Monday, December 22, 2008

Complaints Commission 'unfit for purpose' as secret meetings with insurers & pensions take focus over consumer protection against crooked lawyers

SLCC squareScotland's legal complaints quango, otherwise known as the less than 'independent' Scottish Legal Complaints Commission, which received a £2 million gift of taxpayers money from Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill, has spent more time arranging pensions & insurance protection for its members than doing any of the oversight or complaints work it was originally tasked to do.

I reported on the £2 million taxpayer gift to the lawyers complaints quango here : MacAskill silent on taxpayers £2million 'write off' to lawyers quango as Complaints boss reveals Law Society defaulted on levies

Kenny MacAskillKenny MacAskill – ‘£2 million was just a gift to lawyers quango’. Mr MacAskill has now declared he will not seek to recover the millions of pounds of public funds which have in effect been wasted on setting up the less than independent Commission which is more interested in itself than the job at hand.

However, there are now revelations the SLCC is demanding the Scottish Government hand over even more taxpayer funds into the SLCC's pension scheme and further public funds for the SLCC’s website, despite the commission claiming to have received £2.4 million from the Law Society of Scotland as payment for solicitors annual complaints levies to fund the quango.

Pensions junkets at the Scottish Legal Complaints CommissionLegal Complaints quango’s pensions must come first before the work of investigating crooked lawyers or protecting consumers : “It was agreed that the pension benefit will be available from 1st October.There was further discussion around whether staff employed prior to 1st October should qualify for pension benefit prior to the 1st October and whether this would be provided by the Scottish Government. Members clarified that there would be no added increase in SLCC pension contributions for senior staff".

Secret meetings with lawyers insurers & SLAB appointed auditors - SLCCAlso revealed in recently released papers was the fact the Commission held secret meetings with the Master Policy insurers Royal Sun Alliance and Marsh UK, well known for their roles in obstructing consumers access to justice in attempts to sue crooked lawyers, actions which have resulted in countless headlines over the years culminating in the resignation of former Law Society Boss Douglas Mill for his part along with Marsh UK in protecting corrupt solicitors, which you can read more about here : Mill, Marsh & RSA - a recipe for corrupt lawyers insurance

Now, despite meeting the insurers & the Law Society of Scotland in an 'attempt to understand the Master Policy', the Legal Complaints Commission is still dithering on whether it will fulfil its designated "monitoring role" over both the Master Policy and Guarantee Fund, the two financial arrangements put in place by the Law Society of Scotland which are supposed to (but never do) pay out in the event that lawyers embezzle, lose or steal clients funds in well practiced habits which seem to be spiralling out of control with the current credit crunch.

Amazingly, the Commission’s well salaried Chief Executive Eileen Masterman grudgingly admitted after enquiries, the Legal Complaints Commission does not currently have a copy of the Master Policy, and might not even ask for a copy !

Eileen Masterman SLCC Chief Executive Eileen Masterman didn't even bother to obtain the Master Policy papers which the Commission is supposed to oversee : "I am unaware that the SLCC Hold a copy of the Master Policy. Whether or not we seek to obtain such is a matter yet to be decided."

One must ask oneself how the Commission proposes to monitor and oversee the Master Policy and the Guarantee Fund if they don't even have copies of what the actual policy is, what it does, and how it works.

A source at the Scottish Government's Justice Department condemned the SLCC's lack of will to even obtain the Master Policy papers "Probably the Commission and the Law Society are worried if the Master Policy ends up in Masterman's office she will be forced to release it under Freedom of Information if requested to do so"

If the Master Policy is actually released to the public, it will also allow solicitors to see the documents for the first time, as it transpires hardly any Scottish solicitor has actually seen the terms of Master Policy – the Law Society arranged Professional Indemnity Insurance which all solicitors must pay an annual subscription to maintain.

