Negligent or crooked lawyers in Scotland can be thankful for at least two weapons in their defence against complaints when a client realises they were ripped off.
The first weapon in a dishonest lawyers arsenal against such a complaint, would be the Law Society of Scotland, the legal profession's well known self regulator of complaints against solicitors, who act only as a control point to ensure their members are unaffected by even the largest client frauds, poorest levels of service, and in some cases, criminal charges.
The second, perhaps more sinister weapon a crooked lawyer can always seem to rely upon, no matter how crooked they are, is, Douglas Mill, the Law Society's very own Chief Executive of now more than ten years.
Douglas Mill - The face of the Law Society's hate, rage & intervention against client complaints & claims against crooked lawyers
Douglas Mill, a man who last year threatened both the Scottish Executive & Scottish Parliament that if it did not do as he said, he would take it to court on his own insistence that it was a lawyers 'human right' under ECHR to regulate & control complaints against legal colleagues, has a long and consistent record of intervening in complaints and financial claims made against fellow solicitors, with the sole determination to prevent success at all costs.
While the law clearly does not allow the Law Society and it's officials to intervene in financial claims against crooked solicitors, Douglas Mill has established a regular policy to do just that - prevent successful client claims against the legal profession at all costs, and intervene at-will in complaints against solicitors to guard against the possibility of a claim after a complaints investigation finds a solicitor guilty of poor service or conduct offences towards their client.
Douglas Mill has used the Law Society's policy of consistent intervention in both complaints and financial claims against solicitors many times, and continues to do so unashamedly, in an unrivalled anti consumer, prejudiced, and corrupt policy of ensuring that self regulation of solicitors in Scotland means no regulation of solicitors in Scotland.
During the Justice 2 Committee hearings on the now passed Legal Profession & Legal Aid (Scotland) Act 2007, an act I would remind you all the Scottish Conservatives tried to stop on behalf of the Law Society of Scotland, Douglas Mill was brought before the Justice 2 Committee to explain his involvement in cases of complaint & financial claims against solicitors.
Douglas Mill explained to the Justice 2 Committee he had no such involvement, and as you can see from the earlier except from those Committee hearings, swore on oath and on his 'granny's grave' he had never intervened in such a case.
Douglas Mill swore on his 'granny's grave' he was a liar ?
However, the Cabinet Secretary for Business, John Swinney MSP, has a different view of matters, which was revealed at that same Committee hearing, when Mr Swinney revealed a secret memo penned by Douglas Mill himself, seeking to intervene & collate information on claims made by Mr Swinney's constituent, Mr Stewart MacKenzie, in a case which has lasted now 22 years and still remains to be resolved to this day.
Douglas Mill, challenged by John Swinney over the content of that memo, had no explanation other than to lie to the Scottish Parliament and deny any such involvement, yet as John Swinney points out, the memo shows Mill's intervention to be the case, and what's more a consistent policy of intervention where none is allowed
John Swinney challenges Douglas Mill over his secret memos, finds Mill's explanations somewhat lacking reality ...
There is little doubt from the evidence of Douglas Mill's own memos in the MacKenzie case, that a concerted & determined policy of intervention in financial claims against lawyers has existed at the Law Society of Scotland for many years, and has been widely successful in protecting a great number of crooked lawyers and the legal profession's insurance scheme from paying out huge damages awards.
Douglas Mill's memos - a policy of interference in claims & complaints :
It could even be that Douglas Mill learned his skills from his mentor, former Law Society Boss Kenneth Pritchard (now a Sheriff) who himself operated the same policy of intervention against clients claims & complaints against solicitors, even going so far as to order clients solicitors to cease their representation in critical legal cases which I reported earlier in the following story : Law Society intervention in claims 'commonplace' as ex Chief admits Master Policy protects solicitors against clients
Law Society boss Kenneth Pritchard intervenes in a claim, ordering solicitors to cease representing their client who is suing firms of lawyers
I have of course, felt the wrath of Douglas Mill's direct intervention in my own case against crooked lawyer Andrew Penman, where Mr Mill even felt so spiteful & protective of his crooked colleague, he had to personally intervene in my claim for civil legal aid to pursue Mr Penman and the Law Society for damages over Mr Penman's plundering of my family's assets.
It was simply not in the interests of Douglas Mill, the Law Society of Scotland, and Mr Penman, that I be allowed access to justice or legal services, so they made sure the door was closed on my legal aid funding.
Douglas Mill intervenes with the Legal Aid Board to block legal aid claims
Douglas Mill's intervention in my case to block my legal aid was reported in the Scotsman newspaper here :
Douglas Mill spikes legal aid claim to get crooked lawyers & himself off the hook
Not content with ensuring I had no access to justice or legal services, Douglas Mill dispatched Mr Philip Yelland, the Law Society's Director of Regulation, to order my own solicitors not to take instructions from me in any case I wanted to raise against crooked lawyer Andrew Penman or the Law Society itself.
Philip Yelland - Director of Regulation orders a lawyer suing crooked Borders lawyer Andrew Penman not to take instructions from clients
You can read more about the Andrew Penman case and the Scotsman's coverage of my battle with the Law Society of Scotland over how they failed to prosecute Mr Penman, then went on to obstruct me from getting to court here : Andrew Penman & Norman Howitt : Lawyer & accountant team up to ruin Cherbi executry estate
We are left with no doubt after reading the above, that Douglas Mill and indeed the Law Society of Scotland, operate a concerted policy of intervention against client complaints against solicitors and financial claims for damages, to the point that it is their unashamed policy to ensure complaints against solicitors, and claims for compensation as a result of negligence, dishonest, or other malpractice are obstructed to ensure no success whatsoever and that anyone who tries to raise such a case, or challenges the point of view of the Law Society of Scotland has their right of access to justice, access to the courts & access to legal services denied.
