Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Scottish Legal Complaints Commission - protecting the public or protecting the legal profession ?

I must confess I had no idea the 'independent' complaints body I helped create to investigate complaints against lawyers would end up turning regulation of the legal profession into an industry with its appointments & salaries scales.

As I note from Scottish Law Reporter, the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission are seeking to fill the post of "Head of Investigations", which I assume will mirror the role of Philip Yelland, the Law Society of Scotland's "Director of Regulation" who has headed the infamous Client Relations Office for decades.

The post of Head of Investigations has a salary band up to £1400, 00 per week ! so as you can see the legal profession, and very strangely, their allies in the current Scottish Government, are being very very kind to themselves ...

Given the fact that complaints against solicitors in Scotland rose to around eight thousand a year at one stage (with the Law Society 'seasonally adjusting' the figures down to five thousand) ... most clients and solicitors alike don't think Mr Yelland did or does a particularly good job of things ... and of course with the Law Society's outgoing Chief Executive Douglas Mill choosing to personally interfere in many cases of complaint against legal colleagues ... many client complaints were simply binned or prolonged for years with no action at the end of it.

In short, the Law Society of Scotland, laundered complaints against solicitors, as drug dealers launder their profits from sales of their nefarious wares.

Now of course, all that is supposedly to end, with the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission coming along to 'independently' regulate complaints against solicitors, and we supposedly will have a 'new dawn' of honesty & accountability.

Hold on a minute though, that might not happen because many of the same people who worked in the Client Relations Office under the administration of Philip Yelland, are going to or are now working for the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission.

So, did you make a serious complaint against a solicitor in the past few years, where maybe your assets had been embezzled, or you had lost a property or legal case due to the negligence or incompetence of your solicitor, and got nowhere when the Law Society studied that complaint ?

Well ... chances are, the same person who 'handled' your complaint into the dustbin, will now be working for the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission !

What are the chances these same people are going to have a great leap of honesty and do any different from what they have been trained for so long to do all these years ... which is ensuring that complaints against lawyers go nowhere ?

Picture this for a minute - a client of a solicitor who lost a legal action which ultimately cost them their home, business & livelihood, made a complaint to the Law Society in 2003.

The complaint was then investigated, and despite an overwhelming amount of evidence to show the solicitor acted with negligence, and even embezzled around £52,000, into one of his personal bank accounts, the Law Society despite all the evidence, whitewashed the solicitor and let him off the hook, so the client who was ruined, gets nothing, and the solicitor concerned went onto do the same to further clients in 2004, 2006, and 2007.

The staff member at the Law Society of Scotland who dealt with the initial complaint against that solicitor in 2003, was then found to have dealt with the three further complaints against the same solicitor involving the same kinds of actions, including embezzlement against three further clients who were also financially ruined and had their complaints against the same solicitor binned, while the solicitor is allowed to carry on in practice !

That same Law Society staff member then transfers to the new 'independent' Scottish Legal Complaints Commission to carry on the same work they were doing at the Law Society of Scotland's Client Relations Office which has let 'crooked lawyers' off the hook on so many occasions previously.

Does anyone honestly think that such person should be working at the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission or indeed have anything to do with regulation against the legal profession ?

I have reported on previous issues regarding the new Scottish Legal Complaints Commission, and particularly a set of rather sleazy appointments, which are currently being investigated.

You can read those earlier articles here :

Call for MacAskill appointments 'sleaze investigation' as revelations show Legal Complaints Commission member was subject of Police inquiry

Calls for full disclosure on legal complaints commission members as Justice Department 'covers up' conflicts of interest in appointments scandal

Law Society staff secretly migrating into 'independent' complaints commission will ensure continuing problems of regulating Scottish lawyers

I have to wonder if this new Scottish Legal Complaints Commission will be any different from the Law Society's Client Relations Office of old ... and whether the will exists at the Justice Department to ensure the SLCC performs its duty properly ... given the current Justice Secretary seems to be 'out to lunch' on issues concerning the legal profession ...

Just for good measure, here is the job advertisement from the SLCC .. don't worry, I won't be applying for it myself !. Perhaps another Law Society stooge can be found to fill the position .... although I certainly hope not !

Scottish Government - Head of Investigations

SLCC: SCOTTISH LEGAL COMPLAINTS COMMISSION

At times, we all have to put our trust in the legal profession. If we're disappointed with the results, confidence in the whole justice system suffers.

