Monday, March 16, 2009

MacAskill must clean up law complaints body as members 'booze culture conduct' reflects lack of discipline & will to investigate crooked lawyers

SLCC squareScottish Legal Complaints Commission has lost credibility. Stunning revelations in the weekend media coming on top of my article of last Thursday on further scandals at the SLCC show that senior law figures within the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission who were personally appointed by Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill, appeared to have taken the ‘booze culture’ into their duties at the multi million pound joint taxpayer & lawyer funded independent’ SLCC which is supposed to deal with complaints against lawyers.

0011Margaret Scanlan was ‘on the razzle again’ while clients of ‘crooked lawyers’ burned. Yesterday, the Sunday Mail newspaper featured email correspondence obtained under Freedom of Information laws in which SLCC board member Margaret Scanlan, a solicitor with Russells Gibson McCaffrey in Glasgow, confessed to the Commission she was suffering from the effects of a hangover after being “'out on the razzle again last night”. Stunningly Scanlan in her emails then went on to tear apart consumers hopes the SLCC would fulfil its intended monitoring role of the ‘crooked lawyer compensation schemes, operated by the Law Society of Scotland, known as the Guarantee Fund & Master Insurance Policy which are designed to (but do not) protect consumers funds from crooked lawyers who steal money or mishandling client’s legal affairs.

Margaret Scanlan : “Was out on the razzle, again, last night so bit cross-eyed this morning. Please excuse any consequent gibberish. Here are my comments on Master Policy and Guarantee Fund…. The consultation should be viewed with some caution. It provides very little by way of a sound evidential basis for us to do anything…. One unidentified responded … reports complaints about difficulty in finding solicitors to pursue a claim under MP (Master Policy). Apart from fundamental misunderstandings about MP which is for benefit of practitioner and in respect of which consumer has no rights ..”

So, despite suffering from a hangover after ‘being on the razzle’, there was still time for SLCC board members to throw the public out the door once again on rights against crooked lawyers … but even worse was to come as new emails reveal a more serious scandal :

0012Margaret Scanlan condemns claimants against crooked lawyers as “chancers”. However, further emails from Margaret Scanlan have now emerged which depict the same Law Society style 'anti-consumer-anti-claims culture' operating at the supposedly independent Legal Complaints Commission, where Scanlan stunningly labels claimants to the Guarantee Fund as "chancers" indicating she may have personal knowledge of cases, despite the fact that claims to the Guarantee Fund are supposedly confidential.

Margaret Scanlan : "The only complaints I am aware of on the functioning and extent of the GF have come from corporate bodies eg lending Institutions whose claims have largely not been entertained on basis that is not what GF is for. This includes our friend **** (censored) whose cause is vigorously esposed by **** (censored) but is a complete chancer in my opinion."

Margaret Scanlan's comments, directed against a claimant to the Guarantee Fund, appear to reflect a level of feeling many at the Law Society of Scotland are known to have against members of the public who dare to either complain or make a claim for damages against their rogue lawyer. More seriously, Scanlan's email comments in her capacity as an SLCC board member may have potentially damaged claims to the Guarantee Fund, and sources say today, she could face the possibility of legal action over her comments disparaging the individual involved in the claim she was referring to.

A legal insider hit out at Scanlan's comments against claimants to the Guarantee Fund, claiming her words "were wholly out of place and since the SLCC hadn't even began its monitoring role of the Guarantee Fund & Master Policy, the comments against an actual claim should not have been made."

He went on "There is an all-out attempt by the Law Society of Scotland and the insurers to block any substantial monitoring by the 'independent' commission of the Guarantee Fund & Master Insurance Policy. Many meetings have taken place already between the senior members of the SLCC, the insurers, and the Law Society, who have put the profession’s own views forward on how the fund & insurance operates "perfectly well" in their own eyes."

"People who have actually tried to make a claim against the Master Policy or the Guarantee Fund have been blocked from attending the SLCC to give their actual real life experiences on what happened to their claims, probably because most financial claims against solicitors fail due to Law Society meddling with clients legal teams and court access which obviously no one wants to hear about at the commission."

