Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Scots public urged to take part in Commission's survey on claims made against lawyers with Law Society's Master Policy & Guarantee Fund

SLCC squareScottish Legal Complaints Commission has began research into compensation claims against rogue solicitors. Clients of Scottish solicitors who have tried to pursue claims for poor work, fraud, embezzlement, theft and other failures of legal service by their legal representatives are being asked to take part in an investigation into how such claims are handled by the Law Society of Scotland's client compensation schemes, known as Master Policy and Guarantee Fund.

Researchers from Manchester University, Professor Frank Stephens and Dr Angela Melville have been engaged by the Scottish Legal Services Commission to conduct research into aims and function of the Law Society of Scotland’s Master Policy and Guarantee Fund. Professor Stephens and Dr Melville are particularly interested in people’s experiences of bringing a negligence claim against a solicitor or advocate or making a claim against the Guarantee Fund, as well as views on the operation of the policies more generally

The SLCC has been forced to investigate the alarming failures of the Scots legal profession to pay out damages claims made by potentially thousands of clients against an ever increasing tide of rogue lawyers, due to the fact it has an official monitoring role, which some within the Commission are apparently reluctant to pursue to the fullest extent possible for fear of damaging revelations to the Law Society.

EXCLUSIVE Lawyer sued for 1millionSome lawyers such as John G O’Donnell have 21 negligence claims made against them and still continue practising. Most solicitors who face client claims to the Master Policy & Guarantee Fund, have in many cases financially ruined their clients but still remained in practice due to closed shop investigations by the Law Society of Scotland which have protected thousands of solicitors from client clains & complaints, many of a serious nature involving missing funds, thefts from wills & deceased family members estates, costly case failures, and overcharging on legal fees, which due to the financial downturn, has recently seen many legal firms issue 'fake' bills to clients alleging money owed on non existent work.

Dr Angela Melville, speaking to "Diary of Injustice" said of her ongoing research into the Master Policy & Guarantee Fund claims, "We want to know about their personal experiences of making a claim against either the Master Policy or the Guarantee Fund, and their views more generally on the aims and operation of the Master Policy and the Guarantee Fund".

Anyone wishing to take part in the survey can contact Dr Melville at Angela.L.Melville@manchester.ac.uk or if anyone wishes to be interviewed on their experiences, they can telephone Dr Angela Melville on 0161 275 3580, or leave a message on 0161 306 1262.

Dr Melville suggested some questions for those who wish to contact her with their experiences of the claims process to both the Master Policy & Guarantee Fund :

1. When did you initiate the claim, and was it against the Master Policy or the Guarantee Fund ?
2. What happened that raised a claim ?
3. Did you represent yourself, or did you obtain (or try to obtain) legal representation ?
4. Did you run into any problems trying to bring the claim ?
5. What was the claim’s outcome ?
6. Do you think that you have been dealt with fairly ?
7. How satisfied are you with both the process of resolving the claim and the claim outcome ?
8. What do you feel should be the aim of the Master Policy /Guarantee Fund ?
9. Do you feel that the Master Policy /Guarantee Fund is achieving this aim?
10. Do you feel that there is anything about the Master Policy /Guarantee Fund that needs to be addressed?

Which 2Which? are to be contacted over claims against crooked lawyers research. Dr Melville added the research team would be contacting Consumer Focus Scotland and Which?, who have recently been instrumental through their 'supercomplaint' to the Office of Fair Trading, in pursuing reforms of the Scots legal profession's monopolistic business model which has for years, effectively placed a stranglehold on public access to justice & legal services in Scotland.

Which? and Consumer Focus Scotland also recently supported the McKenzie Friend petition at the Scottish Parliament, calling for the 39 year exclusion of McKenzie Friends from the Scottish Courts to be lifted, allowing party litigants to call on a service engaging a legal adviser to assist them during their representation of their own legal affairs in court.

Law Society of ScotlandLaw Society of Scotland’s client compensation schemes condemned as corrupt. Both the Master Policy and Guarantee Fund compensation schemes run by the Law Society of Scotland have been regularly criticised from all quarters, including Government Ministers, as being prejudiced in their operation against clients, self serving, self protective of dangerous solicitors who ramp up significant but secret claims records, slow to pay out, deliberately difficult in their claims handling philosophy and of course, corrupt.