That's why with the Legal Profession and Legal Aid (Scotland) Act (2007), The Scottish Legal Complaints Commission (SLCC) has been established. The Commission will replace all functions of the Scottish Legal Services Ombudsman as well as some complaints areas of the Law Society of Scotland. The Commission has been created to receive, investigate and resolve complaints made against legal practitioners and brings together the powerful combination of Commissioners from both the legal profession and the general public. The Commission will deliver an independent resolution of complaints without delay and effectively.

The Commission will be based in Edinburgh, will commence in October 2008 and will employ around 45 staff. Before we start work we need to build our management team. We need people with the vision, determination and drive to lead our people, achieve objectives and play a central role in making a real impact for the people of Scotland.

Head of Investigations (HoI) Salary Band £58,599 to £72,717 pa

This is a crucial role in the Commission and requires to be filled by a candiate of the highest calibre to work within the Senior Management Team.

The principal function of the HoI will be the efficient management of the Investigations Operations Team numbering around 30 employees and ensuring that policy and processes are delivered in line with stated objectives and that caseload key performance indicators are met and exceeded. The HoI will be come involved in specific cases that are atypical because they are unususal or precedential. As HoI you will line manage the team of Investigation Team Managers who in turn manage Complaints Investigators and Support Officers. The role requires that you ensure that systems are robust and respond to process change requirements where necessary and to advise the Chief Executive Officer accordingly. The HoI will also manage our Mediation and Gateway Teams.

You will have experience in complaints handling and be professional qualified. The role demands an individual with excellent organisational skills, a skilful communicator at Board and team level and a sharp analytical mind to exercise sound judgement. The ability to handle complex and sensitive issues and to produce reports and the interpretation of data is essential. You will have a track record of significant achievement.

You will be highly motivated and enjoy the challenge of working in an environment that requires adherence to process, the speedy yet consistent turnaround of legal complaints whilst continuing to develop systems to suit the ongoing needs of the Commission.

The Scottish Legal Complaints Commission is an Equal Opportunities Employer and welcome applications from all sectors of the community.

To download an application form and job description and find out more about the SLCC visit our website at : http://www.scottishlegalcomplaints.com/

Application forms can also be obtained by telephoning Julie Muir on 0131 224 8242.

To apply for this role please send your CV, application form and covering letter to: julie.muir@scotland.gsi.gov.uk or apply in writing to: Julie Muir, SLCC Project Team, 2nd Floor West, St Andrews House, Regent Road, Edinburgh, EH1 3DG.

Closing date for applications: Friday 6 June 2008

21 comments:

Anonymous said...

Yes Peter you have a lot to learn.Anything to do with lawyers has fat pay cheques attached to it and this Commission is no different.

Oh wait though,don't you have the SNP IN POWER now and they were going to stop all that ? NO ? Why not ?

Anonymous said...

Entertaining to say the least.I think you are spot on about MacAskill.Someone at the Conf on Friday said he is the worst choice in Salmond's administration.Don't be surprised if your little campaign against him takes root because many agree with you.

Anonymous said...

Great stuff Pete.Put me down for the 1400 quid a week.I wonder who will get it too.One of Kenny's good pals no doubt.

Snouts in the trough !

Anonymous said...

Disgusting.1400 a week for looking after complaints against lawyers!
whats the betting on a lawyer getting it

William Beck said...

As someone experienced in complaints to Law Society I am Appalled that these members can jump ship and claim to be an Independent Organisation.

I for one will be complaining about the conduct of my Solicitor who the SLSO has said there was "Red Herrings" in the way Law Society handled my last complaints

Anonymous said...

There will never be Justice while this lot flit from one organisation to another in order to maintain their cover-ups.

When will the genuine people realise this lot are "Professional Lay People" mostly belonging to Lawyers and Police.

Lawyers simply cannot be investigated by Lawyers no more than Doctors By Doctors or Police by Police.

Self Governing cannot be acceptable in this modern society

Anonymous said...

Good for you Peter.I think you just killed off any shred of credibility the SLCC could hope to have.What do you suggest doing with it now ?

Anonymous said...

Thats quite a detailed story you report on the Law Society staff member who fucked up 4 complaints or more against the same lawyer.Now at the SLCC too? I think the cops should be investigating this scam for sure and any politician who let that pass under his bung filled nose should be s-a-c-k-e-d.

Peter Cherbi said...