The legal profession’s ‘point of view’ on how the Master Insurance Policy actually operates, is as you know, slightly askew from the truth of the matter, which I have reported previously in articles such as the following : Law Society boss Mill lied to Swinney, Parliament as secret memos reveal policy of intervention & obstruction on claims, complaints.

Eileen MastermanEileen Masterman, SLCC Chief Exec. Insiders to the SLCC reported over the weekend that Eileen Masterman, the SLCC’s Chief Executive apparently did not reprimand the poor conduct of board members, and rather than keeping above the bitter exchanges, agreed with lawyers hostile sentiments towards consumer groups. It is worth noting Eileen Masterman had a long history of involvement with the Law Society of Scotland prior to her joining the SLCC as Chief Executive, having actually served on Law Society committees on the flawed regulator which the SLCC was designed to replace.

MacAskill tight lippedJustice Secretary MacAskill appointed ‘on the razzle’ hung-over lawyers to the SLCC. Given the state the SLCC currently finds itself, where decisions taken by Mr MacAskill's appointees have restricted its investigations of consumer complaints against crooked lawyers to issues which occur only after 1st October 2008, millions of pounds of taxpayers money has evidently been wasted on a commission which is self serving, and has no obvious intention to deal with the sins of the legal profession, which the Law Society of Scotland has so far failed to clear up after decades of being the self regulator of all Scottish lawyers.

A client of a solicitor the Law Society is currently investigating over complaints of poor service & severe misconduct agreed the SLCC needs to be reformed in the wake of recent scandals and said “This SLCC is just another version of the Law Society and is full of lawyers and others who just want to close ranks with their legal world friends no matter how crooked they are.This commission needs to be cleaned up and made to do what it is supposed to be doing, not what the Law Society and crooked lawyers want it to do.”

One solicitor today who did not wish to be named said the comments against the Guarantee Fund claimant made by Scanlan in her capacity as an SLCC board member may amount to possible defamation of the so-far unidentified claimant, who now faces the prospect their claim against the Guarantee Fund will not be met.

He said “There may be cause for the claimant to sue the SLCC for damages over the Board members accusations. At the very least the matter merits a full investigation and an apology to whoever Margaret felt strongly enough to refer to in this way in her emails.”

While recent news leaks show SLCC board members engaged in some kind of free for all party-on approach to their duties & mission to offer increased consumer protection against crooked lawyers, I would remind you all from two previous articles the same board members were quick enough to threaten resignation if they didn’t secure greater perks from the taxpayer, such as personal insurance cover and increased pensions, which you can read here :

Legal Complaints Commission in crisis amid funds shortage & resignation threats over lack of insurance protection &

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

I’d say the conduct of the SLCC to-date is evidence enough if more were needed the SLCC needs a clean up of its present structure which appears biased towards the legal profession it was put there to regulate, and a representative element from consumer organisations & actual users of legal services added to its staff & board.

The Sunday Mail reports :

Margaret Scanlan - Called to the Bars - Sunday Mail  15 March 2009 email Called to the Bars : Top lawyer admits talking gibberish at work due to hangover

Mar 15 2009 By David Taylor

A TOP legal watchdog admitted to her boss she was talking gibberish - because of a hangover. Lawyer Margaret Scanlan made the confession in a email which described herself as "cross-eyed" after a night on the tiles.

Scanlan was appointed to her job in the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission by anti-booze crusader Kenny MacAskill. She wrote: "Was out on the razzle, again, last night so bit cross-eyed this morning. Please excuse any consequent gibberish."

Divorce lawyer Scanlan sent the lengthy email at 11.30am one day in November last year to watchdog chief Eileen Masterman. It was also copied to Alan Paterson, a law professor at Strathclyde University.

Campaigner Peter Cherbi, who champions legal and consumer issues, said: "This is not the sort of service the people of Scotland deserve. "It's not very good conduct for people who are supposed to be in some of the most respectable positions in the legal profession."