The Master Policy, exists to handle client claims of negligence against Scottish solicitors, with the Law Society regularly arguing it plays no part in claims processing to the fund, rather cases are handled by the insurers, Royal Sun Alliance, and the infamously corrupt Marsh, who were themselves caught up & pled guilty to corruption charges in the US several years ago.

Clients have had such difficulty in making negligence claims to the Master Policy against their solicitors negligence, officials from Royal Sun Alliance were forced to admit in staggering revelations to the Justice 2 Committee during their LPLA Bill investigations that less than 1% of claims to the Master Policy reached court.

Claims to the Law Society of Scotland’s Guarantee Fund, which supposedly exists to compensate clients for a solicitor’s theft of their funds, have faired little better, as I reported earlier here : Law Society's 'Guarantee Fund' for clients of crooked lawyers revealed as multi million pound masterpiece of claims dodging corruption.

John SwinneyJohn Swinney revealed Law Society regularly interfered in claims against crooked lawyers. However, it was left to the now Cabinet Secretary for Finance, John Swinney MSP, to tackle Douglas Mill, the ex Chief Executive of the Law Society over startling revelations from Mill's own memos that the Law Society of Scotland were actively involved on a regular basis in delaying and effectively killing off client's negligence claims against crooked lawyers.

Douglas Mill 4Douglas Mill was forced out of Law Society top job by John Swinney’s revelations of a claims fixing policy. The video of this confrontation between Mr Swinney and Douglas Mill eventually led to Mill's resignation as Law Society Chief in early 2008, his position becoming untenable over the raft of revelations of corruption at both the Law Society itself and in the claims handling procedures of the Master Policy and its insurers, RSA, and brokers Marsh UK.

John Swinney's confrontation with Law Society Chief Douglas Mill led to revelations of a policy of protection for crooked lawyers against client claims & complaints.

You can read an earlier report I wrote on the outcome of the confrontation between John Swinney & Douglas Mill here : Law Society boss Mill lied to Swinney, Parliament as secret memos reveal policy of intervention & obstruction on claims, complaints. and of Mr Mill's eventual downfall here : Breaking News : Law Society Chief Executive Douglas Mill who lied to Parliament, pursued 'personal vendetta' against critics - to resign

So, my advice to all readers is if you have tried to make a claim against your solicitor for a failure of service which impacted on you financially, please take the time to take part in this survey, as the more respondents give their views, the larger and clearer the picture of how the claims process against the legal profession actually works.


Anonymous said...

Good news at last,I hope plenty participate in this survey because its high time the Law Society were taught a lesson with all these bent lawyers robbing people blind

Anonymous said...

forgot to say :

Maybe you should alert Citizens Advice on this to get more people involved ?

Anonymous said...

must be the least talked about research ever - I didn't know anything about it until now and I'm a solicitor !

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this.
Good work as usual.

Anonymous said...

Of interest to Dr Angela I hope :

Negligent lending defeats Guarantee Fund claim
25 Sep 06
Judge rules Society's Council entitled to reject claim based on solicitor's guarantee

A businessman and bank who made short-term loans at high rates of interest on the strength of a solicitor's guarantee which turned out to have been dishonestly given, have failed in their claims for compensation from the Scottish Solicitors Guarantee Fund.

Temporary Judge Gordon Reid QC in the Court of Session has rejected a petition for judicial review brought by John Billig and Allied Sterling plc, against a decision by the Law Society of Scotland's Council to reject their claims on the Fund.

The transactions date back to 1992 when Mr Billig, an experienced businessman who had begun to make short-term loans at high rates to people in urgent need, agreed to lend £50,000 to a company, Braundsway, with repayment being guaranteed by solicitor Michael Mullen. Around the same time Allied Sterling loaned £100,000 to Braundsway on the same basis.

Mr Billig had not previously dealt with transactions in Scotland. His English solicitor consulted the English Law Society and Mr Billig proceeded on the basis that in the event of default, his loan money could be recovered from the Guarantee Fund.
Unusual cases

Mr Mullen's undertakings were issued dishonestly and neither he nor Braundsway were able to repay the loans. Mr Mullen was sequestrated and prosecuted. However the Society's Council ultimately rejected the claims on the Guarantee Fund on the basis that the lenders had failed to make proper enquiries of the standing of Braundsway or Mr Mullen, they had failed to take proper advice and the undertakings were so unusual that no reasonable person would have relied on them.