Jane IrvineJane Irvine, the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission’s Chairman was asked for a comment on why the SLCC had not even yet bothered to secure a copy of the Master Policy for its study, despite already having met Marsh, Royal Sun Alliance and the Law Society of Scotland in meetings which were kept from the public.Irvine however, refused to reply over fears the Commission is in such disarray it cannot do its assigned task.

Given the Commission seems unwilling even to ask for a copy of the Master Policy, I have asked Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill to explain the shocking lapses of his ‘Ministerial creation” after being officially informed earlier by his Justice Department the SLCC would be attending to its Master Policy ‘oversight’ role.

Amid the bleak revelations showing the SLCC to be more interested in protecting itself than protecting consumers, the Cabinet Secretary for Finance, John Swinney MSP has waded into the debate on the poor performance of the Commission so far, expressing concerns to constituents of dissatisfaction with the SLCC’s performance to-date.

John SwinneyCabinet Secretary for Finance John Swinney expressed his fears over the lack of the Commission’s will to look into Law Society’s ‘sins of the past’, commenting "It is of great concern that the SLCC are not to look at historic complaints".

Well, Mr Swinney, there is a plan afoot to look at historical complaints, but alas the SLCC are not the people to do it, having too much involvement with the Law Society which clearly prevents them from being impartial in any way whatsoever.

My Petition PE1033, which sought to bring a touch of Truth & Reconciliation to historical complaints against crooked lawyers was of course, killed off by the Law Society of Scotland at Parliamentary stage, so if you could revive that, and help bring an end to the worst era of Scotland’s legal profession, that would be just fine by just about everyone …

Perhaps Mr MacAskill should ask the Commission to return the public money, now they have been paid by the Law Society, and Mr Swinney should take steps to inject motivation into the game of complaints against lawyers. This seems to me, a more sensible, honest, truthful & good governance approach to the issue, doesn’t it ?

So it will be a Merry Christmas for some this year – the members of the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission are receiving an outrageous £300 + per day for appearances, and each member has on average at least two pensions from their previous positions of employment before even getting down to business at the SLCC … so, everyone, think of all that public money getting lavished on ex-cops, lawyers & the like just to mishandle complaints against lawyers in the same way the Law Society has been doing for years … while everyone else in the country is living in fear of being repossessed ….

Finally .. Seasons Greetings to all my readers, friends & colleagues, and especially to all of you who suffer from injustice not only in Scotland, but all around the world.

Hopefully 2009 will ease the plight of some, if the willingness is truly there on the part of politicians to serve the community and bring an end to injustice caused by our discredited legal system. Those same politicians who have the power to help people would do well to remember that coming at least half way to meet the victims of injustice is a step in the right direction …


Anonymous said...

Seriously that is one fucked up quango.Pensions before duty where have we heard that one before !

Anonymous said...

300 quid a day for letting lawyers off the hook is disgusting and what the hell is macaskill doing handing over millions to this lot ? MONEY BACK NOW !

a word in your ear ! said...

I would have thought the best way to resolve all this is to make you head of the SLCC and get rid of the rest who are obviously not doing their job.

Oh and Happy Christmas Peter.Full marks to you for your writing !

Anonymous said...

Simply disgusting.The thing sounds like a money laundering operation to be honest.They certainly dont deserve taxpayers money and I agree with calls it should be handed back.

Anonymous said...

Well I have a complaint I am trying to make with this slcc and still no letter from them after 6 weeks so they might be in the money but they are definitely not doing the work.

Keep up the good work Mr Cherbi and Merry Christmas to you too !

Anonymous said...

Thats what you get for stuffing a quango with ex cops and their buddies Mr MacAskill !

Now throw them all out and put the real people in who can deal with it or was it Kenny's intention to undermine the whole thing from the very start ? A distinct possibility I think we should all look into !

Anonymous said...

Dear Kenny MacAskill.

I would very much like to have this £300 a day for doing sod all while lawyers get away with murder.

How can I apply to receive this great handout ?

Do I have to kiss your ass or bend over and take it up mine ?

Please Mr MacAskill I really think we could all do with £300 a day for doing s.f.a.

