Friday, August 21, 2009

Legal profession ‘afraid of losing profits & control of access to justice’ as Faculty of Advocates protest against McKenzie Friends for Scotland

Faculty of Advocates crestThe Faculty of Advocates oppose the introduction of McKenzie Friends in Scotland. The Faculty of Advocates have made an amazing claim to the Scottish Parliament that only lawyers should have access to the courts in Scotland, thus become the latest branch of Scotland's embittered legal profession to object to wide ranging reforms to access to justice in Scotland which include the introduction of McKenzie Friends to Scotland's courts, some FORTY YEARS after their introduction in England & Wales which has proved hugely successful for the interests of justice in the rest of the UK over the past four decades and for many people around the world who are also able to use McKenzie Friends in many jurisdictions.

Faculty of Advocates on McKenzie Friends page 2Scotland's Advocates claimed only lawyers or advocates should have access to the court. The Faculty of Advocates said in their objections to the McKenzie Friend petition at Holyrood : "It would generally not be desirable for litigants to take part in the legal process without legal representation. It is accepted that there may be instances where the facts are so straightforward that it would appear at first sight that the claim could be dealt with by a party on his own. It is also accepted that there are occasions when a litigant either cannot afford to be assisted by a legal adviser, has chosen not to engage such assistance due to a lack of faith in lawyers in general, or simply is unable to find a lawyer who is willing to represent him."

The Faculty of Advocates then attempted to justify their stance by claiming people who represent themselves in court only have to do so because lawyers have told them their case 'is hopeless' : "In the last of these instances, on occasions it happens that clients receive advice that their case is hopeless and the client does not take the advice. It usually proves difficult for a client to persuade a different lawyer to act, when that advice has been given. It may be arrogant of the legal profession to presume that advice given by lawyers is correct. But often it is. The difficulty for the justice system is that a litigant who is intent on presenting a case will occasionally do so in an unfocussed way, perhaps missing a potentially good point while insisting on points of no merit."

You can read the Faculty of Advocate’s entire submission to the Scottish Parliament on the issue of McKenzie Friends, HERE

Clearly this is about the Faculty controlling access to justice, rather than being about the integrity of someone’s legal affairs and whether they have a presentable case in court or not. We are therefore left with little doubt the legal profession wants to retain its monopoly control over access to justice in Scotland, which is clearly in the Faculty's plan, in partnership with the Law Society of Scotland, who also oppose the introduction of McKenzie Friends in Scotland.

You can read my earlier report on the Law Society of Scotland’s resistance to the introduction of McKenzie Friends in Scotland’s courts here : 'Control Freaks' at Law Society say “No” to McKenzie Friends as Holyrood submission signals resistance to Lord Gill's civil justice review

A spokesman for one of Scotland's consumer organisations hit out today at the arrogance of the Faculty's claims, branding them selfish and obstructive, saying : "The Faculty's attitude towards access to justice in Scotland is astoundingly arrogant and it is clear they are desperately afraid of the impact that McKenzie Friends will have on their business, to the point they will use any means to justify the legal profession's control over who has access to a court in Scotland."

She continued : "What we all must remember is that access to justice is not about lawyers and advocates making money, it is about consumers being allowed to have a fair hearing in the eyes of the law. The introduction of the facility for court users in Scotland to choose a McKenzie Friend to assist the presentation of their case will bring us into line with the rest of the UK where McKenzie Friends have operated with great success for forty years, and have happily coexisted with solicitors & barristers work in the English courts, without all the fuss and protests we are now seeing from the Scottish legal profession prior to their introduction north of the border."

A Holyrood insider branded the Faculty's objections to McKenzie Friends as being ‘pathetic’, saying : " The Faculty are out to make sure people are forced to keep paying huge fees for advocates to appear in the courts on their behalf. Obviously they see McKenzie Friends as being competition to their services and that is why they don't want McKenzie Friends to be allowed in Scotland."

A client who recently found out his solicitor had asked for two further counsels opinions after the case had actually been settled said : “Everyone thinks getting an advocate to represent you in the Court of Session is a guarantee to win. It is not and if McKenzie Friends were available I would have taken one to begin with. I have wasted over £50,000 on fees for advocates who ended up just complicating the case which ended up having to be settled when the company I was suing got fed up of paying the legal fees for their lawyers who were just keeping themselves going in the court for no reason other than to be there. The two accounts I now have for legal services even after we had agreed to settle shows to me they were just out to make as much money as possible and were probably miffed we ended up settling where the lawyers hoped it would all go on for years.”

