Tuesday, February 09, 2010

17 years of complaints oversight by 'powerless' Scottish Legal Services Ombudsman reveals little change to Law Society & crooked lawyers

Jane IrvineJane Irvine, former Scottish Legal Services Ombudsman issues final report. THE SCOTTISH LEGAL SERVICES OMBUDSMAN, a taxpayer funded office with an Ombudsman appointed by the Government, whose task was to investigate complaints against the notoriously corrupt LAW SOCIETY OF SCOTLAND where investigations against crooked lawyers had effectively been whitewashed by the profession, has issued its final report after being in existence for nearly twenty years.

While the final report details the usual statistics and incomprehensible to most issues on how the Law Society handled or mishandled hundreds of complaints made by clients against its traditional closed shop complaints system, the reality is that in the near twenty years of the Scottish Legal Services Ombudsman’s existence, nothing much has been changed at the Law Society despite boasts to the contrary.

Law Watchdog faces threat of court fight - Scotland on Sunday 9 August 1999Ombudsman of the 90’s Garry S Watson’s recommendations on secret representation for ‘crooked lawyers’ were quickly ignored. The role of the Scottish Legal Services Ombudsman was to investigate complaints against the Law Society itself over their mishandling of complaints, however the SLSO’s office had no enforceable powers assigned to it, and could only make “recommendations” on a case by case basis, many of which were simply cast aside by the Law Society of Scotland, particularly the recommendations of the late 1990’s where the then Ombudsman, Mr Garry S Watson recommended that lawyers not be allowed legal representation before Complaints Committees while the Law Society denied the same right to clients. The recommendation made by Mr Watson over the Andrew Penman case, which revealed a secret policy of ‘crooked lawyers’ being represented at Complaints Committees by senior Law Society figures was quickly cast aside, and still goes on to this day in certain cases of complaints against the favoured elite of ‘crooked lawyers’.

The statistics in the final SLSO report are as follows :

Law SocietyLaw Society of Scotland – still promoting & protecting crooked lawyers. 1 April 2007 to 31 March 2008. the Law Society of Scotland had 12,259 Solicitors on the roll of which 10,152 were practicing solicitors. the number of regulated firms fell slightly from 1,250 in 2006/2007 to 1,247 in 2007/2008. In the year 2007/2008, the number of complaints received by the Law Society of Scotland fell by just under 27% on the previous year to 2,649. of these, 2,609 were closed within the Law Society of Scotland’s target to complete investigations within 43 weeks.That’s a lot of complaints closed down by the Law Society .. no wonder there are armies of crooked lawyers still operating in Scotland against unsuspecting clients who know nothing of their past …

During the year 2007/2008, the Scottish Legal Services Ombudsman received 359 complaints about the way the Law Society of Scotland handled complaints. Of the 359 new complaints received, 47 complaints were out of remit which included 11 complaints that were out of time and 19 premature complaints, i.e. no formal complaint had been made to the Law Society of Scotland. The Scottish Legal Services Ombudsman investigated and issued Opinions on 274 cases, 5 cases were sent to the English Legal Services Ombudsman (LSO).

Of the eligible complaints received by and accepted for investigation by the Scottish Legal Services Ombudsman, 25% of people said they were dissatisfied with handling, 22% said they were unhappy with the way evidence was used or interpreted, 27% said reasoning was inadequate, 15% complained of bias, 6% complained about delays and 5% complained about the limitations of the Law Society of Scotland’s powers.

Between 1 April 2008 and 30 September 2008, the number of complaints received by the Law Society was 1321. of these, 1176 (89%) were closed within the target of 43 weeks. During the six months between 1 April and 30 September 2008, the Scottish Legal Services Ombudsman received 176 complaints about the way the Law Society of Scotland handled complaints. Of the 176 new complaints received, 30 complaints were out of remit which included 5 complaints that were out of time and 11 premature complaints, i.e. no formal complaint had been made to the Law Society of Scotland. The Scottish Legal Services Ombudsman investigated and issued. Opinions on 133 cases, 5 cases were sent to the LSO.