Scanlan was hand picked by Justice Secretary MacAskill as one of five lawyers to serve on the SLCC - a "one-stop shop" for complaints against lawyers. MacAskill plans to enforce mimimum prices for drink to combat alcoholism and drink-related problems.

The SLCC was set up by the Scottish Government to "modernise the legal complaints" system and ensure gripes are resolved quickly and effectively. It was formed after complaints that self-regulation by the Law Society of Scotland often protected crooked lawyers through cronyism.

Scanlan's email - about an insurance policy to cover solicitors' mistakes and misuse of clients' cash - was released to legal reform campaigners through a Freedom of Information request. The request also released emails from Scanlan attacking outspoken legal reform group Scotland Against Crooked Lawyers.

In one email, she wrote: "I would prefer that we not give any recognition to SACL. "I do not see why we have to name them even if we are bound to engage with them. "Their website is offensive and so far as I am aware no reputable organisations has anything to do with them"

Scanlan is a specialist in family law at Glasgow-based Russells Gibson McCaffrey.

She has also tutored in family law at Glasgow Caledonian University and was deputy chair of the Scottish Legal Aid Board between 1997 and 2007. She was also director of the Legal Defence Union between 1998 and 2002. She earns £350 a day plus expenses for her work with the SLCC.

When asked about the emails, Scanlan told us: "I have nothing to say."

50 comments:

Anonymous said...

Good one Peter and congrats on the coverage.
I think those you named should be sacked and MacAskill too by the looks of it !

Keep up the good work !

Anonymous said...

Clearly MacAskill & Co are perfectly content to see the travesty which passes for regulation of the legal profession in Scotland descend into farce.

Those responsible are obviously rotten to the core and only an immediate end to the legal profession's monopoly and its self regulation can change that.

Stand up the OFT, the Competition Commission, the SCC as was, and Which magazine. Do your job, now!

Anonymous said...

drunk on the job can get some people sacked !

Anonymous said...

so the big issue is Will one boozer (MacAskill) sack the other (Scanlan) !

Anonymous said...

LOL she has an OBE too !

Anonymous said...

Good work Peter, you deserve an award for championing the rights of the public against those who continue to harm to the public with impunity.

It is clear to me that the likes of Margaret Scanlan have been carefully chosen by the Law Society and McKaskill to form the opinion of the SLCC to one which is designed to protect the corrupt Law Society of Scotland and to continue to allow crooked solicitors to avoid the consequences of their actions.

There is nothing in the emails to suggest that the SLCC are equitable in their approach but more concerned with hammering the clients into the ground to protect the crooked lawyers.

Interesting that Banks have claimed against the GF!

It is somewhat alarming that it is common knowledge that amongst Margaret Scanlans colleagues the Banks Claims against the GF have been rejected!

The question here should be, in what circumstances have banks made a claim against the GF?

Are these GF claims by banks as a result of theft by solicitors from their firms Client's Account?

Judy

Anonymous said...

alright for some isn't it if they can get away with this they can get away with anything

sick

Anonymous said...

Peter, since the Scottish Government is allowing the cavalier abuse of the the common law rights of the public, is it now time to take this up with the privvy council?

I have issue with the judgement of the head of the SLCC.

How can she accept a member who openly admits turning up to work pissed as someone who can be relied upon, especially as SHE is taking tax payers money under false pretences, especially with respect to her comments about banks!

Double standards is a common theme?

Judy

A.C. 'Rooked' Lawyer said...

Hey Peter I'm really impressed !

You,MI5,GCHQ,the Police and the Press are all reading our emails ! Damn !

There's no escape for crooked lawyers anymore !

Anonymous said...

There is something very sinister about that second email from Scanlan which needs to be examined at a level higher than the SLCC.

Perhaps as you suggest this commission needs oversight of its own workings and I agree with those who say Scanlan and her kind should be sacked from it.

Anonymous said...

An utter disgrace to say the least after all that money went into it.

I agree you should be on it but I doubt the lawyers would agree to that one as you are probably their nemesis !

Good work as always.keep it up

Peter Cherbi said...

# Anonymous @ 12.11pm

Thanks, and I agree with your comment.

