Thursday, December 13, 2007

Law Society 'obstacle to change' as solicitors & clients hope for better relationship & trustworthy legal services

There is no doubt that solicitors & clients alike, can do without the Law Society of Scotland - the current state of Scotland's legal services market, the general disrespect and lack of trust the public afford the legal profession, and the numerous scandals which consistently rock Scotland's legal system and solicitor base, are evidence enough.

What good has the Law Society of Scotland done for solicitors over the years ?

Well, the Law Society would claim it has raised standards of service & conduct within the legal profession. However, with five thousand plus complaints a year made against less than ten thousand solicitors in Scotland, many of those complaints relating to serious frauds, poor service & conduct, even embezzlement, fakery, corrupt schemes to swindle clients out of even their property, there can be no doubt that standards of service & conduct are at an all time low.

What good has the Law Society of Scotland done for clients & the public over the years ?

The answer to that one of course, is none - no good at all.

The Law Society of Scotland, particularly it's current leadership under the likes of Chief Executive Douglas Mill, has concentrated fully on protecting solicitors from client complaints, ensuring when issues of serious complaints arise, the client loses out each time, while the solicitor goes on practicing.

Take for instance, a complaint where a solicitor had falsified a house & land sale - the client provided all kinds of evidence, even letters which fell into his possession from his own solicitor to a bidder on the property in question .. .scheming a deal so the solicitor & bidder would successfully gain a three million pound property for one tenth of its value, as the solicitor was holding his client for so long in the property sale, the client would go insolvent. The complaint went nowhere, the solicitor still practices, still has three houses of his own, still swindles clients, and hasn't a care in the world.

The client who made the complaint - He received no compensation even through he tried to pursue the case through the court. His new solicitors who took on the case trying to recover damages for theft & negligence worked against their client all the time, acted on instructions from the Law Society to delay the case and ruin it so there would be no settlement - which is in fact what happened. The client & his family lost their home, their lives were destroyed, and he now has cancer.

A situation repeated time & again, in the world of complaints against solicitors in Scotland. If you use a lawyer, the very same could happen to you just as easily, and there is nothing you will be able to do about it while the Law Society of Scotland exists.

If you want to read some more horrors of how the Law Society of Scotland have treated clients and stage managed legal services & access to justice in Scotland, here are a few links from previous posts :

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

Good list, isn't it ... and there's lots more of course ... what appears above is only the tip of the Law Society's iceberg.

In this Monday's Law Section of the Scotsman, Jennifer Veitch wrote a piece entitled "Law Society must put house in order"

Nothing more than the usual line from Drumsheugh Gardens though, no room for substantive debate, and a distinct lack of reporting on how the Law Society notably achieved some amendments to the much feared & bitterly debated Legal Profession & Legal Aid (Scotland) Act 2007.

"The previous 12 months were dominated by the bitter debate over the Legal Profession and Legal Aid Bill, and its proposals for a Scottish Legal Complaints Commission.

When the Bill was finally passed last December, some of the sting was removed, with lawyers having the right of appeal against the commission's decisions. But if the Law Society's head honchos had known what 2007 had in store then they might not have seemed quite so cheery at the end of 2006."

Yes, indeed it was a bitter debate, with the dirty tricks brigade from the Law Society on duty seemingly 24 hours a day to threaten anyone who would put forward evidence to the Parliament on the inadequacies of the Law Society of Scotland and it's solicitor membership ..

The dirty tricks from the Law Society of Scotland fell out of control, with public skirmishes in front of the Justice 2 Committee between John Swinney & Law Society Chief Executive Douglas Mill over secret memos which clearly showed deliberate corruption & intervention in client claims against overtly corrupt solicitors.

Would [Douglas Mill's] granny swear by the Law Society ? The Herald 5 June 2006 - Would granny swear by the law society

As the LPLA Bill debate progressed, and the Law Society of Scotland feared losing control of complaints and client claims, an English LibDem Peer, Lord Lester of Herne Hill QC was drafted in to write the bizarre legal opinion that "it would breach the human rights of lawyers to allow anyone else except a colleague to consider & investigate complaints against themselves."