Of the eligible complaints received by and accepted for investigation by the Scottish Legal Services Ombudsman, 27.1% of people said they were dissatisfied with handling, 26.1% said they were unhappy with the way evidence was used or interpreted, 25.7% said reasoning was inadequate, 12.4% complained of bias, 5.4% complained about delays and 3.3% complained about the limitations of the Law Society of Scotland’s powers.

Faculty of Advocates crestFaculty of Advocates - “We have crooks too !”. The Faculty of Advocates complaints statistics for SLSO investigation were : From 1 April 2007 to 31 March 2008. the faculty of advocates had 770 members of whom 462 were practising. the faculty received 33 complaints, 21 of which were completed within the 43 week target period, 3 complaints were completed outwith the target. in the period 1 april 2008 to 30 September 2008, 12 complaints were received by the faculty of advocates. 7 complaints were completed within their timescale, 3 were not completed and 2 were completed outwith the timescale but still live and with the faculty’s disciplinary tribunal.

The full version of the final Scottish Legal Services Ombudsman’s report can be downloaded in pdf format, here : 2007–2008 Report and the archive reports for comparison (recommending much the same, year in, year out), are here : 2006–2007 Report 2006–2007 Report Discussion 2005–2006 Report 2004–2005 Report 2003–2004 Report 2002–2003 Report 2001–2002 Report 2000–2001 Report . Curiously none of Garry Watson’s reports as Ombudsman exist on the SLSO’s website. Obviously no longer worth the space in cyberspace ?

Jane Irvine, the former Scottish Legal Services Ombudsman, now the Chair of the new Scottish Legal Complaints Commission left us with her final comments as SLSO, saying : “Since the Office was established in 1993, four Ombudsmen have been appointed to the role. During this time, the Office has seen a range of changes to the way complaints against solicitors and advocates have been handled. However, some problems remain; for example the suspicion about how any membership body can deal with complaints made by the public against its own members. Nevertheless, many improvements have occurred. Most importantly, a recognition that clients and practitioners deserve and need a way to have service complaints resolved and a culture of continuous improvement, not just a punitive disciplinary system.”

Ms Irvine continued : “There are still some areas that I consider require attention and further review. I would like to see improved governance within the professional bodies in order to keep management of regulatory work entirely separate from member services. I would like to see closer consideration of whether a criminal standard of proof within a regulatory system is appropriate for either practitioners or the general public. I would also like to see simpler ways for fee disputes to be resolved.”

Consumer Bodies were also thanked by Jane Irvine for their input on the regulation debate : “I also recognise the willingness of both bodies and the many strong consumer bodies within Scotland, such as Consumer Focus Scotland, Citizen’s Advice Scotland and Which, to work with the Ombudsman’s offce offering ideas and thoughts on how systems and processes can be further improved. This dialogue has proved invaluable, as has discussion with individuals bringing complaints. In my view, if appointed as a single Ombudsman, it is essential to listen to other’s views in order to keep your own thinking fresh. I thank everyone who, over the last year, has assisted me to think outside the box!”

DougieDougie, the Ombudsdog (a 100% honest member of the SLSO team). Ms Irvine also claimed the Law Society and Faculty had made efforts on complaints : “However, as the final Scottish Legal Services Ombudsman, I also have to recognise that both the Law Society of Scotland and the Faculty of Advocates have made great efforts to provide better complaints handling services to benefit both their members and the general public. The figures within this Report indeed demonstrate improvements in the approach taken by both the Law Society of Scotland and the Faculty of Advocates.”but really, Jane, that's not how clients of the Law Society’s complaints system really feel now, is it … – personally, I think many of us would have preferred to see Dougie give a few of the Law Society frequent crooked flyers a good shaking, or dare I say .. gnashing … grrrr !

