribly, lives often ruined, as a result. But he has done, and will continue to do, everything for his best pals at The Star Chamber in Drumsheugh Gardens, the Law Society’s HQ in Edinburgh.

This man will do nothing for ordinary citizens and, quite simply, is a fraudster.

How to oust this crook and enemy of the people, that is now the question? Anyone got any juicy background info on this menace and charlatan?

Get rid of him, his boss and the SNP people of Scotland. They will do nothing for you if you have been a victim of injustice, as the links below testify.

Oh, and talking of lists Peter: Does Kenny “No Justice” MacAskill have your address to send the Christmas card to? I’m sure you and I must be top of his (hit) list!





lost said...

well you certainly made a fool of MacAskill with this post

what next ? shall we be awarding rapists the keys to the city ? oh no sorry, the lawyers get those too !

Anonymous said...

Read your comments on the lawyers getting beaten up in Pakistan story with a wry smile.Scotsman seems to have pulled someone elses comments in the story though.Who was it ?

Anyway good luck to the Pakistanis and Musharraf for giving those bastard lawyers a good seeing to.I wonder if there is any chance he could be made First Minister to save Scotland from these thieving scum lawyer robbers ?!!!

A.VOTER said...

Having voted SNP since 97 I thought we would be in for a bit of a change but now its turning into more of the usual.
As for Kenny MacAskill handling the Justice portfolio,I don't think he is suited at all to it,even less so after reading his story from the Scotsman and comparing it to your commentary.
Nicky Sturgeon should take over and clear up the mess.

To Mr MacAskill if he is reading.
Please, no more praise for lawyers.You might think the world of your colleagues but most of Scotland does not and we don't need to have your own view rammed down our throats as gospel in the newspapers.
Most people like myself have a healthy loathing for the legal profession and as Mr Cherbi points out,that loathing is well deserved.

Anonymous said...

SNP admire the likes of Julian Danksin then ? Fuck!! What next ? Hand over our kids for abuse ?

Where is the long arm of wee eck when its needed ?

Anonymous said...

wish you would disable comment moderation so we could have a real debate about it although i appreciate you will get some who go ott

anyway great story and i saw all your stuff in the scotsman.good to see we have people exposing the failing of law and all this corruption.

i bet macaskill is doing his nut over marvellous take down of his fawning admiration for lawyers !

Anonymous said...

This is what happens when a lawyer is put in charge of Justice.Idiotic to say the least.

Agree with everyone else too especially 'al' but I dont think MacAskill will send Cherbi a Christmas card,more like a letter bomb.

Anonymous said...

What a shame I was hoping to see some of the SNP trolls supporting their lord & master but I suppose even they cant stomach supporting a lawyer supporting lawyers !
Ye gods !

i eat bacon said...

You completely missed it,or did you ?

The Scotsman let him write his own story because they knew he would inflame everyone and fuck it up.

Good on you Scotsman and I suspect Cherbi knew about it before it came out anyway.Shows up the SNP for what they are and certainly shows Macaskill as a lawyer lovin nutcase not up to the job.

Anonymous said...

Bad piece from MacAskill in the Scotsman.He should know better.Good piece from you and up to the mark on all those links I see.Very good.Very shameful for the SNP to be putting out the lawyers line these days.

Anonymous said...

okay Kenny did put his foot in it with this.Salmond should slap him around a bit to put things right.

Anonymous said...

rocking the boat Peter? good good we need more of you kind in Scotland rock it some more please

Anonymous said...

ill chosen words from the Justice Secretary on legal aid.If he's so keen to make the system work he should get back into practice and see how long he survives on legal aid clients.

Plod said...

I can understand why you reported it this way.MacAskill's comments are far from impartial and almost appear as if written by the Law Society,who are the only ones these days who come out with such shameless self promotion.

Anonymous said...

Fantastic blog Mr Cherbi and sorry to hear of all those problems with lawyers in Scotland.I think you need to start a movement to eject them from controlling public life as it seems they do - particularly with Mr MacAskill.

Mr MacAskill's strings are still being pulled by his lawyer friends ?

Anonymous said...

