Thursday, February 04, 2010

Consumer survey reveals most Scots want independent regulation of lawyers, legal services, & introduction of McKenzie Friends in Scottish courts

Which logoWhich? consumer survey reveals Scots want independent regulation of lawyers. MOST SCOTS feel lawyers & legal services should be INDEPENDENTLY REGULATED, according to a survey carried out by the consumer group Which?, echoing their evidence to Holyrood’s Justice Committee during hearings on the Legal Services Bill, which aims to widen public access to justice by opening up Scotland’s long closed monopolistic legal services market, currently controlled by the Law Society of Scotland and its 10,000 member solicitors & law firms.

The Which? survey (pdf) found that around seven in ten Scots (71%) think that legal services should be regulated independently and around six in ten (59%) think it is important that lay people should make up the majority of a profession’s regulator or disciplinary board.

McKenzie Friends for Scotland 3McKenzie Friends for Scotland also supported by most Scots in Which? survey. An even greater percentage of Scots (85%) of those polled supported the campaign to bring McKenzie Friends to Scotland, where people responding to the survey thought it would be useful if a scheme was introduced in Scotland whereby people that couldn't find or afford a lawyer to represent them in court could have the help and support of a knowledgeable non-lawyer or friend in court (known as a McKenzie Friend) if the judge allows it.

Which? survey found majority support among Scots for independent regulation of legal services & McKenzie Friends facility for Scottish Courts :

Which - McKenzie Friends & Legal Services Bill Page 1 Which - McKenzie Friends & Legal Services Bill Page 2 Which - McKenzie Friends & Legal Services Bill Page 3

Which? principal public affairs officer, Julia Clarke, commenting on the results of their survey said : “We think it’s vitally important that legal services in Scotland are regulated by a fully independent body as we feel this is the only way consumers can have complete trust in the system. However, the Legal Services Bill will deliver great improvements for people using legal services in Scotland, and we also look forward to party litigants having the right to the support of a McKenzie Friend in court.”

The Legal Services Bill which came about after Which? lodged a super-complaint with the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) about legal services in Scotland, arguing that existing regulation of the industry was harming consumers’ interests, will enable Scottish consumers to access legal services from a range of organisations, not just traditional law firms.

Scottish GovernmentScottish Government reluctantly proposed access to justice reforms. The Scottish Government however, have been very reluctant to reform legal services in Scotland, due it seems to the likes of Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill’s well known & publicly expressed loyalties to the legal profession and opposition to independent regulation of lawyers. The SNP administration have went onto changed their mind several times over whether to reform legal services in Scotland, and only after the Office of Fair Trading response to the super-complaint, agreeing the reforms proposed by Which? to the Scottish legal services industry would benefit consumers, have the turtle-slow & varying proposals by Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill become a bill for Holyrood to consider.

A Scottish Government insider said earlier this week the Law Society remained of the view it should regulate legal services in Scotland, and warned that society officials were continuing a behind the scenes campaign to retain its regulatory powers in the face of stiff public opposition.

He said : “There has been voluminous correspondence & meetings with the Law Society over the regulation question. Clearly they want to keep control even though the general public experience with the Law Society handling complaints is mostly negative.”

You can read an earlier report I wrote on the Law Society’s attempt to remain as regulator of Scotland’s legal services market, here : Consumers & Govt insiders brand Law Society ‘too crooked’ to regulate ‘Tesco Law’ expansion of legal services in Scotland

Law Society of ScotlandLaw Society ‘very bitter’ at losing control over pace of McKenzie Friend debate. A legal insider at the Law Society of Scotland itself said this morning that officials were “very angry” over the pace of the McKenzie Friend issue, which is rumoured to have taken the Law Society by surprise in just how fast the matter has progressed from a petition under consideration at the Scottish Parliament to actual case law where the first use of a McKenzie Friend in a Civil Court action in Scotland was allowed by Lord Woolman during November 2009.

He said : “Personally I view McKenzie Friends as a good thing for Scotland and I welcome the results of the survey by Which? which show most people are in favour of the practice.”

The source also revealed there has been heated discussion at the Law Society’s Edinburgh Headquarters over the McKenzie Friend issue, with senior figures left “very bitter” at losing control over the progress of the McKenzie Friends petition, some apparently fuming with Parliament for “letting this one slip through the net”, effectively smashing the Society’s grip over rights of audience in Scotland.

The legal insider continued : “You might not be surprised at just how far the Law Society have went to prevent the McKenzie Friends issue from entering the public domain and use in the court. I understand several MSPs were privately sounded out by society officials, intent on negatively influencing any wider support at Holyrood for a McKenzie Friend law but it seems the speed of the debate, the Court of Session decision, and publicity over the lack of McKenzie Friends in Scotland has overtaken the society’s blocking tactics this time.”