Before the court Mr Billig and Allied Sterling argued that the Council had decided in effect that one could not rely on the undertaking of a Scottish solicitor even though they had not fouind that there was reason to suspect Mr Mullen's honesty; and it was wrong to find that they had been negligent.

However Mr Reid said that for them to succeed, he had to be satisfied that the Council reached a conclusion which no decision making body, correctly applying the law to the particular circumstances before them, could properly reach. Examining the substance of the Council's decison, he agreed that the overall conclusion on negligence was amply justified by the Council's findings.

"It is obvious from the history as disclosed in the material presented to the Council that the petitioners embarked upon the strategy of documenting substantial loans at very high rates of interest with only a solicitor's undertaking because they thought the Compensation Fund or the Guarantee Fund would be bound to pay in the event of solicitor default." Mr Reid added that the legislation establishing the Guarantee Fund did not provide a foolproof commercial security where a solicitor defaulted on an undertaking.

The judge also expressed the view that under the Scottish Guarantee Fund, like that in England and Wales, the Society had a discretion in an appropriate case not to make payment even where dishonesty causing loss was established. He dismissed the petition.

Mr Reid's opinion can be read at http://www.scotcourts.gov.uk/opinions/2006CSOH148.html .

Anonymous said...

I think the first place Dr. Melville should start is by reading the reports by the former Legal Service Ombudsman Linda Costelloe Baker.

However that alone would occupy a large portion of the few weeks Dr. Meliville and Professor Stephens have been allowed by the SLCC to undertake their investigation and present their report.

Anonymous said...

21 negligence claims and still practising ! Its as bad as the bloody politicians claiming for everything under the sun on their expenses !

Bloody crooks the lot of them.Hope you get plenty people taking part in the research !

Diary of Injustice said...

# Anonymous @ 3.12pm

Yes, I agree. Please do your bit by spreading the word to anyone you know who has tried to make a claim against their lawyer.

Alerting CAB is a good idea, thanks.

# Anonymous @ 3.29pm

Yes, it is not being advertised very well .. doubtless the SLCC and the Law Society wont want to make a song & dance about it in case some horror stories come to light ...

# Anonymous @ 4.35pm

Thanks for that link and article from the Journal.

That case may have some significance regarding an earlier report on SLCC members referring to claims against the Guarantee Fund ...

# Anonymous @ 5.01pm

An excellent suggestion, which I will pass along.

# Anonymous @ 5.17pm

I agree .. and something must be done about it.

Anonymous said...

First time I've heard of this but good to see you are publicising it.

Carry on and nail some of those MPs and MSPs on their expenses when you get time too !

Anonymous said...

Just had a look at the SLCC website and read this.Am I right in saying this research is to be finished by June ??

What about people who don't have internet or clients who don't know about this ? Seems a bit fishy not advertising it more.

Anonymous said...

That is a very interesting clip you have Peter.Probably this is the only time ever a politician took a Law Society boss to task like that and got away with it.
However there has to be more to it than that and from other reports on your site it seems the claim Mr Swinney is referring to is still not settled ?

I think we all need to find out just how many people the Law Society have damaged in Scotland and get some redress for it.

Anonymous said...

trying to make a claim against a lawyer is definitely one of those hitting against a brick wall episodes so good luck and hope many come forward

Anonymous said...

I was just watching MPs from London on tv telling us there had to be an independent body to look at politicians expenses.I wonder though - do they mean an independent body like the SLCC ? which is definitely NOT independent in any way shape or form !

Anonymous said...

Big deal ! The SLCC is doing this research into the Master policy and Guarantee fund but Jane irvine used to be the Scottish Legal Services Ombudsman so she knows already how difficult it is to claim against a lawyer and since everyone else in the SLCC has either worked for Irvine previously or came from the Law Society why the need for research ? How many times do lawyers have to be proved a bloody pack of criminals before they have to pay back what they took from clients ?

Anonymous said...

I see there are many MP's in Westminster paying back what they stole from the public purse. Like the lawyer crooks we are fighting it is the system that is wrong. The MP's would argue exploiting the taxpayer was impossible because they were acting "within the rules".
The Freedom of Information Act must apply to the Law Society. When they cover up the actions of their criminal members, they are acting "within the Law Societies own prejudicial rules. Criminals the lot of them.
Hazel Bears would not be sitting in front of a journalist with a cheque to pay the Inland Revenue today, if the FOI Act did not apply to MP's expenses. These people and Salmonds lot too are elected by us and they rip the heart out of the system. Legalized thiefs that is what they are.
The political, medical, and legal worlds are filthy with coverups because the culture and rules in these areas encourage this. Long live free journalism.