#Anonymous @ 2.10pm

Different motives I suppose, other than wanting to actually give proper independent regulation to the legal profession and protection of consumer rights .... You can pin all that on MacAskill if the SLCC goes belly up.

#Anonymous @ 6.24pm

I agree with whoever said that.

#Anonymous @ 7.15pm

Yes I'm sure someone is already lined up for the position so it wont make a blind bit of difference who says anything.

#William Beck @ 11.48pm

I share your disgust - and with the same Law Society staff on board who have cause so much harm to the public, I don't think the SLCC can claim anything along the lines of independence.

#Anonymous @ 3.06pm

Start again, and this time without the 'we must obey the Law Society and fiddle complaints' motives ...

#Anonymous @ 4.54pm

If you want to hang the blame on anyone, try the Justice Secretary.He is responsible for the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission.

Incidentally I don't think the Police would become involved - the Crown Office have cut investigations into crooked lawyers and related issues from time to time .. only a couple of weeks ago I saw a letter from the Crown Office which stated that clearly to a wronged client .. I think they didn't mean to say what they did though ...

wee rab said...

well Pete I wouldn't believe word one out of the SLCC now after reading your bit on them

keep up the good work highlighting all this sickening injustice

Anonymous said...

Valid concerns Peter.No wonder the Law Society are keeping quiet about the whole thing publicly.

Anonymous said...

Tried to get a quote from the Justice Secretary over your claims about the Law Society staff at the SLCC.Justice Dept said no Law Society staff who did such a thing as you reported would be working at the SLCC.Hit them with a complaint which Douglas Watson sat on as a lay member at committee and they now refuse to come back to me because its one of those cases you wrote about and the client was screwed royally.
Cant beat your writing Peter.Keep at it mate because our f*king editor wont let this one go in so I will email it to you.

Anonymous said...

One of the few law blogs worth reading.I think you have hit the nail on the head of this injustice stuff and hopefully your Government will do something more than it is obviously not doing at present.

Full marks and keep up the good writing.Its good to have people like you in this world to shake up the system from time to time!

Anonymous said...

Good story of a paralegal and a lawyer from Edinburgh going round stealing rental tenants property while they were out.Tenant lays a camera trap and catches them both yet the Law Society refuses the complaint.
People better start checking their possessions?

Peter Cherbi said...

#Anonymous @ 2.47pm

Interesting reaction and thanks for your email of the story.

#Anonymous @ 1.18pm

There are some good law blogs from Scotland you should pay attention to, many of the ones I know listed in my links section.

I would say that Scotland is currently full of injustice and the lack of a firm impartial hand on the justice portfolio is doing the country a lot of damage.

#Anonymous @ 2.33pm

Please tell me more about that story involving the paralegal and the lawyer ... I take it you mean these two were stealing belongings of rental clients ? Is that ESPC ?

Anonymous said...

You could be right Peter.I think these people are very dangerous and shouldn't be allowed to control justice and run Scotland as they are running it (into the ground).So much for this SNP being a breath of fresh air.A year on and its just as bad.

Anonymous said...

I don't think this position is equivalent to Philip Yelland's role at the Law Society whom many even in the profession don't like but I'm not surprised of the salary scale.
If you are correct about the Law Society managing to slide in one of their clique into the position,I would say that will about end it for the SLCC.
Maybe that is what the Law Society and your non-friend Mr MacAskill wanted all along ?

not so long ago said...

I remember not so long ago a lawyer was pimping a couple of paralegals who were working from a clients house every night.The client was in America for about 6 months and came back unexpectedly to be told the whole story by their neighbours.A complaint was filed to the Law Society.Nothing done of course.

not so long ago said...

I forgot to mention that one of the 'clients' of the paralegals frolicking was a currently serving Sheriff.

Good story,pity a well known newspaper chickened out of it after the odd judicial threat.It could even be said the Sheriff's 'regular attendance' helped the lawyer and the paralegals escape penalty.

Anonymous said...

A sheriff with hookers and paralegal hookers at that !

Anyone we know ? Please give it to the Record or someone who will stick the sods picture on the front page !

Peter Cherbi said...

#Anonymous @ 9.25pm

You have a good point ... make the SLCC look bad by deliberately appointing the usual suspects and filling its positions with Law Society staff .. what better way to discredit it and ensure the way the Law Society mishandled complaints continues unchanged ...

#Not so long ago

If you email me the details of that story I will pass it onto the appropriate newspaper.Make sure you name all concerned, including the Sheriff please.