Anonymous said...

A good case for getting rid of a quango if ever I saw one !

I go along with those who say put YOU in charge of complaints against lawyers and SHOW THEM NO MERCY JUST THE SAME THEY DO TO US !

Anonymous said...

The point is well made for a change at the SLCC as you point out very well this commission seems to have been taken over by vested interests for their own ends.

People may also be asking themselves how many pensions do these people really deserve ?

Anonymous said...

I used to care about protecting others and I still do but these same people I was trying to protect were trying to harm or kill me. I don't think there is a manon the face of this earth that has enough guts to stand up to these people who have lied. I feel very disppointed by eveyone and everything. I think some things but I can't even say what I think because it might offend someone who can't listen to the truth. the way it appears and the way it is, is very different from how it was supposed to be. I mean all those years my father, mother and other relatives worked for just a few and mostly not even her own desires and someone else have got the property and the money. it is odd. I don't feel like anyone is behind me. I have told the truth and stood against the corruption and yet i haven't seen anyone do the same. it is so odd.

Anonymous said...

I am going to put my faith in my brother wes. it is all I can do at this point. I know he is a good guy. that is all I can do. he has the power now

Anonymous said...

I agree Peter - the commission certainly is unfit for purpose and wont do a damn thing to help any client of a bent lawyer

I do like your take on their pensions ! Looks like feathering their own nests comes before helping the people they are supposed to be helping

Anonymous said...

A splendid report on things Peter and I was talking about this tonight with some friends.You seem to be the only writer capable of taking on lawyers these days !

I hope you have a good festive season and here's 3 cheers for your blog ! Hip Hip Hooray ! x3

Anonymous said...

MacAskill is clearly not fit to clean the toilets of a public building let alone represent the public.

It is a disgrace that Salmond and Swinney continue to support him by their deafening silence.

Menawhile Eileen Masterman and Jane Irvine's dithering over obtaining a copy of the Master Policy just confirm what all other evidence points to - they are waiting to be told what to do, and when.

Hit them where it hurts and don't vote SNP.

Merry Christmas Mr Cherbi said...

I couldn't help but have a wee chuckle at "Dear Mr MacAskill" from 11:25pm!

As a poster commented with Peter's previous article :

"The SNP certainly have no interest in helping their fellow Scots currently suffering injustice and miscarriages of justice, as MacAskill's behaviour on Thursday 4 December proves to the world beyond any doubt :

He is one very cruel, very uncaring and very corrupt Cabinet Secretary FOR INjustice ... and needs to be gone asap ... for the benefit of the many injustice victims out there and Scotland as a whole."


Merry Christmas Mr Cherbi. May good health, prosper, luck, fortune and justice be bestowed upon you and yours (and ALL your readers currently suffering injustice in Scotland and beyond) during 2009. You deserve it.

Lang may yer lumb reek, wi aither folks coal.

Later ... Bestest...

You know who ... ShhhHHH!

Anonymous said...

If John Swinney is so concerned about the slcc not doing anything on historical complaints will he put his words into action and take on your petition ?

I think your blog should be required reading for anyone who uses a lawyer.Good luck for 2009 and Happy Christmas Mr Cherbi !

Anonymous said...

Mr Cherbi I have read your report on this sllcc and I am very concerned myself because the Law Society has been delaying a complaint against my solicitor for 2 years who stole 12,269 from my bank account by way of his forging a cheque in my name with my signature.The Police became involved and after that the Law Society said it would do nothing until they decide what to do and still nothing happens after 2 years!

Anonymous said...

Merry Christmas Peter,

Cheers:) LB.

Anonymous said...

I too am disgusted by this quango going after pensions before helping victims of crooked lawyers but what can we do ? I'm sick and fed up of hearing about bent lawyers really and wish someone would really sort one out to make examples maybe if they knew their clients wouldnt sit back and ruin their own lives having to write lots of letters and do something more then they might not steal from so many of them

Peter Cherbi said...