If MacAskill is so content to lavish praise on lawyers and give them millions of taxpayers money then you should sue him and the Scottish Government for doing bugger all about all these problems with lawyers and especially your own case Peter.You wont get anywhere with the lawyers but you should sue the hell out of Kenny & Co for allowing all this to take place and the same goes for anyone else who has a problem with lawyers.Make it a MacAskill and Salmond problem.

iLife said...

Just terrible to see the SNP caught on this.I had hoped for better but they are getting as bad as the rest or WORSE.

If they do put all this right you will have to eat your words though !

Anonymous said...

You should have titled this posting "The co-opting of Kenny MacAskill by the legal profession".Otherwise, a very good report on the state of justice in Scotland.
If I were a company boss,I think I would have to take my business elsewhere.Scotland seems hard to trust as a brand or a place to trade when things are as bad as this.

Anonymous said...

I just read the best comment in the Scotsman from you for awhile.If you mean what you say,a few solicitors should get together with you and talk.

65. Peter Cherbi, Edinburgh / 1:07pm 8 Nov 2007

#33. C. Mantic, Edinburgh

I agree mostly with what you say.

However, the Law Society does protect a few lawyers from time to time, it just depends who they are, and what influence they hold, particularly within the Law Society committee structure.

I think the problem is the Law Society gets away with treating solicitors and clients bad, because solicitors and clients allow it to.

Ultimately it's up to the membership to stand up to the Law Society and do something about it. Currently, solicitors don't even have much of a vote on how policy is formed at the Law Society or any influence on the antics of it's senior members of staff on policy decisions which affect the entire profession.

If there were enough brave solicitors with standing in the profession who were able to see this, get together with clients and resolve the difficulties the Law Society has landed the legal profession in these days - a lot could be achieved which would never be able to come out of Drumsheugh Gardens.

Solicitors need clients. Clients need solicitors. The only thing standing in the way of that, and a decent trustworthy relationship between the two, along with accountability, transparency & a decent standard of legal services, is the Law Society of Scotland which is and has been for a long time now, 'unfit for purpose'.

Anonymous said...

The 4.54am idea sounds good.Sue the hell out of the Scottish Government and SNP over injustice.They are in charge now so its their responsibility what goes off so take them on and clean them out.Everyone should catch onto that idea whether they can get a lawyer or not.Time for closure on this Peter - you have been at it for long enough.

Peter Cherbi said...

#AL @ 12.54pm

Kenny MacAskill has to be Justice Secretary for us all, not just his friends in the legal profession.

I am all for exposure of those who knowingly allow injustice to take place and do nothing about it.

While giving praise to his professional colleagues, he should spare a moment, and a comment for those who elect him and those who are victims of the Justice system he is supposed to be there to manage, and take responsibility for as others are pointing out.

#A.Voter @ 2.18pm

I don't believe Nicola Sturgeon could take over the position, nor do I believe anything more could be achieved by it.Clearly Mr MacAskill and the SNP are having to appease the legal profession for now.

#Anonymous @ 4.18pm

If you are referring to Alex Salmond, try writing to him and see where it gets you ...

#Anonymous @ 6.57pm

There aren't as many as it appears on some of the newspapers comments boards I hear ...

#Anonymous @ 4.54am

Yes, that is a good idea, and I see further comments have agreed with it, but there is also the problem of access to justice, and to sue the Scottish Government one needs legal representation.

What do you do when the legal profession ensure you can't get access to justice ? Mr MacAskill knows that very well - he was/is a lawyer.

@Anonymous @ 12.12pm

Scotland isn't such a bad place to do business, you just have to be very very careful, especially when you are dealing with the legal profession. Famous names of legal firms and claimed histories of client satisfaction mean nothing and are usually unsubstantiated, or false.

#Anonymous @ 3.00pm

Yes, but who will make the first move from the legal profession ? Clients have been asking for this for years, and no one has dared come forward for fear of losing their practising certificate and lifestyle ...

#Anonymous @ 3.34pm

Yes, I agree. The SNP are in charge now so they should be made to take responsibility.

dilligent but often referred to as dillinger ! said...

You are calling for an end to the Law Society of Scotland ?

What would you replace it with ?