SCS logoScottish Court Service say Government and judiciary will have to work together on McKenzie Friends. While the Faculty of Advocates are smarting over the idea of introducing McKenzie Friends in Scotland's courts, which as they see will 'violate' their right to earn as much money as possible out of clients who are forced to use advocates & solicitors to pursue legal cases, the Scottish Courts Service stepped in with their own submission on the petition to bring McKenzie Friends to Scotland, confirming any action to introduce McKenzie Friends in the Scottish justice system would have to be a joint effort between the judiciary and the Scottish Government.

SCS McKenzie FriendsScottish Court Service letter to Holyrood Petitions Committee. Neil Rennick, the Director of Policy & Strategy for the Scottish Court Service said : "I can confirm that any decision about the potential introduction of a “McKenzie Friend” facility within the courts would be a policy matter for Scottish Ministers in consultation with the judiciary.” Mr Rennick went onto clarify current the SCS current policy on McKenzie Friends in Scotland, which may well change after the expected recommendations by the Lord Justice Clerk Lord Gill, who will call for the introduction of McKenzie Friends in Scotland in his forthcoming Civil Court Review. Mr Rennick continued : "I note that you have written separately to the Scottish Government and that they have indicated that there are no current plans to introduce such a facility, pending consideration of any relevant recommendations from the current Civil Courts Review, chaired by the Rt Hon Lord Gill. No actions are therefore being taken by the SCS on this matter at this time. The SCS will contribute, at the appropriate time, to any consideration of the operational implications for the courts of matters arising from the Civil Courts Review."

A spokeswoman for the Civil Courts review team when approached for comment confirmed they would be dealing with the issue of McKenzie Friends in Lord Gill's civil courts review, which is hoped to be published on or around 30 September 2009.

The situation as currently stands where our access to justice is controlled and restricted by the legal profession on the grounds they have to make huge profits out of the public, cannot be allowed to continue. Therefore, given the obstructive attitude of Scotland's legal profession from the advocates and solicitors towards the introduction of McKenzie Friends in Scotland's courts, it is a must that Parliament and the Scottish Government move on the McKenzie Friend petition, and Lord Gill's expected recommendations, to ensure the Scots public have the right of access to Scotland's courts, and the choice to use a legal representative, or a McKenzie Friend, as is appropriate to their case.

You can read my earlier articles on the campaign to bring McKenzie Friends to Scotland HERE and I urge readers, and anyone experiencing difficulties in obtaining access to justice or access to legal representation to support the McKenzie friend Petition 1247 by contacting the Petitions Committee via their email at : petitions@scottish.parliament.uk

38 comments:

Anonymous said...

Whats up with the advocates ?
Too worried to lose their 3 houses and 10 cars each ?

Anonymous said...

Everyone thinks getting an advocate to represent you in the Court of Session is a guarantee to win. It is not and if McKenzie Friends were available I would have taken one to begin with

Yes me too
Bringing in the advocates can terminally damage your life and wallet even more than just doing it with bloody lawyers !

Anonymous said...

Contrary to the self serving opinion expressed by the Faculty of Advocates that;

"...on occasions it happens that clients receive advice that their case is hopeless and the client does not take the advice."

I know of a case where a party employed several firms of lawyers in succession, all of whom were convinced of the case's merits and all of whom suddenly, unilaterally withdrew without any good reason only a matter of weeks prior to the scheduled Proof hearings.

Can anyone guess which organisation exerts that amount of control over the legal profession?

Anonymous said...

After seeing the disgrace of what happened in the Lockerbie trial I wouldn't trust anyone connected with or representing the Scottish legal system.

I would urge all others to do likewise.These people are the scum of the earth and will frame you with anything and take your money your house your life if they can.

Anonymous said...

Obviously the faculty will be against this.They will lose the ability to charge 3k per counsels opinion if people realise they can do it themselves with an Mackenzie Friend.

Good luck to all I say and bring in McKenzie Friend !

Anonymous said...

Clearly the lawyers have too much power in Scotland for their own good.
Why doesnt someone make an example of them just like they do to their clients ?

Anonymous said...

These advocates need a damn good dose of reality - the court DOES NOT BELONG TO THEM IT BELONGS TO THE TAXPAYERS WHO FUND IT.