Anonymous said...

It is wonderful to see people telling their friends about Mr Cherbi's diary. Spread the word, tell everyone you meet, because they could be the lawyers next victim.
Today it is not cool to be a lawyer, you lot have, by your own actions and morals, destroyed any trust the public have in you. Armed robbers are dealt with by the police, rightly so, but you lawyers are legalized robbers, licenced to steal from your clients because your masters at the SLCC, Law Society have a vested interest in covering up your criminal activities. Your days for destroying lives are numbered.

Anonymous said...

Mr Cherbi,

Perhaps your contacts in the press can run a story on this. I am sure there are many people who will contribute. I will contact my local Citizens advice bureau.

Anonymous said...

People of Scotland.

The next time you are called for dury service ask yourself these questions.

How honest are the legal professionals in this court?

How fit are they to oversee proceedings in this court.

These are the questions that stain the honesty and integrity of our legal system today. Why? The cover up culture protects the profession that is meant to stand for justice.
Internationally our legal system is in the gutter, and lawyers the Law Society, and parliament, have put it there. They are the building blocks of injustice and this must be reversed at all costs.
Kick MacAskill out and any lawyer that stands in the way of reform. Oh and Douglas Mill, you got a bloody nose from Mr Cherbi, not nice losing your job, is it? Nice to see you on the receiving end for a change.
We do not have a democracy because rights are not equal. There is much prejudice from the legal profession, who have too much to lose. But lose they will, they will be crushed under the pressure of public opinion.

Mr Cherbi should be knighted for his stance against injustice in Scotland. Please keep up the good work.

Anonymous said...

Douglas Mill was forced out of Law Society top job by John Swinney’s revelations of a claims fixing policy. The video of this confrontation between Mr Swinney and Douglas Mill eventually led to Mill's resignation as Law Society Chief in early 2008, his position becoming untenable over the raft of revelations of corruption at both the Law Society itself and in the claims handling procedures of the Master Policy and its insurers, RSA, and brokers Marsh UK.

Mr Cherbi, like my GP Mr Mill must have thought he was immune from exposure. Lawyers and doctors the message is clear, you will fall like the dishonest politician, if you are corrupt. Professionals who think they cannot be touched fall easier because they underestimate the intelligence of those outside their respective professions.

Diary of Injustice said...

# Anonymous @ 7.12pm

Yes, a good idea .. and I of course do keep an eye on politicians expenses too ...

# Anonymous @ 8.18pm

I agree the SLCC should be doing more to publicise this research ... simply having the information on their website will not reach everyone who could take part.

# Anonymous @ 8.41pm

I agree - nothing short of a full inquiry into the events of the past, and proper redress handed down to people whose lives have been ruined by the legal profession.

# Anonymous @ 10.20pm

I agree .. if politicians are to clean up their expenses act, there will have to be a fully independent organisation to oversee them - and the SLCC is certainly no role model for that !

# Anonymous @ 10.48pm

I share your sentiments ...

# Anonymous # 11.04pm

Yes, the push for justice goes on.

# Anonymous @ 11.09pm

I will circulate the article.

# ANonymous @ 11.25pm

Thanks for the thought, but I don't believe in honours or knighthoods etc .. anyway, having such a title these days is, dare I say it .. a mark of shame, not a mark of community service.

Justice for all who deserve it, and justice imposed on those who have profited from, or helped cause the ruin of people's lives simply to protect their professions and monied interests.

Spread the word, and help people to know they can be a part of this research, which I hope will do some good, and perhaps change some very arrogant attitudes currently held by some at the SLCC, which seem to have migrated over from the Law Society.

Anonymous said...

"I don't believe in honours or knighthoods etc .. anyway, having such a title these days is, dare I say it .. a mark of shame, not a mark of community service."

Absolutely spot on kid.All these mps lords & m'lady's are too busy dipping their snouts in the public trough to have any credibility nowadays.Just a shower of robbing no good scum you can do well to keep away from !

Keep up the good work Peter you are a credit to Scotland and I hope you get justice for you and all you help.Good luck brave laddie !

Anonymous said...

Mr Cherbi, I thought you would say this.

"Thanks for the thought, but I don't believe in honours or knighthoods etc .. anyway, having such a title these days is, dare I say it .. a mark of shame, not a mark of community service".