Douglas Mill and the Law Society of Scotland's intervention against client complaints & financial claims against solicitors doesn't stop there though, and reeling from the Scotsman's coverage of my battle with the Law Society in the 1990s over crooked lawyer Andrew Penman, Douglas Mill and others at the Law Society have on several occasions in a now regular policy of intervention with the media, called up newspapers & journalists even in person, to censor newspaper articles before publication and even threaten journalists careers.
Read the following for a run down on how the Law Society handle the Scottish press from time to time : The Law Society of Scotland's policy of censorship towards the media
Then, of course, there was the Law Society's media attempt to close down my blog and silence all critics on the back of the attack on the Law Society's Chief Accountant Leslie Cumming, which it seems was carried out by some of the Law Society's own crooked lawyers ...
John Swinney, the Cabinet Secretary for Business in the SNP's Scottish Government understands and recognises both Douglas Mill & the Law Society of Scotland's concerted policy of intervention in claims & complaints against solicitors to ensure destruction of such client's chances of obtaining a measure of justice, to be the case.
John Swinney knows of such policies only too well. Mr Swinney has viewed piles of evidence, files, papers, media coverage, even revealing evidence in the Scottish Parliament himself, illustrating without a doubt, a general corruption in the Law Society's procedures & attitude against not only clients complaints & claims against solicitors, but also a generally prejudiced and provocative attitude towards & against the public interest.
John Swinney, after all, has a constituent who has been through some of the worst experiences of prejudiced anti client regulation from the Law Society of Scotland, much of it at the hands of Douglas Mill himself.
John Swinney, also understands a great many other people in Scotland have also had their complaints and financial claims against solicitors ruined, as a result of the same policies practiced by Douglas Mill, Philip Yelland, and others at the Law Society of Scotland.
Kenny MacAskill, the Cabinet Secretary for Justice, does not accept this to be the case, indeed, Mr MacAskill, an ardent supporter of Douglas Mill, self regulation by the Law Society of Scotland to ensure control of all complaints, and it seems, a supporter of the legal professions such hateful, harmful policies of anti client prejudice when it comes to complaints & access to justice, has went further and condemned anyone who takes issue with the Law Society's own point of view that it must do as it pleases without recourse, honesty, accountability, or transparency.
Why, one may ask, the radical differences between these two Cabinet colleagues ?
Kenny MacAskill is of course, a solicitor, and thus a member of the Law Society of Scotland.
John Swinney is not a solicitor and is not a member of the Law Society of Scotland.
Kenny MacAskill has stated many times it is his aim to defend the profession from anyone who misrepresents it - but Mr MacAskill really means he will defend the Law Society of Scotland against anyone who disagrees with it, for it is not with the general agreement of the unable-to-vote entire Scots legal profession membership that the Law Society of Scotland, and Doulgas Mill, drags it down into the gutter.
John Swinney has stated many times there are significant problems with the Law Society of Scotland's attitude towards handling client complaints and financial claims made against very obviously crooked solicitors. Mr Swinney accepts there are policies of direct involvement & intervention by the most senior Law Society officials made in efforts to thwart a client's access to justice & legal representation, to prevaricate & even destroy financial claims made against crooked lawyers, and Mr Swinney, importantly, does not accept, like most of us, Douglas Mill's so obviously false claim the Law Society has never intervened in cases to the harm & detriment of clients ...
Of the two Cabinet Ministers, which one is correct ? John Swinney or Kenny MacAskill ? Who as the bigger axe to grind to protect his professional colleagues, compared to the bigger axe to grind representing the community at large ?
Clearly, Kenny MacAskill, lacking impartiality, and in such awe of his legal colleagues, has of course, the bigger axe to grind in protecting the likes of Douglas Mill and the Law Society of Scotland from regulatory change in favour of the client ...
Clearly, Kenny MacAskill, a member of the Law Society of Scotland, will always, as he has said himself in the media & the Parliament, defend the Law Society of Scotland and the legal profession against anyone who disagrees with it's point of view.
Clearly, that is a dangerous position for a Cabinet Secretary of Justice - to be so overtly hostile against the public interest in favour of his own professional body who would benefit from no change at all, no reform, no transparency, no accountability, no honesty, no will to review & resolve the sins of the past ...
John Swinney, on the other hand, is doing nothing more than his duty - to represent the community, the wider public interest of us, the Scottish people, and his constituents who sought his help and are receiving it against a monolithic, greedy, corrupt system of self regulation of lawyers which surely must fall, along with anyone daft enough to support it.
John Swinney understands clearly and accepts the need for change to the terrible way in which clients of crooked lawyers have been treated for years in Scotland. John Swinney has campaigned for and continues to seek a resolution to the terrible corruption at the Law Society of Scotland, while Kenny MacAskill seeks to protect it.
Perhaps its now time for Alex Salmond as First Minister, to show his badge of office, and clear up this terrible injustice, terrible inconsistency, and terrible protectionism by an SNP Justice Secretary of a terribly corrupt institution, the Law Society of Scotland.
Justice, fairness, fair play, accountability and trustworthy dependable legal services - it's not much for Scotland to ask and expect, is it Mr Salmond ?