Ms Irvine ended by thanking both the SLSO staff (generally, the good) and the Law Society Client Relations team (generally, the bad - the ones who usually ruin client complaints and make sure crooked lawyers get off the hook), however making no mention both teams have been & are at each other’s throats at the new Scottish Legal Complaints Commission, with the gang from the Law Society seemingly intent on taking over the asylum and assimilating the SLCC back into the Law Society fold. I naughtily reported on that earlier, here : Law Society target ‘outsider staff’ for exit at Complaints Commission as lawyers undermine attempts at independent regulation provoking threats from Mr MacAskill’s Justice Department on the revelations, here 'Culture of fear' grips Scottish Legal Complaints Commission as Justice Department witch-hunt threatens whistleblower staff over leaks to media.

Well you all tried (except Mr Watson). Certainly if there was a star it has to be Linda Costelloe Baker, who resigned as Scottish Legal Services Ombudsman and branded the LPLA Bill (which set up the SLCC) as a mess, as I reported here : Last words from former Scottish Legal Services Ombudsman condemn the Scottish legal profession

Jane Irvine has attempted to make efforts in the ‘consumer’ direction by supporting FOI implementation on the Law Society of Scotland (sadly will never happen, too much arm twisting and greasing of Scottish Government Minister’s palms by Law Society bullies/blackmailers), but Ms Irvine does have a long way to go, as the SLCC is basically a shambles as it currently stands, having no client success stories to show for itself after a year of operation and two million pounds of taxpayers money pumped into it, while its board members pump out their gigantic expenses claims.

23 comments:

Anonymous said...

17 years of wasted money thrown against the Law Society and their evil crowd

Anonymous said...

That dog looks shifty.Are you sure we can trust him ? ;p

Anonymous said...

I would describe the SLSO as a 17 year hoodwinking exercise against the public and everyone knows it.

Put it this way,if the SLSO had done their jobs you wouldn't be here writing about it today now would you Peter !

Anonymous said...

Just read the story on Mr Watson - what a crook !

Scotsman/Scotland on Sunday did you proud but I found a link showing he then went onto regulate MSPs for awhile at the Scots Parliament !

I bet he binned a lot of complaints there too !

Anonymous said...

sorry forgot to post link to Garry Watson at the Parliament

its here : http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/nmcentre/news/news-comm-00/cstan-nr00-017.htm


Garry Watson has been appointed Adviser to the Standards Committee. The new position will carry responsibility for the initial consideration, and where necessary, investigation of complaints against MSPs which fall within the remit of the Standards Committee.

Welcoming the appointment committee convener Mike Rumbles said:

"The committee agreed the appointment of a standards adviser as an interim measure until such time as the Parliament has had the opportunity to debate our proposals to establish a Standards Commissioner.

"This will enable us to introduce quickly an independent element into the Parliament’s procedures for enforcement of the Code of Conduct. The committee believes that this is essential to ensure public confidence in the Parliament’s commitment to ensuring the highest standards of public probity.

"The appointment of the adviser is also an important step forward in the committee’s work in developing transparent procedures that are both fair and robust for the enforcement of the Code of Conduct for MSPs."

Mr Watson will take up his new post on 25 September. He has previously served as a Scottish Legal Services Ombudsman.

BUT HOW COULD HE BE TRUSTED AFTER GIVING INTO THE LAW SOCIETY ALL THAT TIME ?

Anonymous said...

This is the way these ombudsmen work,making the same recommendations on each case and never get anywhere and again more vicitms come along and nothing ever done to help

Disgrace !

Anonymous said...

I have a good case for you Mr Cherbi.
My father purchased a property in Glasgow after a bidding war with a firm of lawyers acting for a supermarket.
After the purchase my father went in and demanded to see his file and on a "minute of meeting" it says "Attendance with the Taliban".
This is as you know extremely racist and wonder if you could help us expose the bigot because the Law Society dont want to know.