# Anonymous @ 12.24pm

Yes I agree. The SLCC has been set up to fail from the very start and MacAskill is the man responsible for its failures which are by design.

The OFT, Consumer Focus Scotland and Which? should be more vocal on the SLCC's failures to-date .. unless of course, someone has warned them off ...

# Judy @ 1.24pm

Thanks for your compliment & comment.

I agree with what you say, and the interesting points you raise on the Guarantee Fund claims,

I have presently just received more information on these matters which will be reported on the blog in due course. From what I am reading before me, I would say the Douglas Mill "bash the client until dead" philosophy still reigns supreme at the Law Society, and now the SLCC.

# Judy @ 1.37pm

I agree something has to be done about it, but I'm not sure the Privy Council will be up to much .. as the Privy Council has a habit of siding with the professions, who make up most of their numbers ...

#A.C. 'Rooked' Lawyer @ 1.59pm

... and don't you forget it.

# Anonymous @ 2.21pm

I agree with your comment.

# Anonymous @ 2.40pm

I don't think the Law Society will allow anyone on the SLCC it is afraid of or who speaks the truth.

They want "Yes" people there to do the Society's bidding, and as one of Mr MacAskill's own party colleagues said .. its the Law Society that wears the pants on Justice, not MacAskill.

Anonymous said...

I also think you should be on this slcc to stop all these lawyers protecting each others backs and Im pleased to see others regocnize that too

Anonymous said...

Impressive story in the Sunday Mail and good to see journalists taking on this rabble of lawyers as should be done

its the Law Society that wears the pants on Justice, not MacAskill said...

"its the Law Society that wears the pants on Justice, not MacAskill"

CLASSIC QUOTE !!!!!

Anonymous said...

Is Scanlan comparing lawyers favourably to the way the banks have collapsed leaving the taxpayer to foot the bill ?

I think if the truth ever gets out us taxpayers have been robbed blind by her bloody lawyer friends too!

Anonymous said...

£350 a day for being "on the razzle"

does someone want to read my mind on what I'm thinking about that ? hahaha

Anonymous said...

Yes the Scanlan emails are interesting and I would think the banks would be interested too in knowing why their claims failed.Was it because of attitudes like Scanlan's that did it ?

Banks might be chancers as we now know but does that mean everyone who gets turned over by a bent lawyer is a chancer if they try to claim it back ?

Anonymous said...

a crooked lawyer comment at 159pm

Good idea.That justifies spying on lawyers in my book !

Anonymous said...

She had nothing to say.Was that because she couldn't come up with something to cover it up ?

How about MacAskill ? no reaction from him ? what a useless idiot as Minister for Justice.

At least if h e doesn't sack her we all now know he supports hangovers at work !

Anonymous said...

Your friend Richard Keen will be happy to read this - he hates the entire concept of the SLCC and I am beginning to think he is right.

Anonymous said...

I can see this is bad enough but just think about the stuff they probably took out of your foi before you got it !

Anonymous said...

Whoever the "chancer" is I hope they sue Scanlan and the entire SLCC for what was said which clearly is defamation and probably there will be much more to this and just the single email you have recovered.

A job well done Peter.

Anonymous said...

witness here what politicians from ANY party will do for crooked lawyers

? said...

The taxpayer should be miffed about how much is being wasted on this quango but lawyers will be happy because Scanlan is clearly doing what they want - delaying the whole regulation process of the GF & MP.

Anonymous said...

dear me ! I hope they breathalise her next time she turns up for work !

Anonymous said...

There is no doubt about it Peter,the greatest mistake the Law Society ever made was letting Penman off the hook.

I remmeber my days at the Scotsman reading your stuff coming in and wondered how it would turn out in the end !

Peter Cherbi said...

Thanks for all your comments on this article.

# Anonymous @ 1.51pm

Yes, well its not just about one Andrew Penman of course .. its about all the crooked lawyers out there like Andrew Penman who ruin their clients and get away with it ... plenty of those around and the Law Society (and now the SLCC) lets them 'off the hook'.