Law Society Chief Executive Douglas Mill, then used the Lord Lester opinion to threaten legal action against the Scottish Parliament & Executive if certain amendments agreeable to the Law Society were not put into the LPLA Bill.

Holyrood in solicitors' sights Holyrood in Solicitor's Sights October 30 2006 The Herald

Ms Veitch's version of that differs slightly from the reality of the legal threat, in that she simply does not mention it. Good stuff ... wholesome incomplete reporting seeking to misinform the public, and you can see a further example of such reporting here :

A lawyer's never loved in his own home land Douglas Mill - A Lawyer's never loved in his own home land - The Scotsman 15 August 2006

Despite what some feel, if the Scottish Parliament & Executive changed legislation or amended it because of a legal threat from a profession with a vested financial interest in keeping such legislation restricted in its effect ... that is a big story. Big enough to be of significant public interest .... but not even a mention, as I'm sure if there was, Mr Mill would have been straight on the phone to have it removed.

The SNP Government are currently being attacked over a meeting between Alex Salmond and Donald Trump, over the calling in of Mr Trump's golfing development in the North East, as of course, Mr Trump has a vested interest in the proposals going through, and it does appear to some, that planning rules have been tossed aside in this matter, indicating a slight 'bending of the rules' to get the development through.

Well, if attacking the SNP over such a matter is good enough for the national press, then perhaps attacking the Law Society of Scotland Chief Executive's legal threat to Parliament & Government to bend & change rules or meet him in court, is just as significant a story ... and this is still a story, because as you may have guessed it, the dirty tricks brigade of the Law Society are at it again over the access to legal services debate, which you can read more about here :

Scotland fights political interests for wider access, choice of legal services over protectionism of lawyers monopoly

So, what the Law Society of Scotland has to do is not put its house in order.The time for that is over.

The Law Society of Scotland, has shown, it cannot change. It is too inflexible, too used to making threats to get it's own way, too used to delay to ensure nothing changes, too used to using dirty tricks to take out critics, opponents, and any client who may be a thorn in it's side, and too used to prejudice, protection of the guilty, and too used to having undue influence over public life.

The Law Society of Scotland should rather, jump off a cliff into extinction, and allow both solicitors & clients to get on with managing a relationship between the legal profession & public based on trust, accountability, transparency, and yes, even friendship.

If solicitors wish a representative body for their industry - yes by all means form one. Form one that gives you, each solicitor, a VOTE, in everything your new representative body will do for you. Make sure though, your shiny new representative body for the legal profession doesn't end up with the likes of the Law Society's current dictatorial leadership hell bent on protecting it's own political influence & power base, which has done exponential damage to the legal profession as a whole more than anything in history.

If the public wish a representative body for legal services, and by all means I would heartily advise it, ensure that such a body exclusively represents your interests as the client, has adequate powers to protect clients interests, ensure issues be tackled & publicised, and is able to ensure that complaints be dealt with properly, fairly, and with compassion.

We don't need the Law Society and it's dirty bag of dirty tricks any longer - it's time for a change - a change for solicitors & the public alike, a change for the better, a positive change for Scotland.

Law Society must put house in order

JENNIFER VEITCH

THIS time last year, the legal profession - or at least those concerned with plotting its direction - appeared to breath a collective sigh of relief. The previous 12 months were dominated by the bitter debate over the Legal Profession and Legal Aid Bill, and its proposals for a Scottish Legal Complaints Commission.

When the Bill was finally passed last December, some of the sting was removed, with lawyers having the right of appeal against the commission's decisions. But if the Law Society's head honchos had known what 2007 had in store then they might not have seemed quite so cheery at the end of 2006.

Thanks to the curveball of the Which? super-complaint to the OFT, this year has been dominated by an accelerated debate on the dreaded alternative business structure. Of course, everyone in the profession has been prattling on about Clementi for so long without similar proposals being seriously mooted for Scotland that perhaps the Law Society could have been forgiven for being lulled into believing it could escape the march of Tesco law.