Thanks for all your comments on this article and like many of you I am also concerened as to what is going on ate the SLCC.

I fear it has already become worse than the organisation it is intended to oversee, that being the Law Society of Scotland.

While Mr Swinney's comment is factual, I await to see concrete action on Ministers part to draw to an end the worst period of history in the Scots legal profession, by giving the legal profession's 'sins of the past' a clean up, and making sure such injustice never happens again.

I hope you all have a good festive season, and to those who have emailed me about their cases I will contact you all as time permits.

Take back your dignity people ! said...

I agree with the comment before yours Peter.People are fed up of being taken to the cleaners by lawyers banks and just about anyone who has a friend in high places.
Stop being a slave to these legal mafia organised complaints systems and go claim back your money or whatever has been stolen from you! Would you start writing letters to the Police if your house was burgled ? Hell no ! Get out there and take it back instead of letting them get away with it !

Anonymous said...

Best wishes to you for Christmas ! You are my hero !

Anonymous said...

Law Society looks like they have done afine job with this slcc to protect bent lawyers eh
Why dont clients rise up then and do soemething against their bent lawyers its better than getting involved with crooked quangos what wont do anytyhing to help

Anonymous said...

I hope you had a good Christmas and just write to tell you if it had not been for your blog I think my lawyer would have ruined my life too.
Thanks for warning about how bad they really are and take heart you probably saved more than me from going into the lions den with crooks.
Good luck for 2009!

Anonymous said...

I wish I could hire someone like yourself but I can see that isn't easy. I want someone who is human but also someone who will tell me the truth.. Imagine this, your mother dies and other family members take over. they all lie to you and you are stuck in the lies. any time you try to get to the truth you find yourself in a domestic violent situation. Finally the same people who over took your mother and father infiltrate your business to a sense they monitor your phones, your emials, you mail, and everything you do so you never get the truth. they mix you up throrow you around until you are so confused you don't know where to turn and what to do. you are taking drugs that are prescritpion but you have to take more and more to kill the pain. they cut off access to whatever truth you can find or financial help. they are abussive and so you will do whatever you can to get awawy. at your most dyer moments they make you sign something that you can't even read or comprehend. You tell your employer and they say it is just for medical insurance so I can get my tetth fix. I sign but then they refuse to give me a copy. now you try and get a copy and thye won't give it too you and right after that you are kicked out on the streets and forced to go to a womans shelter called rrachaels in san diego where they feed you a poison called vioxx. if it hadn't a been for my eating disorder I wouldn't have known that the drug was making me bleed so heavily internally and causeing me to be deepress. My eating disorder showed me that I was bleeding. this is what happened to me after almost being beaten to death by my ex. this is what allen and others did and whatever I signed gave them something from the estate. he wasnted me dead. someothing was wrong.

Anonymous said...

I was so scared that I gave a power of attorney to someone from chris hill's atotnrey firm a tomas rallo in new port beach. chris told me it was dale trying to kill me and that he couldn't help me without a power of attorney. I was so scared and out of my mind at the time and didn't understand what a power of attorney did. what a mistake. I am sorry I did that and had been beaten and tortured so badly and they got somehting but I don't know what. this is the trutt. I was beaten, drug, stalked, harassed you name it. and now I am in a prison. carrie

Anonymous said...

eveyone knows that you can psychologically abuse someone and torture someone so much that they will do crazy things. People also know that you can do a serious of mentally, psychological, and also financially abussive things and they will eventually crack. that is what happened to me. I lost my mind becuase of what they had done to me. I have written my story and given it to the authorites, the church, the fbi and everyone I could think of and they don't care. as you know there is no money in it. these people embezzeled my mother and father's estate. they did it slowly, with this is mind. I have no where to turn. they made sure they turned everyone against me, then did a number of things to me. I just wanted you to know that I appreciate your comments and your candid wording. For the first time in my life, I have found some truth. I hope to win this battle but it is a hard one to fight. carrie