Thursday, June 26, 2008

Members interests show Scottish Legal Complaints Commission lacks intended independence from lawyers vested interests

As the days count down to the first of October 2008, when the new Scottish Legal Complaints Commission takes over regulation of service complaints from the Law Society of Scotland, new details emerge of the [sadly] lack of any effort on the part of the Scottish Government to appoint wholly independent individuals to oversee and adjudicate complaints against Scotland's 10,500 solicitors.

It appears almost, the Law Society of Scotland, which has succeeded in overpowering both the Legal Profession & Legal Aid (Scotland) Act 2007 and the new Scottish Legal Complaints Commission, has simply cloned itself into the new Commission.

I note for instance this week, with the announcement of the new Chief Executive of the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission - Elieen Masterman, was also a member of Law Society of Scotland's the Professional Conduct Committee, evidence of which you can see here in the Law Society's annual report of 2004

You can read the Journal of the Law Society's announcement of Eileen Masterman's appointment to the Chief Executive's position here : Complaints Commission has chief executive

Not a very thorough report from the Journal though - they missed out she served on Law Society Committees too ... tut tut ...

Now, I'm not saying the new Chief Executive shouldn't be in her post just because she sat on Law Society Committees .. but I am saying that surely, with the public spirit & intentions of the LPLA Act .. that people entirely independent from the legal profession .. entirely independent from the Law Society of Scotland and it's many regulatory branches .. could have at least been found to staff and run the new [but no longer independent] Scottish Legal Complaints Commission ...

Of course, the problem comes in such a situation we have here in the formation of an entirely new regulatory body, where there is a lack of political leadership or incentive to do other than what has done before.

Where for instance, there is no political leadership or political intervention in an industry to reform or change its ways .. that industry will do as it pleases as so many industries have done in the past when it came to disrespecting the rights of consumers.

Here we have that same situation, where the legal 'industry' in Scotland seems to be able to do as it pleases, because there is no political leadership or political intervention to ensure that the public interest is kept paramount over that of the industrial interest.

The legal profession’s interest in this case, is to keep control of regulation at all costs, to the point of co-opting what was intended to be a new 'independent' complaints commission, now staffed by the very same people, many who have corrupted the regulatory process for many years ensuring clients got nowhere against crooked members of the legal profession.

Sadly in this instance, there appears to be almost no political leadership at all coming from Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill, who has simply sat back and allowed the Law Society to put forward its people to staff, run and enforce the new Scottish Legal Complaints Commission .. and absolutely nothing has been said about it at all ..

If you actually sit down and think about it, the Justice Secretary has failed to show leadership, raise comment, or even just raise an eyebrow on umpteen more issues facing Scots Law today, from corrupted disclosure practices of the Crown Office, to the failures of the Lockerbie Case, to the failure of Law & order up and down the country itself ..

Kenny MacAskill : Scots Govt ‘great debt’ to legal profession ensured SLCC was taken over by the Law Society & vested legal interests

Do better Kenny ? We Scots deserve better on Justice, I’m sure …

You can read some of my earlier articles on the formation & appointments process of the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission here :

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

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

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

Here is the register of Members interests from the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission .. see if you can spot anyone who hasn't had dealings with lawyers or been part of the legal profession's self regulatory set up over the years .. you will be very hard pressed to do so, and it is that difficulty which gives rise to the fact the SLCC is not the independent complaints commission which Scots were promised …!

Scottish Legal Complaint Commission

Members Register of Interests (link opens as a .pdf document)

SLCC members interests Page 1SLCC members interests Page 2

Jane Irvine :

• Currently Scottish Legal Services Ombudsman.

• Professional contact with solicitors' firms Burness, Leslie Deans & Co and Allan McDougal.

• Professional contact with advocates Derek O'Carrol and John Campbell QC.

Douglas Watson :

• Former lay member of a Law Society of Scotland Committee dealing with Access to Legal Information. The role was unpaid.

• A cousin, Bruce Minto, is a partner in Dickson Minto, Solicitors.

• Formerly a Chief Superintendent with Lothian and Borders Police.

Linda Pollock :

• Executive Nursing Director (1989 -2006).

• Interim Board Nurse Director (2002-2003).

• Chief Nursing Officer’s Professional Advisor on nurse prescribing (2005-6).

• Past External Examiner with Robert Gordon’s University and Queen Margaret University.

• Research Honorary Fellow in the Social Science Faculty of Edinburgh University.

• Formerly, a part time nurse member of the Mental Welfare Commission (1997-2005).

• Currently, working as a Primary Care Consultant, undertaking research work commissioned by the Queen’s Nursing Institute in Scotland.

