Constituents of John Swinney, as well as thousands more in a stunning admission by the Cabinet Secretary himself, the Scottish legal profession has vigorously resisted reforms to regulation of complaints against lawyers but these changes still do not address the 'sins of the past' including some of the largest scandals in Scots legal history, which the Law Society and even the new Scottish Legal Complaints Commission are demanding should be buried without atonement.
John Swinney : 'New legislation is no aid to most victims of crooked lawyers' "Finally I would reiterate my view that you have achieved a great deal in this case, not last more stringent legislation in the field of complaints about the legal profession. I know that does not address your own circumstances, but you should be aware of the significant impact of your intervention has had on delivering change that was vigorously resisted by the legal profession but was long overdue."
Mr Swinney is indeed correct in that the Legal Profession & Legal Aid (Scotland) Bill 2007, which created the 'independent' but now co-opted Scottish Legal Complaints Commission, will be of no help to thousands of Scottish victims of crooked lawyers, which the SLCC has abandoned by ruling it will not investigate or handle cases of complaints against 'crooked lawyers' before 1st October 2008.
There have been attempts to change the stubborn resistance of the SLCC to address the Law Society's sins of the past, where for my own part, I raised Petition PE1033, as a gesture to employ a procedure of "Truth & Reconciliation" where either the SLCC or a new Commission formed comprising individuals independent of the legal profession would consider the past and many cases where members of the public have been ruined by Scottish solicitors, with the Law Society rather letting the crooked lawyer off the hook than doing something for the client.
You can read more about Petition PE1033 here :
Michael Clancy ‘killed off law reform proposals’ … However, Petition PE1033 was one step too far for the Law Society of Scotland, who, via their Director of Law Reform Michael Clancy, ordered the Scottish Parliament to terminate PE1033 just in case the idea caught on. You can read more about the Law Society's "vigorous resistance" to the Truth & Reconciliation idea here :
and not content with allowing the Law society to kill off the idea to heal the legal profession’s sins of the past, the Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill joined in and made sure there would be no further help to the many victims of crooked lawyers :
Given what has happened recently to the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission, which is now staffed mostly by former Law Society staff .. I doubt the Commission as it currently stands could ever find a place in a truth & reconciliation role.
The fact the SLCC is now staffed by ex-Police officers, ex-Law Society Committee members, and is operating under an unwilling attitude to acknowledge the failings of the past are not a good recipe for engaging in the idea of truth & reconciliation ... in fact, I would call it a very backward step coming from the legal profession’s policy of “vigorous resistance” as Mr Swinney admits himself, which has served the Law Society of Scotland very well in avoiding having to deal with reforms to regulation and the way it operates in general.
However, it is still a fact that if the legal profession’s ‘sins of the past’ were to be tackled, and admitted as Mr Swinney seems to be doing himself, there would be great benefits to all in Scotland, as I wrote in an earlier article here :
While Mr Swinney in his Cabinet Secretary role obviously feels comfortable to admit the legal profession is dishonest when it comes to regulation, it is surely unacceptable for the Government to continue to allow thousands of victims of crooked lawyers to go without help .. simply because of alleged taunts from the Law Society they will challenge the Government if any effort to remedy the sins of the past is made ...