However, I hope Penman is a lesson the Law Society never forgets, and its a lesson for us all that all lawyers have to pay for the crooked among them, and suffer the consequences afterwards on their livelihoods & reputations.

Anonymous said...

Yep you are spot on Peter.Its good you used your voice and the attention your case got to help others because the lawyers are good at keeping everyone silent including some of those consumer organisations that joined the cause along the way.
Keep up the good work.

Anonymous said...

She has dented the credibility of the commission so she should resign but she wont because shes a lawyer and lawyers never see the wrong they do

Anonymous said...

This lot are a waste of space I have spent the better part of a month trying to get them to investigate my complaint and even though a woman there told me it was to do with work before they started business its not true because I only took on the lawyer to do the work on 15 November 08 !
They are trying to kick it back to the Law Society and getting me cross eyed like Scanlan with all the letters

Anonymous said...

fine work Peter and good to see the newspapers picking up on it

i vote she should be sacked too along with macaskill and the rest !

Anonymous said...

Even if she does get kicked out (she should be for this) MacAskill will probably replace her with another stooge lawyer from the Law Society so its a lose lose situation for consumers once again.

Anonymous said...

The email at 15:07 is the more important of the two as you highlight.
I feel we are all due an explanation of her remarks against the GF and the one or two ? people who are making a claim.

Anonymous said...

Any updates on this ? What is MacBuckfast doing about it ? is it to be sackings or more buckfast for the board ?

Anonymous said...

Well done Peter keep up this vital work. Here is my advice to the public regarding too many lawyers in the Scottish Parliament.
Members of the public should not vote for MSP candidates who are lawyers. Oh I can hear an outcry from the legal profession "this is discrimination".
Lawyers please note, when I cannot get a lawyer to sue another lawyer on my behalf, that is also discrimination. You lawyers are an omnipotent patronising self protecting club who are not answerable to anyone but yourselves.
If you want a will, or legal documents drawn up a lawyer will help you. But do not ask them to go against each other, their revulsion is palpable.
Lawyers this fight will continue and if you are all as squeaky clean as you would have us believe, why are you scared of independant complaints handling. Please do not say members of the public would not understand the legal issues involved. THAT IS NONSENSE.
You are the teflon profession (nothing sticks to you). This is why complaints against lawyers cannot be conducted by lawyers. JUSTICE SECRETARY STOP LAWYERS INVESTIGATING LAWYERS NOW.

Anonymous said...

It is very interesting how the current justice secretary does not want the Freedom of Information Act to apply to The Law Society.
Perhaps Mr MacAskill has some skeletons in the Law Society cupboard of his own.
We do not have a justice system in Scotland.
The electorate must stop voting for MacAskill and his lawyer cronies. These lawyers do not want reform because they make more money with the current corrupt system. The people in power are protecting themselves.

An additional thought,

Perhaps we should start a new pressure group to protect patients?
SCOTLAND AGAINST CROOKED DOCTORS? The NHS Primary Care are as corrupt as the Law Society. That is why GP's who distort medical records are allowed to keep working with other patients. This has happened in Hamilton. No lawyer or the NHS Primary Care would help us. Short of murder doctors like solicitors can do what they want with patients medical records.
Another profession who are above the law.

Anonymous said...

Great work Mr Cherbi, we should remember the words of the great Martin Luther King when he said
"Injustice somewhere is a threat to justice everywhere".

Anonymous said...

Mr Cherbi as you know the Law Society Master Fund do not compensate victims of crooked lawyers.
There is more chance of winning the national lottery because Camelot pay winners. Victims of crooked lawyers get nothing.
Money and reputations control most things in this world, but if I was a lawyer stealing from clients I would be looking over my shoulder all of the time.

Anonymous said...

Brilliant strategy Mr Cherbi, the more law firms you advise the public to avoid, the more business they lose.
I am convinced that there are no honest lawyers, I see ruthless money grabbing parasites who work with impunity, the way Scanlan and MacAskill like it.
Members of the public beware, a lawyer will shake your hand at the first meeting, and stab you in the back. They will also spin out your case to get more Legal Aid money. The latter is all they are interested in, they get their money irrespective of the result you get. Bad people create bad press reports, the Legal Establishment only have themselves to blame.

