Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Legal Profession bill has little potential for change as Justice Secretary indicates no will to reform legal services

Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill believes that lawyers should be trusted to regulate themselves and continue to run the ever important legal services market as a monopoly, despite the promise of the Legal Profession Bill, which aims to open up the public's access to justice after intervention from the OFT last year.

Mr MacAskill's all too easy dismissal of any further regulation or consumer protection against scandals in the legal world similar to those which have recently rocked the banking world, is echoed in the Scottish Government's questionable willingness to adopt the Law Society's edicts on the proposed legislation, which has now been almost completely hijacked by lawyers and vested interests from the legal establishment.

Kenny MacAskillKenny MacAskill – little independence from the Law Society of Scotland : "Our starting point for the Bill is to develop the proposals put forward by the Law Society and Faculty of Advocates earlier this year. Rather than ruling in or ruling out particular business models, I agree with the Law Society that the way forward is to concentrate on developing a robust system of regulation.”

So, from that early start, one can conclude fairly easily there will be not too much hope of anyone else getting much of a say in how to open the legal services market in Scotland if the Law Society has its way ... which certainly seems to be the case.

Mr MacAskill himself a solicitor, has spoken before of his muddled views, which have clearly indicated he and the SNP have no wish or desire to open the legal services market, preferring rather to keep it a closed shop for lawyers.

You can read more about Mr MacAskill's varying protectionist policy for legal services here : Justice Secretary rejects independent regulation of lawyers and public right of choice in legal services market

Mr MacAskill also lets slip his attitude against any increased regulation of the legal services sector, something the Law Society of Scotland is campaigning to retain sole regulatory power over by itself

Kenny MacAskill : "I have always been clear that the regulatory framework must be proportionate to the size and scope of the legal services market in Scotland. We must guard against having too many bodies and unnecessary tiers of regulation."

The Justice Secretary's view on regulation is certainly outdated in view of the recent financial crisis which crushed most of the UK's banks into nationalisation, effectively coming about due to poor regulatory structures which allowed banks and lenders to operate almost as they pleased, risking the publics money and now having to be bailed out by the taxpayer.

Mr Macaskill went on “This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to create a more flexible and modern regulatory framework for legal services – but one which protects the profession's core values. The profession's commitments to service, probity and excellence are centuries old, but as relevant as ever."

Yes, quite right Mr MacAskill, a once in a generation opportunity, which you are not going to allow the rest of Scotland to enjoy, simply because the needs of the Law Society and the business of litigation must take preference over the public interest.

A suitable example of Mr MacAskill’s idea of a ‘flexible and modern regulatory framework’ can be found here : Call for MacAskill appointments 'sleaze investigation' as revelations show Legal Complaints Commission member was subject of Police inquiry

Kenny MacAskill – A debt too far from the SNP for lawyers ?


The remainder of Mr MacAskill's speech doesn't deviate much from the protectionist line for his colleagues in the legal profession, and indicates a Justice Secretary who only serves the needs of lawyers and their pockets, rather than putting the public's right of access to justice first.

In Kenny MacAskill's world, it will still be the legal profession who decide if you have a right of access to legal services, rather than you having a choice of legal services ... and that is most definitely not in the public interest .. is it …

The Scotsman reports (Kenny MacAskill)

Kenny MacAskill: Time to embrace change and face the future boldly

THE Scottish Government is committed to a strong and independent legal profession that can compete internationally, and a legal system which is part of the supportive environment for Scotland's businesses.

At a time of great challenges for the profession, it is even more important that it can grasp opportunities to develop new business and serve the public in new ways.

We have recently concluded our consultation on reforms to Scotland's arbitration legislation, which forms part of our drive to make Scotland a centre of excellence for arbitration and other forms of dispute resolution. I have also established a group of legal and business experts to look at how Scotland's legal system can be more attractive to businesses, and I look forward to their report in the next few weeks.

But the cornerstone of our strategy is the Legal Profession Bill, which was announced as part of this year's legislative programme.

The Bill will free up the profession to organise itself differently, to offer services to the public alongside other professionals, and to seek alternative sources of financial support to grow their business.

This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to create a more flexible and modern regulatory framework for legal services – but one which protects the profession's core values. The profession's commitments to service, probity and excellence are centuries old, but as relevant as ever.

Our starting point for the Bill is to develop the proposals put forward by the Law Society and Faculty of Advocates earlier this year. Rather than ruling in or ruling out particular business models, I agree with the Law Society that the way forward is to concentrate on developing a robust system of regulation.

I have always been clear that the regulatory framework must be proportionate to the size and scope of the legal services market in Scotland. We must guard against having too many bodies and unnecessary tiers of regulation.

Regulation should also avoid any potential to confuse or disadvantage consumers where there are new structures which may bring together different professions.

That is a complex challenge, but one I am sure we can meet. I have been greatly encouraged by the willingness of the Law Society and the Faculty to embrace change, and I am determined to maintain the pace of reform in the coming months.

I intend to consult widely on the Government's proposals to allow new business structures to deliver legal services. But before putting these to the Scottish people I have asked some of the country's leading legal and consumer experts to join a new consultative group set up to explore these issues.

That group will help us shape a robust regulatory regime that will allow alternative business structures to operate in an open, transparent and accessible way in Scotland's legal services market.

As well as the president of the Law Society of Scotland, the dean of the Faculty of Advocates and the chief executive of the Scottish Legal Aid Board, leading officials from Consumer Focus Scotland and the Office of Fair Trading are taking part in this exercise, as is Professor Alan Paterson of Strathclyde University.

