Thursday, October 09, 2008

Cabinet Secretary Swinney admits Law Society is 'vigorously resisting' reforms to regulation of legal profession as client protection fails once more

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's admission on regulation of legal professionJohn 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."

SLCC squareMr 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 :

Petition PE 1033 - A call for action, review & settlement for victims of the Scottish legal profession's injustice against client complaints.

Michael Clancy - Director of Law Reform - Law Society of ScotlandMichael 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 :

Law Society kills Petition PE1033 amid calls for review of injustice & regulatory sins of the past

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 :

Truth & reconciliation fails as MacAskill follows Law Society orders to Parliament on attempt to heal public confidence in legal profession

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 :

The polluter pays - Why cleaning up lawyers sins of the past would be good for the public & legal profession alike

John SwinneyJohn Swinney fought against crooked lawyers as an MSP but its time to come off the fence now he’s in Government and help the victims he acknowledges the legal profession has mistreated

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 ...

21 comments:

Anonymous said...

If Swinney wrote that after he became a minister he will be in trouble with the lawyers.Poor chap for telling us what we already know - lawyers are scum and not to be trusted like the banks !

Anonymous said...

"Oh sorry can't help you one little bit but you have achieved a lot now go and drop dead" which is what Swinney basically said to whoever that is.

Not much help is it.

Anonymous said...

I know you support John Swinney but did he write that just to clear his own conscience ?

If he is willing to go as far as he has he should finish the job and not leave all of you in the lurch.

Good work and keep it up although I wouldn't be surprised if Mr Swinney is not terribly happy about your story!

Anonymous said...

I like your petition Mr Cherbi.It's a pity Mr Swinney didn't support that given his own fairly hypocritical views.

Anonymous said...

Mr weird looking Clancy will be calling John Swinney right now to shut him up with a few threats.

Anonymous said...

If John Swinney can admit what we all know is going on with lawyers ripping people off then his idiot colleague MacAskill should be doing the same.

Anonymous said...

Put your tabloid friends onto Clancy and he wont be sitting in front of any more committees

Anonymous said...

You write a good story Mr Cherbi but all this letter shows is that John Swinney is only willing to go so far against the legal profession for this Mr Mackenzie who I take it is the same person mentioned in the Douglas Mill memo.

Has Mr Swinney also been kneecapped by the Law Society into doing nothing ?

Anonymous said...

Well I don't think much of John Swinney at all after reading his letter.Who the hell is he to sit back and do nothing after all he is supposed to have said and done on this.Is this another SNP turn around just because they need the lawyers to survive in government when they don't deserve to be there.
All he is doing is trying to justify his letting down of those people he was or is supposed to be helping

nameless wonder said...

Clancy is not liked and Swinney could do more than he is doing.

Anyway with all these crooked lawyers around Peter haven't you thought about starting your own law firm?

Anonymous said...

That Clancy guy looks awfully odd !

Anonymous said...

So would it be safe to assume that after whenever John Swinney wrote that letter he has been threatened by the legal profession and has had to stop helping your cause?

Anonymous said...

A very unsatisfavroty performance from John Swinney almost akin to a hit and run.I'm sure the legal profession wont forget him in a hurry though.

Anonymous said...

If the SLCC, Swinney, MacAskill and Salmond are prepared to overlook the wrongs done to those prior to October what confidence can anyone have in the 'new', 'independent' SLCC?

Given that the majority of its staff are former Law Society employees and the Board contains no properly indepndent public representation the answer is clear - absolutely none.

wee rab said...

Pleased to see John Swinney actually admits something we all know - that lawyers are scum and will do anything to get where they want to be.

Anonymous said...

All in all a good story Peter.

Mr Swinney admits there is still no help for anyone who has been wronged by their lawyer so what does he intend to do about it ?

I also agree with those who say he is not impressive in his letter.If I was the recipient of that I think I would be heading round to his office for a chat with the tv cameras.

Anonymous said...

I bet Swinney's career will take a downturn after this one because the Law Society will be out to get him now

Anonymous said...

Wow.It must have taken a pretty cold heart to write a letter like that to whoever this Swinney bloke was helping.

Pretty bum deal huh in Scotland.Not what I thought went on there more like the 3rd world !

Anonymous said...

I really don't think much of John Swinney after reading this.What does he intend to do about it now he admits the whole thing?

Anonymous said...

It must be disappointing to read that kind of letter from the man who helped bring down Mill.
Maybe he should go a little further and actually do something since he is in Government and doesnt have the 'being in opposition' excuse any more.

Anonymous said...

A good report Peter.I don't see this slcc as being much cop to coin a phrase and on the subject of cops there seems to be a lot of ex-cops at the slcc.
Why is that exactly?