We have the files but the solicitor now denies writing it.Any help appreciated.

Peter Cherbi said...

# Anonymous @ 1.22pm

Yes, that about sums up the SLSO. The office would have done much better to ask for more powers, however that only happened when Linda Costelloe Baker came along in 2000.

# Anonymous @ 2.06pm

As far as I can tell, the dog is honest.

# Anonymous @ 3.21pm

Agree with you entirely.

# Anonymous @ 3.45 & 3.49pm

Yes, Mr Watson was no friend of the consumer, and certainly no friend of mine.

# Anonymous @ 5.28pm

Shocking, although I've seen some horrible phrases used by lawyers in their minutes of meetings and phone calls before ...

Anyway, please contact me with further details and a copy of that document.

I will see it gets publicised in the wider media.

Anonymous said...

To the comment at 5:28pm

So it would seem lawyers are racist as well as crooked and I bet it didn't stop them from taking your dad's money !

Hope you get some headlines for it.

Anonymous said...

2,609 were closed within the Law Society of Scotland’s target to complete investigations within 43 weeks

Really ? I have a complaint that was filed with the Law Society in October 2006 and they still have to sent it to one of these complaints committees.

I'd say that is more than 43 weeks, wouldn't you ?

Anonymous said...

Great! Irvine sticks a piccie of her dog in her report.Why couldn't she print some pictures of ruined clients or some of these crooked lawyers instead ?

Maybe a picture of the dog eating a crooked lawyer might generate more of a laugh !

Anonymous said...

Not much detail in her last report to give us any clue on complaints is there.

What happened to all the case examples and A,B,C&D ?

Another whitewash I fear.

Anonymous said...

No doubt the powers that be were glad to see the back of Linda Costelloe-Baker - she spoke as she saw, not as others told her.

By contrast Jane Irvine has proved her worth by not rocking the boat, passing seamlessly over the conisistent failures of the self regulating Law Society in her final report - not a mention for example of the report by Professor Ian Smart and Dr. Lorna Jack on the very dubious and stubborn alliance with its disgraced insurer Marsh - thus guaranteeing her continuing employment as Chief Executive of the Law Society clone, the SLCC.

Anonymous said...

Hi Peter, it seems most people except consumers and protestors love the legal profession. No wonder they are so corrupt, there is nothing to stop them. Great blog.

Anonymous said...

The SLSO was put there to protect the Law Society and extend the life of self regulation.I'd say it had a successful mission from that point of view so lawyers can be thankful it never had any formal powers and never had anyone willing to really stand up for clients.
Much the same as today's SLCC I think.

Eric said...

Honestly I cant tell much from this ombudsman's report what is really going on with these crooked lawyers in Scotland but I will tell you this.

Ombudsman and their kind are the same kind of people we found when entering the towns around the concentration camps in Germany.Everyone said "Oh we didn't know" "We had nothing to do with it" "It couldn't happen here" "The Fuhrer would never do such a thing" and even when those people were forced to go round the camps to see for themselves they still denied it.Ombudsmen in the legal world banking world medical world public service world are all the same.All in denial.All there to prop up horrible empires that keep them in work that anyone could well laugh about until it bites them and they break down and cry like all the other victims.

People who never used a lawyer laugh about crooked lawyers but when they end up needing one and get ripped off.They stop laughing and start crying.They wonder why there is nothing they can do but they themselves caused it by laughing all this time at others who were already lying dead at the hands of people who use the law as a criminal weapon against their clients.

If I were you kid I would get all these people who this ombudsman says they looked into their complaints and publish them all.Publish them all and name everyone name the lawyers name the Law Society name the victims and name the ombudsmen who stood back and did nothing and never thought to ask to be able to do something.

Anonymous said...

I thought you had made an error with the dog picture but right enough its in Irvine's report.