To be fair, when the Research Working Group on the Legal Services Market in Scotland reported in April 2006, it recommended against intervention. But, after Which? forced the issue, the OFT turned its attentions to the Scottish marketplace, and soon the profession was presented with a list of recommendations for reform, just in time for the Law Society's conference on ABSs.

To say there was no shortage of opinions aired at September's debate would be putting it mildly. Lawyers from across Scotland offered the society plenty of food for thought about the impact of ABSs on legal services and particularly with regard to access to justice. The profession appeared divided into two camps: broadly speaking, there were those who make money, and want to stay competitive in order to keep doing so; and those who are struggling to keep afloat and fear the ABS would send them under. The big question was how the society would attempt to reconcile the two, and it promised the debate would inform its options paper, published with little fanfare on 1 November.

Yet this consultation paper stopped short of putting forward proposals that might give further direction to the debate. It certainly covered the pertinent issues arising from the main forms of ABS. It also stated that the society's council considers "it is now right to facilitate some changes", though it would prefer to see stepped or phased changes introduced. But it was surprisingly light on offering pragmatic solutions.

The society could no doubt argue its lack of prescription is a virtue - it is not prejudging the response from the public and will use the consultation, which ends on 31 January, to inform the process. But the Scottish Government still intends to respond to the OFT's recommendations by the end of this year. So is there a danger ministers will move ahead with their decision-making, without the benefit of clear directions emanating from the legal profession?

The profession has been looking to the Law Society to grasp the nettle on this issue, and provide leadership, and some much-needed certainty, for the marketplace.

Kenny MacAskill, the justice secretary, extended a clear invitation for the profession to take the lead, with the caveat that there was not the luxury of unlimited time. But the problem here appears to be that the Law Society is structured to need lots of time to respond to anything. Any decisions of significance need to be run past committees and its council.

And setting aside the current debate over market reforms, the Law Society's role is about to change markedly. When the new Scottish Legal Complaints Commission opens next year, at a date still to be confirmed, it will be unburdened of its role in investigating service complaints from consumers.

Theoretically at least, this should free up resources and allow the society to focus on issues such as alternative business structures and the ongoing debate to overhaul legal education.

The society has statutory duties to regulate and represent the profession, bearing in mind the public interest. To have any hope of doing this effectively - in whatever brave new regulatory world we are about to enter - it will need to get its house in order in 2008.

32 comments:

Anonymous said...

I don't always agree with what you write Mr Cherbi but in this posting you are right on the money.

Ironic it takes someone from outside the profession to start this debate but I for one would like to see the back of the Law Society and all its works pomps worship and all it's empty promises.

I might vote you a free lunch if you succeed !

Anonymous said...

LB on the subject of TC..Seems the inferiors are being supervised by the superiors in this firm, something about the inferiors taking certain cases too personally, strange scenario it must be, when "one" has to "run everything he does" in front of his boss, could be another nasty side to the "flu" currently afflicting this company since late summer!

Anonymous said...

Well what a turn up for the books.I forgot for a minute I was reading Peter Cherbi's 'Diary of Injustice in Scotland'
You believe in restoring the relationship between solicitors and clients.Good.I'm glad you accept that Peter as do many of us on the other side of the fence.
You are also spot on about the Law Society being a thing of the past .No good will come of their policies now and as you rightly point out we could all do with a clean break.
I think you have something here.Sorry of course to see what you had to go through to get to this point.I think some people owe you a lot and you may find later on some will speak up for you.

Anonymous said...

Solicitors have been saying this for years

Robin Hood said...

ho ho ho I bet some people regret not paying you off years ago

3 cheers for peter cherbi to slay the dragon !

McBuckie on the Bench said...

You should be covering the sleazy SNP and how they had Martin Ford sacked just because he couldn't be bought off

How clean do Herr Salmond & henchmen appear now hahaha not very clean !

Anonymous said...

I dont think Peter wants rid of solicitors he just wants to clean up the profession and that infernal monster the LSS

Anonymous said...

Most solicitors will agree with you about the Law Society.It has to be the biggest millstone around our necks as you have so often portrayed.

Peter Cherbi said...

