Despite public calls for the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission to get on with the task of monitoring the infamous 'Master Policy' professional indemnity insurance scheme of Scots solicitors & advocates, which is now universally known for protecting crooked lawyers, the best the Commission has achieved after talking about doing something for nearly a year is an announcement on it's website of its intentions to seek a contractor to carry out the study.
SLCC covertly met Marsh & Law Society June 2008. However, while solicitors clients who are being assisted by the likes of Cabinet Secretary for Finance, John Swinney, were making requests to the Commission to give their views & input on actual experiences with the Master Policy & Guarantee Fund, only to be told by the SLCC it had yet to decide on how to proceed on the issue, it has now been revealed in heavily censored papers, the Commission had actually met in June 2008 with the Law Society of Scotland and the discredited insurers Marsh UK, who had given several presentations to members of the Commission on how the profession views the workings of the Master Policy.
An insider linked to the SLCC claimed earlier this week: "No one at the SLCC wants to deal with the issue of the Master Policy because it has caused so much controversy over the years. These delays are nothing but a stalling tactic to put off any real input coming from the public because we know its going to be very bad what comes in".
"The Law Society and Marsh were desperate to get their views across before anyone else could make their case about their own dealings with the Master Policy & Guarantee Fund, and there was little will at the SLCC to engage the public in any way at all at on the issue".
The SLCC's Chief Executive, Eileen Masterman, who is on a salary of £70,000 a year, also doesn't seem to know which way to turn on the issue, after being spectacularly caught out admitting the commission didn't even have a copy of the Master Policy itself, and hadn't bothered to ask for one during the presentations with Marsh & the Law Society, Masterman going on to admit she might not even seek a copy of the documents of the multi billion pound Master Policy which her office is supposed to be monitoring, as per functions laid down in the legislation which created her huge salaried job in the first place.
£70k a year SLCC Chief Exec Masterman playing semantics with enquiries : “Although you now mention a meeting between the Royal Sun Alliance (RSA) and the SLCC, your previous letter referred to Marsh alone. A briefing meeting between representatives of RSA and members took place in July 2008 (not in the offices of the Law Society of Scotland). Finally 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. In this regard I would refer you once again to the information given above.”
You can read more about the poor attitude of the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission towards its consumer protection duties in an earlier report here : Complaints Commission 'unfit for purpose' as secret meetings with insurers & pensions take focus over consumer protection against crooked lawyers
So it appears we have what is claimed to be an 'independent' & 'impartial' commission responsible for handing complaints against Scottish solicitors & overseeing key issues of consumer protection in the Scots legal services market, which doesn't seem to want to actually do its job, and worse, seems to be run from inside the legal profession itself which created the problems in the first place, necessitating the intended reforms contained in the Legal Profession & Legal Aid (Scotland) Act 2007, which now seem all but lost on the SLCC, staffed & run mostly by ex Law Society officials, ex members of Law Society committees, ex Police, and others from the world of self regulation.
The SLCC appear to not want to face the realities of just how bad the Master Policy & Guarantee Fund are, but the world has already leaned some of the devious & corrupt goings on in the Master Policy after the confrontation between Cabinet Secretary John Swinney and Douglas Mill, the Law Society's ex Chief Executive who clashed with Mr Swinney over the content of Mill's own memos, revealing a long standing Law Society policy of protection of 'crooked lawyers' against complaints & financial claims by solicitors clients & members of the public.
John Swinney breaks ex Law Society Chief Douglas Mill on Law Society's 'policy to protect crooked lawyers'
Cabinet Secretary John Swinney exposed solicitors corrupt Master Policy at Holyrood.John Swinney not only took Douglas Mill to task, he also revealed that others within the Law Society of Scotland, including Kenneth Pritchard, Mill's previous Boss, had also operated a Law Society scheme to protect 'crooked lawyers', even intervening in clients access to justice and demanding solicitors cease to represent those who were attempting to claim against the 'Master Policy'.
John Swinney reveals Law Society Chiefs ordered solicitors ditch clients over 'Master Policy' claims & complaints
You can read more about the Mill video and just how corrupt the Master Policy & Guarantee Fund are in some previous reports I have made on the subject here : Law Society boss Mill lied to Swinney, Parliament as secret memos reveal policy of intervention & obstruction on claims, complaints. & here : The Corrupt Link Revealed - How the Law Society of Scotland manages client complaints & settlements.
The issue became so strong after my reports on the subject, that Douglas Mill was then forced out as Law Society Chief Executive only a few weeks after the video surfaced on You Tube, which you can read more about here : Breaking News : Law Society Chief Executive Douglas Mill who lied to Parliament, pursued 'personal vendetta' against critics - to resign
With allegations that insiders from the legal profession and elements of the SLCC and Scottish Government will seek to undermine the 'study' once again, to exclude the likes of John Swinney's Parliamentary evidence, and the many experiences from members of the public which condemn the Master Policy & Guarantee Fund as corrupt and a sham … what can we really expect from such a 'study' which seems to have standing orders to 'find no fault' with lawyers and exclude the truth ?
Does anyone think Jane Irvine, Eileen Masterman and the rest at the SLCC want to sit down and really listen to people such as John Swinney, or members of the public who have been victimised and had their lives ruined by officials from the Master Policy insurers and the Law Society just because they dare complain or try & claim against a crooked lawyer ? I don’t think so … not unless a ‘new broom’ is taken to the disgraceful current anti consumer attitudes prevailing at the SLCC
Here follows the 'independent' Scottish Legal Complaints Commission's 'study contract' advertisement from the commission's website.
The Scottish Legal Complaints Commission (SLCC) is currently seeking expressions of interest from contractors who wish to be invited to tender for the above contract.
The SLCC was created under the Legal Profession and Legal Aid (Scotland) Act 2007 and its main function is to handle complaints against members of the profession. In addition, its wider remit under s39 gives the SLCC oversight with regard to the operation of professional indemnity insurance by relevant professional bodies, including the Scottish Solicitors’ Master Policy and of the Scottish Solicitors’ Guarantee Fund.
The SLCC is seeking to commission research on the purpose and function of the Master Policy and Guarantee Fund and of the professional indemnity arrangements for Members of the Faculty of Advocates.
The work will take place between March and May 2009. The research methods will be developed by the contractor in collaboration with the SLCC. A budget of up to £15,000 inclusive of overheads and VAT will be available.
Contractors will be short-listed on the basis of relevant skills, experience and demonstrated expertise in the following areas:
* Conducting literature review
* Undertaking key informant interviews
* Managing and conducting focus groups
* Previous experience and knowledge of the legal sector in Scotland
* Knowledge and research experience of working with the Scottish Government and other government departments
If you wish your organisation to be considered for this project, please complete an Expression of Interest form and return it to Richard.Whitecross@scotland.gsi.gov.uk by 12 noon, Wednesday 18 February 2009. Click Completing an Expression of Interest Form for further information.
Submission of an Expression of Interest should not be taken as a guarantee for inclusion on the short list since the number of Expressions of Interest may exceed the number of contractors invited to tender for this work. All contractors who submit an EOI form will be notified of the result of the exercise