• Registrant member of the Nursing and Midwifery Council Appointments Board.

• Member of the Royal College of Nursing.

• Has accepted hospitality from Gillespie MacAndrew.

George L Irving CBE :

• Director of Social Work North Ayrshire Council 1999-2000.

• Board Member of Ayrshire Council on Alcohol.

• Ex-President of the Association of Directors of Social Work ( Scotland ).

• Chair of NHS Ayrshire and Arran from 2001-2006.

• Led the National Support Team, Management of Offenders 2005-2007.

• Visiting Professor to Glasgow Caledonian University School of Health and Social Care.

• Fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine.

• Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.

• Member of the Rotary Club of Alloway.

Ian Gordon OBE, QPM, LL.B (Hons) :

• Retired Deputy Chief Constable of Tayside Police.

• Associate Professor in Policing for Charles Sturt University (Australia).

• Formerly Chair of the Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland (ACPOS) Professional Standards Business Area.

• Vice-Chair of ACPOS General Policing Business Area.

• Director, Quaere Ltd

Margaret Scanlan :

• Consultant, Russells Gibson McCaffrey, Solicitors.

• Member of the Law Society of Scotland and holder of current practising certificate.

• Husband is a senior partner Russells Gibson McCaffrey.

• Husband is a member of the Law Society of Scotland and holder of current practising certificate.

• Past Chair of the Family Law Association.

• Former member of the Scottish Legal Aid Board.

David Smith :

• Member of the Law Society of Scotland and holder of current practising certificate.

• Former member/partner of Shepherd and Wedderburn LLP, Solicitors. Retired on 30/04/08.

• Wife is a Senator of the College of Justice and a non practising member of the Faculty of Advocates.

David Chaplin :

• Former member of Anderson Fyfe LLP, Solicitors. Retired on 30/04/08.

• Member of the Law Society of Scotland and holder of current practising certificate.

• Director and shareholder in Baliol Properties Limited.

Alan Paterson :

•Professor of Law and Director of the Centre for Professional Legal Studies at Strathclyde University.

• Research adviser to the Scottish Legal Aid Board.

• Lay member of the Judicial Appointments Board.

• Co-opted member of the Council of the Law Society of Scotland.

• Member of the Law Society of Scotland.

• Professional contact with Guild & Guild, Solicitors


off the wagon said...

Yikes ! Kenny certainly stuffed the quango with lawyers !! That should be no surprise though because he is a lawyer too !

WTF is this great debt thing ? Go back 2 ur bottle MacArsekill Scotland owes lawyers zero !

Anonymous said...

Are they just going to get away with it because they are arguing the lawyers are paying for it?

This quango is now totally discredited

Anonymous said...

less than impressive from the SNP and why couldn't they find a place for your favourite chap Douglas Mill

Anonymous said...

Interesting.Not one person there is independent from the legal profession by any measure of the word.

Does that alone not show the sheer power and scale of the corruption of self regulation ?

Anonymous said...

You were right all along when you said :

Posted by: Peter Cherbi, Edinburgh on 2:22am Sat 28 Jul 07
It's good to see the SNP are going ahead with the formation of the SLCC - for a minute I thought the Law Society of Scotland had twisted their arm into axing it along with many other provisions of the Legal Profession & Legal Aid (Scotland) Act 2007 ... although I'm sure there's still time for that.

As long as

(i) The legal profession don't slip a few spies into the new SLCC,
(ii) The lawyer appointees to the SLCC Panel via the Lord President are required to declare their 'regulatory history & that of their firm' and
(iii) We don't get the same old 'lay members' which sit on each others committees & fiddle away client complaints - the new complaints body might have half a chance at being independent, accountable & transparent - three things the present self regulators of the Scottish legal profession could never claim to be.

Over to you, Mr Justice Secretary for an end to injustice in Scotland ....

Anonymous said...

Disgusting to say the least.I can't see any difference from the Law Society to this !

Anonymous said...

Another bunch of numpties doing the quango rounds for lots of lolly !
How much will it take to get lawyers off the hook this time ??

Anonymous said...

I am not surprised of the reaction to this which was an entirely stupid move by whoever allowed the appointments (I presume it was Mr MacAskill)

Anonymous said...

Agree with all comments this is just disgusting and must be exposed.Keep up the good work Mr Cherbi.

Anonymous said...

independent my foot !

Anonymous said...

If murderers can get their cousins onto juries it will be about the same as this quango.

Thanks for the expose as always.Good you got to it before it gets the all flowery treatment in the hootsmon !