As someone said earlier it would have been better to put in pictures of the crooked lawyers rather than a dog.After all we the taxpayer paid for it all!

Anonymous said...

Anonimous at 10:36PM

I agree with you totally. Those in denial are the barrier to justice. Lawyers, the ombudsman and the Nazi's make me sick. Let me put it this way, if the ombudsman had a legal problem it would be fixed on a reciprocal basis if you know what I mean.

Criminals all of them.

Anonymous said...

In politics one contested area is equality. Well looking at the Legal profession and Ombudsman there is chronic injustice and a crushing of equality. Rights are non existant for victims of Scotlands LLB Nazis.

Anonymous said...

*Scottish Legal Services Ombudsman investigated and issued Opinions on 274 cases*

and doubtless nothing happened in those 274 cases and the people were left wiped out by some shit lawyer who gets away with it

is that disgusting or what

Anonymous said...

Ombudsman and their kind are the same kind of people we found when entering the towns around the concentration camps in Germany.Everyone said "Oh we didn't know" "We had nothing to do with it" "It couldn't happen here" "The Fuhrer would never do such a thing" and even when those people were forced to go round the camps to see for themselves they still denied it.
=====================================
YES AND THESE PEOPLE ARE THE MOST CONVINCED THEIR ACCUSERS ARE WARPED. SELF DENIERS ARE SO WARPED THEY CANNOT FACE EVIDENCE THAT SLAPS THEM IN THE FACE, BECAUSE THEY KNEW WHAT WAS HAPPENING. BUT THOSE WHO KNOW ARE EQUALLY GUILTY.

Anonymous said...

This legal riff raff are an example of human nature at its worse, they ruin lives because it only affects the victim.

Barking Mad said...

lol you were right about the dog ! Is it also at the SLCC ?

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/3357035/Its-a-dogs-life-at-work.html

It's a dog's life at work
Belinda Smith.
Published: 12:01AM BST 16 Sep 2008

It may sound a bit barking, but there’s no need to leave your dog behind when you set off for the office, writes Belinda Smith

Every morning, Dougie Irvine goes for an hour's run before he prepares for work and sets off on a half-hour walk to his Edinburgh city centre office.

Once there, tired from his exertions, the trill as Windows is launched on the PC is his cue to take to his bed, lie on his back, stick his feet in the air and doze off for the rest of the day.

Fortunately, Dougie, a nine-year-old terrier cross, has no important matters to attend to. It is his owner, Jane Irvine, the Scottish Legal Services Ombudsman and chairman of the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission, who has to deal with the business of the day.

Dougie is one of those fortunate dogs across Britain who are not left behind when their owners go to work, but go with them. It is something that The Blue Cross animal welfare charity is keen to promote when it holds its 13th annual Take Your Dog to Work Day next Wednesday.

Its aim is to encourage dog owners to spend more time with their pets by taking them to work every day and to experience the benefits of the practice - to themselves and those around them.

Jane and Dougie don't need convincing of the advantages. Dougie has been going to work with Jane since she acquired him. "I've been taking him in since he was a pup of seven months," she says. "For me, it's much better than leaving him behind. If I'm late, I'm not thinking, 'I have a dog at home, I must get back' and I feel safer walking home at night."

For Dougie it means company all day long. He has his own bed and a water bowl in Jane's office. "I have a dog gate, too, so he can't wander around all over the place," she says. And as far as the reactions of her colleagues and those people who visit the office are concerned, it works well. She is always careful to check that no one is allergic to dogs, though - if someone does have an allergy or a dislike of dogs, she uses another meeting room.

"It's never caused a problem," says Jane. In fact, she has found that it has the advantage of making her clients feel more relaxed. "An ombudsman's office is seen as terribly formal, so it makes me seem slightly more human."

Also, as with the presence of dogs in other workplaces, it's a great stress-buster. "I'm dealing with complaints all the time, which is stressful, so it just eases that," says Jane.