G. MacDonald said...

I too agree that anyone who feels they have been let down by the Law Society should sue the Scottish Government.It has only been because politicians and the Government have stood idly by while lawyers covered up for lawyers they have got away with it for so long.Kenny MacAskill and Alex Salmond are now in Government so its their responsibility and they need to take a big fall for this.

How crooked it would be even more if the courts tried to clear them after all this time and all these cases.There must be a guilty verdict and they must be made to pay up so it never happens again.

Good luck Mr Cherbi and all those who are similarly hard done by lawyers.

Anonymous said...

Good work Peter.I heard yesterday your name mentioned from a person who now thinks twice about their lawyer.I wouldn't be surprised if you find yourself with a big file shortly as a lot of money has gone missing along with the lawyers spanish holiday houses.

keep up the good work

Anonymous said...

I've heard plenty about the Cherbi too including that the Law Society and numpties over at the Scottish Executive demanded he be kept away from the SLCC due to having too much experience on how crooked lawyers can be.

? said...

I wouldn't pay too much attention to Kenny MacAskill lavishing praise on his lawyer colleagues.He has a few dark secrets which will come back to bite him soon enough.Besides,his staff are slagging him off any chance they get - apparently they hate his guts !

On that note,have a good weekend Peter and your readers.

There'll always be an England. said...

I am not surprised to read that last comment.A friend I know who worked at Victoria Quay told me the SNP are a bunch of amateurs in Government.Scotland is going to get a good kicking from it's own.I hope it learns you all a lesson.

Anonymous said...

Did Kenny get a big fat brown envelope from the lawyers for coming up with this piece of crap?

I wholeheartedly agree with you on this Mr Cherbi.We need an impartial Justice Secretary.Kenny MacAskill is too close to the legal profession to be of any use to anyone other than his buddies and that cannot be allowed.

Anonymous said...

# ? @ 6.52pm said:

"He [MacAskill] has a few dark secrets which will come back to bite him soon enough."

Oh goody ... the sooner the better for all our sakes!

Anything to do with when he was a practising lawyer by chance? Or perhaps something even more sinister and criminal that he, his SNP colleagues and his equally crooked boss are keeping well hidden from the people of Scotland and the UK?

"It's time" ... that MacAskill, Salmond and this corrupt and unaccountable SNP (non)"Government" were fully exposed for being the self-serving, lying swine they really are...

Anonymous said...

agree with others - SNP cant be trusted on justice.

Derek W, Edinburgh said...

I like that list of stories on lawyers.

Who would want to use any of them after reading that lot !

keep up the good work Peter

Anonymous said...

Some good comments on this blog and plenty resentment of the SNP for giving the lawyers what they want.

The anonymous commenter who says that "We need an impartial Justice Secretary" hits it right on the head.

Why allow a lawyer to be Justice Secretary when a General would never be allowed to be Defence Minister in a civilian government.

We have allowed professions and their kind too close links to government and Mr MacAskill as Justice Secretary demonstrates all that is bad - listening to his colleagues and ignoring their victims as Mr Cherbi puts it quite well.

We have all in some way or another been maligned by the legal system and Alex Salmond needs to address these issues as well as getting himself a new Justice Secretary devoid of any conflict of interest.

I wonder who could fulfil that role in the SNP?

Kick MacAskill out said...

# Anonymous @ 3.11am

Salmond will not ditch MacAskill. End of! He is here to stay ... unless someone can dish out some real dirt on this scumbag and kill him off once and for all.

Would suggest that his practices when a lawyer may be a good place to start fishing ... or stuff he did as a constituency MSP, in his first term of office especially.

From what i can gather, the man is as bent as they get and all protective of those in the Edinburgh and Scottish establishment ... even if it means covering up very serious wrong-doing by his cronies in that establishment. The guy is simply a slimeball and is not fit to hold the office he does.

Reckon he knows too much about Salmond's crooked ways as well for Salmond to be able to kick him out.

I'm afraid the people of Scotland will just have to live with a "Justice" Secretary who is all for his legal professon (c.10,000) and not for the mugs who elected him in the first place, and the rest of Scotland's citizens (c.4,990,000).