Anonymous said...

It is clear from these websites that we have a protection racket at the Law Society, the SLCC and Parliament. I took part in the Reforming Complaints Handling document issued by the then Justice Minister Cathy Jamieson.
I am not surprised by what I read here and on the Scotland Against Crooked Lawyers websites.
Churchill once said "There is and always will be two versions of the law". Clearly this is applicable today as it was then. The legal establishment are immune from prosecution due to corrupt lawyers and corrupt politicians.
Perhaps the Law Society compensation scheme for the victims of crooked lawyers will be used as a bonus scheme, for Yelland and his cronies. A member of the public has more chance of winning Euromillions that being compensated by the Law Society of Scotland.

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr Cherbi,
It is a good job the legal establishment do not control the press.
We need a free press in our imperfect democracy. If you lawyers do not like it you have defamation legislation you can use.
Lawyers are evil encarnate, I have never met a decent one.

Anonymous said...

Hello Margaret here is a small section of your e mail
“Was out on the razzle, again, last night so bit cross-eyed this morning.
Even with a hangover I am sure Margaret's judgement would be spot on if she was investigating a complaint from a member of the public.
Solicitors never do anything wrong, do they Margaret?

Anonymous said...

We have ten thousand self protecting professional criminals working in Scotland at the present time.
Asking a lawyer to sue another lawyer on your behalf is like asking a Rangers or Celtic supporter to be a referee at an old firm game.

Anonymous said...

So The Law Societies Guarantee Fund has £1.7 million in it at the moment. Potential claims against crooked lawyers are £4.3 million. Current assets over current liabilities would be £1.7/£4.3 x 100 = 39%. So this simple calculation shows that even if the Guarantee Fund paid out as many claimants as possible in full, only 39 out of every hundred would get their money.
Imagine if Gordon Brown said this to bank depositors in the current hostile climate.
Pull your money out of law firms, better for them to go burst due to lack of funds, that them to go burst with your money.
Finally I would be totally against the taxpayer pumping money into law firms. That would be the ultimate injustice, taxpayers bailing out lawyers who are unnacountable to their clients. Any taxpayer reading this could be their next victim.

Peter Cherbi said...

# Anonymous @ 11.16am

I agree with your comment entirely.

I suggest flyers and a media campaign informing clients of legal firms they should withdraw their funds and important papers such as title deeds, wills etc, given the imminent insolvency of some law firms in Scotland.

If clients leave their documentation in an insolvent legal firm it could take months or years to recover their papers, if at all ...

Anonymous said...

I hope that when Margaret Scanlan was "out on the razzle", and a bit "cross eyed" that morning she did not drive to work?

Anonymous said...

A Law Degree is a passport to lighter sentencing if you are prosecuted, and the latter is rare.
Pervert lawyers, drug dealing lawyers, and other crooks. At least highway robber Dick Turpin work a mask. Lawyers have the Law Society to hide behind so they don't need a mask.

Anonymous said...

In the news today two hundred paedophiles have been cautioned, not prosecuted. Clearly the powers that be do not care about child protection. If these two hundred had been a gang who were involved in stealing millions of pounds, they would not have been cautioned.
In the past a lawyer in the east of Scotland (Julian Danskin) received nine months in prison, for his crimes against boys. Two individuals who tried to blackmail Danskin got ten years imprisonment each.
Clearly in this case the judges have compassion for (lawyer) child sex offenders, and want to send out a clear warning about blackmailing members of the legal profession. Makes one wonder if they have something to hide?

Anonymous said...

Dr Harold Shipman, from Hyde in Greater Manchester, murdered more than 200 people over a period of more than 20 years. Shipman was found hanging in his cell at Wakefield Prison in January 2004.
This guy's patients adored him. Perhaps we should speak to each other while waiting for appointments so we can find out if GP's are up to any dishonesty before things like this happen again. Shipman thought he would never be caught, but look at the damage he did to families before he was suspected of killing the old ladies who trusted him the way we all trust doctors, (myself excluded). Be on your guard.