Disgusting bunch of reptiles lawyers and advocates and I would like to say a lot more but you probably wont publish my comment so will leave it at that!

Anonymous said...

It would generally not be desirable for litigants to take part in the legal process without legal representation.

Really ?

So it would be more desirable for litigants to take part only if they pay advocates and their bloody lawyers lots of money ?

Is that Justice or just a rip off ?

Anonymous said...

sick stuff holding people to ransom over court access
and if msps obey the lawyers and keep out mckenzie friends we should throw them and their lawyer pals out too

Anonymous said...

I dont think any of these advocates deserve their high fees they are just a waste of time from some of their pathetic rants Ive heard in the court.

Anonymous said...

The Law Society and the Advocates remind me of a tale of two rats fighting over a piece of cheese.They managed to get half each but because it was laced with warfarin that was the end of the rats.Good analogy don't you think Peter ?

Anonymous said...

First comment - YES they are !

Anonymous said...

I've been following your postings on Mckenzie Friends Mr Cherbi.
Very interesting stuff but there is something I want to point out that has gone unmentioned so far.
All the letters of support to the Parliament on their website are signed by whoever or whichever organisation sent them except the Law Society and Faculty of Advocates.

Why is that ?
Is it because someone is afraid to put their name on their objections or some other reason ?

Anonymous said...

If the legal profession are against it this can only be about money but it will be good for the rest of us

Anonymous said...

Thought you would be writing about Lockerbie ?

Anonymous said...

5:06pm
Good point.
I read though the Faculty's letter and I must say their reasoning stinks to high heaven.

Clearly there is a monopoly at work here that wants to preserve its control over access to courts purely for financial gain just as Mr Cherbi points out in his report.

I say to all of you in Scotland Get up and do something about this if you can be bothered to otherwise its your loss !

Anonymous said...

This is a very good blog Mr Cherbi.
Now I understand why your Scottish legal system has no credilblility.This Justice Secretary Macaskill will allow convicted terrorists out but refuses to give his own people justice and even Mckenzie friends.
What a disgrace.Its a pity people voted for his party

Anonymous said...

Total rubbish in the faculty's letter against the petition.They should be investigated for trying to keep everyone out of the courts!

rules but not for the rulers said...

"What we all must remember is that access to justice is not about lawyers and advocates making money, it is about consumers being allowed to have a fair hearing in the eyes of the law"

Precisely.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for a good read.I have emailed that committee to register my support for McKenzie Friends for Scotland.

Good luck and all the best.

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with you on this one Peter.Opposing the introduction of McKenzie Friends to Scotland will do us and the Faculty no good at all.

Anonymous said...

Self serving and selfish just to name a few words I could describe the Faculty's letter.

The Dean should have just said something along the lines of "Dear Committee,please exclude anyone from the legal profess who is not represented by one of our members or a solicitor.

Anonymous said...

If I said the faculty of advocates were just being greedy bastards would you print my comment ?

Anonymous said...

A classic case of lawyers being used to having their own way for too long.

No matter.The advocates look like a gang of real crooks arguing that only they should be allowed to represent people in court which is what their rant over a few pages boils down to and if anyone on that committee supports that kind of policy well they must be getting a bribe to do so.

Anonymous said...

silly to oppose this on the grounds stated.
the faculty could do with some competition anyway !

Anonymous said...

Yes from experience I'd say bring in an advocate is the best way to see all your money (and life) go down the toilet.

If the Faculty think they are so good at representing people then why do they fear competition so much ?

Anonymous said...

Good posting and comments too.
I agree this looks just like the faculty of advocates protecting their business but I dont think that is reason enough to block a McKenzie Friend.

Good luck with the campaign !

Anonymous said...

I have been complaining about an advocate's fee for over a year and last week he had my own lawyer threaten me if the bill was not paid he would be forced to stop representing me and send me an account for his own work.The problem I have with the advocate's fee is he didn't actually do any work and one of the items he is claiming for (a meeting) never even took place because I was in hospital at the time for 3 weeks !I have pointed all this out even with a signed letter from a doctor at the hospital that I was in but they all still say the meeting took place.What can I do about it Mr Cherbi ?

Anonymous said...

I spoke to the petitions committee and they seem annoyed that people want to support this petition for mackenzie friends.Did they want no publicity so nothing would happen about it ?