Add to this nightmare scenario the fact that these two impostors kept on a crooked Lord Advocate from hell (Elish Angiolini) and it really does not bode well for the many ordinary folk out there who are battling against injustice.

As a poster on another forum put it, the only way forward now is to organize a march on these fuckers and let them know that all this corruption and injustice at their murky hands, under their rule, has got to STOP ... NOW!

Wise up people of Scotland and make your voices heard against all this injustice under the corrupt rule of the SNP ... cause if you don't, you'll have more of the same till the next Scottish elections in May 2011 ... and only have yourselves to blame.


M.Braithwaite said...

I don't think its necessarily wrong to have a lawyer (ex lawyer) in the case of K MacAskill in the Justice portfolio but when you have all these problems with lawyers as you have in Scotland, questions will arise such as has the person been an 'ex' lawyer long enough to be impartial in his representation of law and justice issues for both the public and his 'ex' colleagues.

I'm not sure anyone can be an "ex" lawyer,can they ? It seems they always keep up their membership of their profession in some way or another and invariably fall back on it when their political life ends.

Mr Cherbi, perhaps you should find out if Mr MacAskill is actively lobbying for the legal profession as Justice Secretary. It does seem from reading your blog in chronological order there were more arguments over legal aid between the Scottish "Executive" and what is now the SNP Scottish "Government".

Perhaps it is the case that K MacAskill lobbied for and was given the legal aid rises which the previous "Executive" resisted on cost grounds or other ? It does seem the Law Society were far too quick to congratulate him on the rise in legal aid payments, which as you point out will probably only go to a few of the higher earning lawyers & QCs in criminal cases and his almost falling over praise of the legal profession seems rather questionable for this issue.

You certainly have big problems with the law and lawyers in Scotland Mr Cherbi.If its of any comfort at all, there are similar problems in England and Wales, but for the meagre size of Scotland's population against the numbers of lawyers, the problems seem to an extent out of control and almost aided & abetted by your politicians, Mr MacAskill among them.

I wish you luck in your cause.

Peter Cherbi said...

#M.Braithwaite @ 6.43pm

Good points which I will look into although I heard last week he did roll over on the legal aid rise if that's what you mean. I don't think the papers picked up on that though and there is also another rise on the way apparently !

Thanks for all your comments to the rest of you and the emails on this story this week.

It is up to Mr MacAskill to prove us wrong and deal with injustice. If he does so, addresses the issues fairly, compassionately, and takes account of the suffering of the electorate at the hands of Scotland's dishonest legal system, he will do good as Justice Secretary. If he stands by and does nothing, even assisting those who cause injustice by doing nothing, well, he does not deserve to be in the post.

Anonymous said...

Good answer Peter.Looking forward to seeing who is right on this and if MacAskill practices what the SNP preaches.
Help Scots or help lawyers? You choose.

Anonymous said...

Your comments in today's scotsman relate to a "small Borders town".I take this to refer to Jedburgh ?
How do you know so much about a Police operation on the drugs there ?

Anonymous said...

I thought Kenny MacAskill wanted us to focus on stopping youths getting hold of booze,not himself giving large handouts to lawyers.

SNP are well on their way to being the new masters of diversion politics & spin.Don't think it hasn't been noticed in the media either Mr Salmond.

Anonymous said...

Very handy to read of all your knowledge & experience Mr Cherbi but these lawyers will be out to get you at every turn for it.

Good work, and take care.

Anonymous said...

The SNP admire some strange folks but its not for them to just give into the demands of their buddies and waste all our money on lawyers.Big mistake voting them in I think after reading this but I'm not saying they are any worse than the others,just more of the same.

Anonymous said...


I don't think the SNP are bothered in the slightest about the justice system. Its time for people with a grievance to do something about it while this lot of idiots are running the country.

Anonymous said...

astounding report on MacAskill - he should be sacked immediately

if we dont love lawyers enough will he come round our houses and beat the shit out of us until we do?

the man should go back to being a lawyer if he loves them so much

Anonymous said...

no matter what you think Kenny Scotland owes lawyers NOTHING.Why don't you go back to them instead of pretend government?