#Anonymous @ 6.38pm

A free lunch sounds good. I name the venue and no radioactive sushi please.

#Anonymous @ 8.20pm

I catch your drift, do tell more ...

#Anonymous @ 12.20am

Yes I believe in restoring the relationship between the public & the legal profession - but that will never be achieved while the Law Society of Soctland and its leadership is allowed to dictate each way the profession turns - if you are a solicitor, you will know that very well - and as a member you don't even have a vote on Douglas Mill's antics ...

#McBuckie on the Bench @ 2.58pm

Just because I don't write about something here doesn't mean to say I'm not working on it ...

#Anonymous @ 3.24pm

Correct.

#Anonymous @ 3.57pm

I'm glad you feel that way, and these "most solicitors" should be doing something about it - there will never be a better time to act ...

#Unpublished comments - thanks for your information, it has been passed to the appropriate people I can assure you.

Anonymous said...

What a nice big picture of that Douglas Mill

I hope everyone gets to know him for all the hurt he has / is causing people

Anonymous said...

another vote against Mill

best rid of old rubbish

Anonymous said...

That article on Douglas Mill is berserk.I thought the hootsmon's only function these days was a love in with Labour but now I see they have a love in with crooked lawyers too.

Anonymous said...

Had to come here after trying to find decent stories to comment on the Scotsmans new website (which blows big time)

Good story and I bet Mill hates you even more now you have people talking about the end of the Law Society

Anonymous said...

I understand I think, that Courts have means of disciplining wayward lawyers, that is those types of lawyers who do not advise their clients as to the law and act for their clients very much outwith the law, and whilst his name is not on any register that I can find, he certainly appears to be under some supervision from the top man himself,
LB referring to TC.

Anonymous said...

Preaching to the choir Peter.We all want rid of the Law Society too.Trouble is if we quote you on this the hit squad are sent out to quell dissent ..

Anonymous said...

That is a frightening list of problems in the legal profession.
I agree with you we need to start afresh for the sake of both sides of the argument.

keep up the good reporting Mr Cherbi.

Anonymous said...

I am quite interested in your experiences Mr Cherbi.
I have been trying to pursue a complaint for 3 years with the Law Society but their Mr Yelland keeps knocking it back saying I'm taking legal action against the lawyers concerned and they cant look at the complaint until I finish the litigation.
Mr Yelland is a liar on this because my lawyer dropped me over a year ago and I havent been able to get a lawyer since then Know why ? because my lawyer got a letter from the Law SOciety telling him to drop my case and stop representing me and he was so desperate to drop me he forgot to charge me fees for all the work he did It must be the first time a lawyer did a year of work for a client then didnt charge for it just because he was told to drop me
I think you do a lot of good with this blog and it has given me courage to fight again If its ok Id like to send you some of the letters from Mr Yelland and others at the Law Society they are all such liars and even said they had lost some papers they believed i had sent them originals off but i had only sent them copies Terrible people and always lying
May god go with you for your work and helping for others Peter

eagle eyed / Bass Rock said...

I would stand you more than a free lunch Mr Cherbi
Its people like you who should be in politics not the scum we have running the country for their own benefit


Keep up the good work and let everyone know what bastards we have running Scotland.

Anonymous said...

Spot on.The Law Society is all about power and maintaining it.If you get rid of that monstrosity in Drumsheugh Gardens we can all get a bit peace.
Wait a minute though - Does Kenny MacAskill keep up his subscriptions to the Law Society ?
You better find out as I don't know of any 'non practising' solicitor in politics who doesn't pay their yearly bung ..

Peter Cherbi said...

#Anonymous @ 5.30pm

If you want to contact me with any information, you can do so in the strictest confidence - email in my profile or if you prefer, mark your comment with any information you wish to be looked at "Do not Publish". Always interested in a story of course ...

#Anonymous @ 6.05pm

Please contact me with further information on your complaint to the Law Society and send me any documents you can. Contact email in my profile.

#Eagle Eyed / Bass Rock @ 7.28pm

I don't think I'd be very popular in politics - I may put forward issues into the public eye which many politicians seem not to want to do ...