Anonymous said...

I'm with the rest on my thoughts.Give us McKenzie Friends Mr MacAskill !

Anonymous said...

I have a long running dispute that could do with a McKenzie Friend instead of my absolutely USELESS lawyer who prefers to write lots of letters and charge me for it but achieves NOTHING.

Anonymous said...

Actually I had no idea what a McKenzie Friend was until I read this and some of your links Mr Cherbi.If England has it why not Scotland too!

Peter Cherbi said...

Thanks for all your comments on this article, and I'm pleased to see all of you agree that having a McKenzie Friend in Scotland is a good idea and should happen.

# Anonymous @ 7.29pm

Thanks for the additional comment and I will email you back tomorrow on the issues you informed me of.

I am informed the Scottish Human Rights Commission are also to make a representation to the Parliament on the petition, due to the fact the entitlement of litigants in England & Wales to have a McKenzie Friend alongside them in court is an article 6 Human Rights issue .... and therefore must also be the same in Scotland.

Effectively therefore what we have is the Law Society and the Faculty of Advocates opposing a human right of access to justice which has existed in the UK for some 40 years ...

There will be more on this in the coming days.

Anonymous said...

so the SHRC have finally got off their backsides ?
took them long enough

Anonymous said...

I admire your attention to detail although I don't think the FoA will share my view.

Good work on exposing all this stuff.

Anonymous said...

This is all about money and who gets to control the market.Nothing to do with a person's 'access to justice' as you so rightly put it.
I hope their greed brings their house down.

Anonymous said...

"It would generally not be desirable for litigants to take part in the legal process without legal representation. (LEGAL REPRESENTATION IS LIKE SMOKING CIGARETTES, DANGEROUS). It is accepted that there may be instances where the facts are so straightforward that it would appear at first sight that the claim could be dealt with by a party on his own. It is also accepted that there are occasions when a litigant either cannot afford to be assisted by a legal adviser, has chosen not to engage such assistance due to a lack of faith in lawyers in general, (WE WONDER WHY THIS IS), or simply is unable to find a lawyer who is willing to represent him."

PEOPLE OF SCOTLAND PLEASE, PLEASE NEVER TRUST A LAWYER. THE FACULTY OF ADVOCATES REJECT MCKENZIE FRIENDS BECAUSE YOU AND I ARE NOT ENTITLED TO HUMAN RIGHTS, IN THEIR OPINION. THE SELF REGULATORS ALL SUFFER FROM THE SAME MINDSET, LOOK AFTER OURSELVES, NOT THE CLIENT.

LAWYERS MAKE A FORTUNE OUT OF THE HUMAN RIGHTS ACT BUT REJECT THE SAME ACT APPLYING TO CLIENTS, WHO CANNOT TRUST LAWYERS.

THE PROTEST GROUPS IN SCOTLAND HAVE BEEN CREATED BY PEOPLE WITH NO LEGAL RIGHTS, AGAINST THE LEGAL PROFESSION. LAWYERS ONLY SEE LAWYER JUSTICE AND THE FACULTY OF ADVOCATES HAVE DEMONSTRATED THEIR CONTEMPT FOR THE VICTIMS OF LAWYERS, AND FOR THE SCOTTISH PEOPLE IN GENERAL.

DESCRIMINATION IS ALSO ILLEGAL, WITH THE EXCEPTION THAT LAWYERS THINK IT IS FAIR IF THEIR POWERBASE IS THREATENED. TO ALL OF YOU LAWYERS OUT THERE, I ADVISE THE PUBLIC DO NOT TRUST THESE 10,000 SELF REGULATING SELF PROTECTING CRIMINALS. NO LAWYER IS HONEST, AND THAT IS A FACT.

Anonymous said...

The situation as currently stands where our access to justice is controlled and restricted by the legal profession on the grounds they have to make huge profits out of the public, cannot be allowed to continue.
-------------------------------------
If the legal profession had a history of dealing fairly with the public, I would not be leaving this comment and Mr Cherbi's lawyer and accountant would have been prosecuted, with other lawyer criminals, who have treated clients like **** over the centuries.

You lawyers are reaping what you have sown, I tell my kids lawyers are thieves and they are still in primary school. By the time they are old enough to work they will have a rabid distrust of lawyers, and that is what I want. Educate potential victims young so that they know what they are up against.