The group met for the first time on 8 October and made good initial progress. Issues being considered by it include how best to protect the core values of the legal profession and ensure a high quality of service; how to regulate firms that combine legal and other professional services; and how best to support access to justice in the new environment.

The group's deliberations will, together with views offered by other interested stakeholders, inform the public consultation which is expected to be held early next year, with the Bill expected to be introduced later in 2009.

The current economic situation is making life difficult for lawyers, just as it is for many businesses and families.

In that environment, the temptation is to resist change and seek safety in familiar ways of working. I believe we must do the opposite – be ready to embrace change and face the future boldly.

If we do, I have no doubt that the profession which has served Scotland so well over the last 300 and more years will continue to do so for decades to come.

• Kenny MacAskill is the Scottish justice secretary.

19 comments:

Anonymous said...

MacAskill can't be trusted - hes a LAWYER !

Poirot said...

Relax Peter.I think the Scotsman just gave Kenny the chance to sound like a lawyer and he walked right into it as he always does.
No one really pays attention to him anyway especially after some of your exposes of him.

Good work and keen it up my friend

Anonymous said...

When it suits him the so-called Justice Minister claims that the Scottish Legal Profession is a major earner of income for the Scottish economy and must be left to get on with its business.

Suddenly though, when it comes to anything approaching independent regulation, the legal community in his opinion is too small to be overloaded with regulatory bodies.

MacAskill MUST GO.

Anonymous said...

phew Kenny is full of shit if you ask me and what is all this crap about owing the legal profession a big debt ?
did the Law Society sub the SNP to get them into Government ? Is that what he is talking about ?
Sack him for the good of us all except his bloody lawyer friends who are waiting to rape our wallets

Anonymous said...

I don't believe Kenny wants to upset his masters at the Law Society and this "Legal Profession" bill will be only for their benefit - probably why it has been called the Legal Profession Bill instead of the Legal Services bill !

Anonymous said...

I don't know where MacAskill is coming from on this debt owed to the legal profession by the Scottish Government but I can assure you as an SNP member who values Scotland I would never sell us out to a pack of rats such as the legal profession.

I suggest Boss man Alex gives Kenny the shove and soonish.

Anonymous said...

Interesting.I think I prefer Cherbi's version to MacAskill's twaddle.
Why do we need to have a lawyer as a Justice Minister anyway ?
Shouldn't the post be held by someone who isn't so obviously trying to protect his mates back pockets ?

Anonymous said...

What Keny wants for himself isn't necessarily good for the rest of us.
Giving lawyers a free hand isn't good for the rest of us that much is sure !

wee frees said...

Yes its sad but true - even the SNP's spin doctors cant stop McAskill making an arse of himself in the newspapers which is exactly what he did.
I like your video Mr Cherbi.What MacAskill said in those few seconds totally blew away any credibility he will ever have on the argument about crooked lawyers !

Anonymous said...

Kenny MacAskill is doing a fine job of protecting lawyers but screwing the rest of us while doing so.But as you point out he is a lawyer so that's to be expected.Best rid of him like everyone says.

MacAskill oot ! said...

Good stuff.The Lawyers National Party is doing very well for themselves and a big fuck you to anyone who wants better regulation despite the banks problems which are probably just as bad as the lawyers.

Get him oot son !

Anonymous said...

Yes I saw this in the Scotsman on Monday.Total trash from MacAskill as usual and as someone else said maybe the paper just featured it to remind us all how useless he is in his post.

Anonymous said...

Thanks.I had a good read of MacAskill's rant.I don't believe he will do anything for anyone other than lawyers.He is unconvincing all the way and as you point out he has changed his mind on this opening the legal market several times.He obviously doesn't want to do it and that's that.Lying about it in newspapers will only make it worse.

Anonymous said...

Don't worry Peter.Its the SNP conference in Perth today and I'm sure there will be plenty palm pressing by MacAskill and chums with the lawyers for more back pocket funding which is probably what his bullshit story in the scotsman was all about !

Anonymous said...

you knwo that which is corrupt cannot be made incorrupt. they suffocated my mother to death over a 2 year period and despite my efforts I have gotten nowhere against the system. I have to worry if this will be my fate. I don't understand why my family has not even responded. I never went with the grain but against it. I had too because it was so wrong. Because of it there was so much corruption that went on that it is impossible to break through. I hope my brother willr espond but I don't know

Anonymous said...

I hav notified the courts in california about my mother and what her will said and that these people aren't entitled tot he property and moeny they were supposed to only manage and used betrayal, deception and corruption to make gaines. now it is up to them.

Anonymous said...

the only rights dale has are ones that were divorces. he asked for it and now he has them. he has no rights left. I have divorces form bnoth. his system of lies and deception are going down now. the courts know the truth. so does my m\brother and the courts here. I have told the courts that it is my mother and that I was the main benefactor of her estate adn how others have used me to gain power they weren't enetitled too also have gotten education witht eh money just so that they could steal from me what my mtoher has left. how is that fair. someone who isn't even in her will to get the money that she left for me.

Anonymous said...

you don't understand. these people ripped my mother inheritance off and were rewarded for hurting her and me. they got favor with others for the wrong they did to her and to me. I am a product of corruption. these lawyers were given cart blanche oppotunities because they were being funded by the corruption. the same cirruption that swindled my mother out of her inheritance. this goes back to the 1960's and it became a way of life for them. inhibit this person or that person because we ripped her off and you will get a promotion. this is what these people did.

Anonymous said...

you need to read fighting the probate mafia. they submitted aphoney will and now one btohered to ever tell me. no one.