#Anonymous @ 8.01pm

Correct. There are a few MSPs in the Scottish Parliament who claim to be "non practising solicitors" but I understand from the Law Society itself, some of these MSPs still pay their annual subscriptions ... and if they do that, I'd be willing to bet they still pay a fee or secondary fee to the Master Insurance Policy just to keep up their accumulated benefits ...

Anonymous said...

Even handed story and good analysis.
I think you should be writing for a newspaper Mr Cherbi.
How about Law editor ?

Anonymous said...

The comment about non practising lawyer msps continuing to pay their indemnity insurance is correct.There is an "arrangement" worthy of a story Mr Cherbi.

Anonymous said...

You will upset Donald Reids blood pressure with those kinds of comments Mr Cherbi even if it is true !

Anonymous said...

If you want a good story on the borders tories one of their number has been caught fiddling a house sale.I will leave you to find out which.

Anonymous said...

You must be on top of things over there Mr Cherbi.It looks like the whole damn country is corrupt not just your Scottish attorneys.Obviously those loser nationalists have done even more damage since they took office.I will be giving your country a wide berth.Too dangerous and corrupt for my tastes.

Anonymous said...

some interesting comments here particularly those about complaints to the Law Society gone wrong

it might be a good idea if everyone who has had to make a complaint against a lawyer decides to publish what happened and all their accumulated papers making sure the lawyers are named so we all know whats going on

in a spin said...

Scotland has been a dangerous place to do business for years not just with your legal fraternity.The current debacle over Donald Trump's development is a good example where everyone is missing the point.The investment has been undermined from the very start because small minds in Scotland don't want to lose control of the money flow and who can sway the people.Your SNP are no business advertisement for Scotland - Salmond and his friends are not respected in the business community despite all the gloss you jocks are so willing to swallow about them so it will be good to see how long the chicken house economics gang lasts.Until you get a decent Government most of the business sector will stay away particularly from all those crooked lawyers you keep writing about which we in the rest of the world would prefer you keep caged without food.

Anonymous said...

good thing there are sites like this to take the sting out of the legal shite in the newspapers written BY lawyers
how did the legal profession infiltrate our media into all that crap they print these days ? Next think i expect to see someone from the law society writing about how lawyers should be given immunity when they commit child abuse

http://sacl.info said...

You asked : What good has the Law Society of Scotland done for solicitors over the years ?

Answer : Sweet Fuck All

You asked : What good has the Law Society of Scotland done for clients & the public over the years ?

Answer : Even less than Sweet Fuck All

Those bloodsuckers at the Law Society only care about themselves and no one else and whenever you say that or someone else says it they are spot on.

Peter Cherbi said...

#Anonymous @ 5.51am

Writing law stories for a newspaper seems to be a dangerous business. I know at least three journalists who have had their careers threatened because they wrote anti Law Society stories and a further one who recently sent me a tape of a phone threat he received.

#Anonymous @ 5.52pm

Borders Tories ? I have quite a bit to go on already but you can always email me more or leave a comment not for publication .

#Anonymous @ 5.31pm

A good idea, I agree.

#In a Spin @ 7.40pm

If you want a good example of dealing with Scottish business, look no further than the legal profession. There are a few foreign companies who have been stung by incompetently drawn up legal contracts or negligent advice which as cost them significantly.

One business deal brought to my attention involved an international company using one of the biggest law firms in Edinburgh on a deal, which went sour to the cost of well over a million. No recovery of it either, and the Law Society of Scotland saw to it there was no proper investigation. Perhaps corporate legal negligence deserves a few headlines too ... just to warn anyone that corporate law business can be just as crooked as that in the 'high street client' sector ...

Anonymous said...

I think you deserve a medal or something for what you have been through but if you do get a position or whatever make sure you continue to help others because I don't think there are many like you around these days

best wishes from an old codger who sympathises with anyone who falls victim to a lawyer

Peter Cherbi said...

#Anonymous @ 7.39pm

Medals are worthless - rather, the victims of injustice deserve their rights to be fully restored, and their suffering under that injustice put right.

I will always do what I can to help people in these circumstances.