Anonymous said...

noted and I think anyone with an ounce of common sense would agree there is no impartiality in this commission,quango or whatever it is to be called

terrible to think the law society has got away with it (at least for now)

Poirot said...

Very good Peter

Now you and all your readers know why registers of members interests are never published too widely or in places easy for the average person to access.

Good report as always,keep it up.Anyone who trusts the SLCC after this needs their head looking into.

Anonymous said...

More jobs for the boys then so nothing too unusual about that.
What about all those loony SNP supporters saying this would never ever happen under the SNP?!Gotcha!!Just as bad as all the rest with more of the same to look forward to!

Anonymous said...

What better way to control everything than having all your own people in the main positions.
Absolutely Diabolical.

I for one will be sending a copy of this to my MSP asking he take action over this lot.

Sounds a bit like the SCCRC who are supposed to be independent too but are staffed by 95% legal profession and are accountable to No-One

Will there be someone to whom disgruntled applicants can complain to about any conduct issues which will surely arise when this lot take over, Sorry, (Law Society) Flit to a new property.

G.McFadyen said...

Like others I am dismayed the complaints process against lawyers has again been corrupted by lawyers and this has been allowed to happen by our political masters.
Disgusting to say the least.

Anonymous said...

Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said:This Government is committed to modernising the legal complaints handling system to ensure that any complaints against the legal profession are resolved quickly and effectively. That is why we supported the setting up of this Commission.“Jane Irvine and her fellow Commissioners will have a strong remit to deal with complaints and I am confident that their independent scrutiny will safeguard the rights of both the profession and the users of legal services throughout Scotland.“Complaints handling is not just about dealing with things that go wrong, but ensuring that things go right. The Commissioners will help to build a culture of learning from complaints through their oversight and promotion of standards. This focus on the quality of service will undoubtedly benefit both consumers and the profession alike.”
read that here -
Total rubbish from MacAskill after reading your piece on it

Peter Cherbi said...

# Off the wagon @ 9.48am

Yes, the "great debt" is quite a mystery ... could it mean favours to keep regulation firmly in the hands of lawyers ?

# Anonymous @ 10am

Yes, it looks like it, unless more is made publicly of this outrage.

# Anonymous @ 10.16am

I'm surprised they didn't, although I'm sure there is a nice job awaiting him connected with the legal profession in some way.

# Anonymous @ 10.43am


# Anonymous @ 11.13am

Yes, seems I was. It was a simple enough prediction to make though, because consistency is everything in corruption ... and when it comes to self regulating complaints, there can hardly be a greater example of corruption than the way complaints against solicitors are handled.

# Anonymous @ 11.55am

Neither can I.

# Anonymous @ 12.33pm

Much more than the 2.5million or so it was estimated to be ...

# Anonymous @ 1.32pm

Yes, all down to Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill - these are "Ministerial Appointments".

# Anonymous @ 2pm

Agreed & thanks.

# Anonymous @ 2.14pm

Both feet !.

# Anonymous @ 4.44pm

A good comparison.

# Anonymous @ 7.50pm

I agree with you - more must be made of it though.

# Poirot @ 9.30pm

Yes ... no wonder such declarations aren't headlined too much ...

# Anonymous @ 11.09pm

You have a point, but the only stark failure of the SNP I see is actually on Justice - maybe that's down to the man in the driving seat on Justice then ? Time for changing the driver ?

# Anonymous @ 1.13am

Thanks - I hope your MSP makes something of it, and you are correct, this process of stuffing Committees & Commissions full of legal profession allies & stooges has to be exposed and stopped - no matter which political party does it or allows it to happen.

I'm sure the Law Society will handle 'conduct' complaints right into the ground as they always have done - and remember, there is to be no oversight of the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission either ...

# G.McFadyen @ 11.47am

I agree with you entirely.

#Anonymous @ 12.44pm

Well, reading what has happened v what the Justice Secretary said in your referenced quote leaves a lot to answer for ...

Anonymous said...

Fine comments
I think this quango should be scrapped and someone start again with it - this time without the lawyers meddling every step of the way and another lawyer appointing all its members

Anonymous said...

clearly all these f*ckers wont listen to anything and neither will the drunk in charge of the match so it will be left to someone to make them listen said...

How many crooked lawyers have this bunch let off the hook so far and WILL DO AGAIN IN THE FUTURE

Anonymous said...

Hi Peter.

Even though it must feel sometimes like banging your head against a wall I think you have caused a lot of changes for the better so don't loose heart over this little stone in your path which Im sure you are used to by now.

If it hadn't been for you there would be no movement on lawyer complaints so keep up your work

Anonymous said...

A winner never quits, This statement applies to Peter Cherbi.