No offence intended, and I know none has been taken. Keep up the excellent work.

Anonymous said...

I am a student at a South Lanarkshire college, and I told my lecturer about your Diary Mr Cherbi. She is shocked and she is telling all of her colleagues.
She was also told about SACL website, she was shocked that lawyers, sheriffs, high court judges were accused of corruption and are still allowed to work. I told her if a she stole money, she would lose her job and face the full force of the courts. I told her how O'Donnell got a slap on the wrist, and a crooked mentor to oversee (cover up his work). Where lawyers are concerned the criminal justice system should be renamed The Criminal Support System.

Anonymous said...

Great work Peter,

The public need an independent body let us call it LAWYERCHECK. If this could be set up, people could report how lawyers treated them, and this could provide feedback for future clients, and possible justice for wronged clients. I understand this would require staffing, funding, etc it is just an idea, perhaps it is possible?

Anonymous said...


Health minister Phil Hope is to hand back £41,709 in taxpayer-funded MPs expenses.
The money was claimed for furniture, fittings and other items for his second home.
"The anger of my constituents and the damage done to perceptions of my integrity concerning the money I have received to make my London accommodation habitable has been a massive blow to me that I cannot allow to continue," he said.
His decision came after it was announced that more than a million expenses claims by MPs over the past four years are to be scrutinised independently in a desperate bid to restore public trust in politics.
Mr Hope, the Labour MP for Corby and East Northants, insisted that all his claims were within Commons rules but that he needed to repay the money "to try to restore the trust and relationships I have with my constituents".
Gordon Brown backed the "extreme but necessary" measure last night as senior Labour figures started following in the footsteps of Tory frontbenchers by handing over money that they were seen to have "milked" out of the system.
Communities Secretary Hazel Blears said she is responding to public "outrage and the anger" by paying £13,332 in capital gains tax (CGT).


Anonymous said...

I would certainly like to take part in this survey and I will contact Dr Angela Melville with some information and send you a copy too.

Thanks for letting us all know about this !

Anonymous said...

Now theres a job for you Peter ! clean up the politicians just as much as you are cleaning up lawyers and the whole country will be behind you !

Anonymous said...

Only 1% of claims against the Master Policy go to proof !

Now there has to be something wrong there - I hope Angela Melville has been looking into that !

What would people be saying if it was revealed that only 1% of asbestos claims were ever met or only 1% of babies were successfully born ?

Bloody disgusting this has been allowed to go on for as long as it has and many of those politicians claiming everything on their expenses are GUILTY for allowing the Law Society to get away with it.

Anonymous said...

Yes,well I agree with you about titles and honours and all that crap but the problem is that most people feel people go into politics just to rip us off rather than do any good which is exactly what has been shown by all parties including the snp,labour,tories,libdems,etc.
Well motivated people such as yourself would do good to enter politics and fry anyone including lawyers for not doing the decent thing when it comes to clients but I fear no one decent enough to be trusted wants to be tagged with the dirty mp/msp honour now.

Help us Mr Cherbi !

Anonymous said...

and exactly what does the slcc plan to do with this research ?

If the research reveals as we all know the Master policy and Guarantee fund are both bent then what exactly is going to be done about it and what will happen to all the claims which have failed against both due to more bent lawyers and those in charge of both funds ?

Anonymous said...

No wonder Douglas Mill had to resign.That is a disgusting performance from the Law Society's leader and to think lawyers wonder why they are so hated ?

I know what I'd like to say but I cant.Just read my mind anyone who thinks these twisters should twist in the wind!

Anonymous said...

All these crooked lawyers should be made to pay back their clients every penny and the Police should investigate their guarantee funds and master fund.

Anonymous said...

Good on Swinney for getting rid of that ****

I will be hoping to hear more from John in this 'research' into how crooked the claims process against crooked lawyers really is.

Keep publicising all this Peter,there are not enough speaking out against crooked lawyers just now.

Anonymous said...

I suspect there will be a lot more than O'DOnnell with that amount of negligence claims against them still practising.

The public have a right to know ! Would anyone be stupid enough to use a lawyer so deadly to their clients if they could see their true records like O'Donnell ?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
Only 1% of claims against the Master Policy go to proof !


Anonymous said...

Obviously the Guarantee fund & Master policy should be independently run from the legal profession and insurers and until that happens nothing will change.