You can read more about the Law Society of Scotland’s opposition to McKenzie Friends in Scotland, here : 'Control Freaks' at Law Society say “No” to McKenzie Friends as Holyrood submission signals resistance to Lord Gill's civil justice review

You can read my earlier coverage of the Legal Services Bill, here : Legal Services Bill (Scotland) : The story so far

On the matter of McKenzie Friends for Scotland, you can read my earlier coverage here : McKenzie Friends for Scotland : The story so far

Independent regulation of solicitors and the wider legal services market is as I and many others have been saying for years, a must, if consumers are to have the full protection we deserve in Scotland’s legal services market.

At the end of the day, legal services is a business, as lawyers are in it to make money, not simply to uphold the values of justice.

If consumers are to have confidence, and trust in that business, it must be independently regulated by the formation of a body with no ties whatsoever to the legal profession, or sympathetic self regulators who have their own interests in continuing the quagmire of ‘crooked’ self regulation which the Law Society of Scotland have practiced for years, directly against the consumers best interests.

35 comments:

Anonymous said...

“You might not be surprised at just how far the Law Society have went to prevent the McKenzie Friends issue from entering the public domain and use in the court.

LAW SOCIETY WILL LOSE, VICTIMS OF THEIR CORRUPT WAYS,

GOOD REPORT PETER.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations to Which? and I fully support their conclusions.We all need to be rid of Law Society stooge ridden self regulation and scrap that SLCC while you're at it, Peter !

Great work keep it up mate !

Anonymous said...

Yes I also agree - lawyers should not be allowed to regulate themselves after the monstrosity of Law Society self regulation.

YELLAND,MILL AND THE REST SHOULD BE CHARGED WITH CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY FOR ALL THE CRIMINALLY CROOKED LAWYERS THEY ALLOWED TO RUIN POOR CLIENTS

Anonymous said...

Law Society are more worried about the competition in courts from McKenzie Friends which will deprive solicitors of charging huge fees and prolonging cases for no good reason.You've said all this before but I'm just reminding you of it because its true!

Anonymous said...

The Which? survey found that around seven in ten Scots (71%) think that legal services should be regulated independently and around six in ten (59%) think it is important that lay people should make up the majority of a profession’s regulator or disciplinary board.

How would the crooked Law Society argue against that ? I bet they will try !

Anonymous said...

Very good Peter.I like the way you link all your stuff so we know whats really going on.The Law Society have a reason to be afraid that people find out too much and wise up against crooked lawyers which I have done after regular visits here.

Keep up the good work !

Anonymous said...

I'd imagine the lawyers are most worried about losing the chance to rip off clients so thats why they've been delaying Mckenzie Friends.

Anonymous said...

“There has been voluminous correspondence & meetings with the Law Society over the regulation question. Clearly they want to keep control even though the general public experience with the Law Society handling complaints is mostly negative.”

Wow is that stating the obvious or what ?

These f*king civil serpents need a dose of sackings and losing all their money to legal villains then they might change their tune !

Anonymous said...

"At the end of the day, legal services is a business, as lawyers are in it to make money", and self regulation makes it more profitable by covering up lawyer corruption.

This is what frightens lawyer riff raff.

Peter Cherbi said...

I agree with the sentiments expressed in the comments so far today.

Over the many articles I've written on McKenzie Friends for Scotland, one of the most telling points I'd have to say is the FORTY YEARS in which McKenzie Friends have been denied to Scots, while court users in the rest of the UK have been able to use the services of a McKenzie Friend.

Now, if you all think about it, FORTY YEARS is a long time for a group of people who profess to have the public's best interests at heart, to deny that same public the same rights of access to justice & assistance in a court which the rest of the country had, without need of legislation or long drawn out arguments about whether it should take place or not.

What this all boils down to in my view, is, as someone put it in a comment on an earlier article, Scotland being held to ransom by the legal profession's governing body who are more interested in protecting their own profits, and control over access to justice, than allowing Scots the right of access to justice in our own land.

This group of individuals in the 'legal establishment' who have in-effect, interdicted an entire nation's access to justice for FORTY YEARS, simply to protect their own profits, must be a very miserable, malignant group of people who have no right to control who has access to legal services and who goes without.

Support McKenzie Friends for Scotland - a way for all Scots to access courts & justice, without the need for expensive, divisive solicitors more intent on looking after their own interests, than looking after ours.

Anonymous said...

Yes Peter I agree.40 years says it all.If the Law Society wanted they could put McKenzie Friends through in a few days but due to lawyers losing out financially its been held back for generations.

TRULY DISGUSTING.THE LAW SOCIETY OF SCOTLAND SHOULD BE STRIPPED OF ITS RIGHT TO DO ANYTHING AND NOT BE ALLOWED TO CALL ITSELF "SCOTLAND" IN ITS NAME

Anonymous said...

Whats all this about Law Society people interfering with our politicians about this ?
That should be banned because the Law Society are a lobby group for lawyers only absolutely nothing to do with making our lives better in any way at all.

Anonymous said...

The Scottish Parliament assured us that the SLCC would be independent of the Law Society - ha! just disregard the transfer of personnel from the latter to the former - and would have a majority of laymen on it's board.

Nwither of these promises were honoured and yet the present unsatisfactory arrangement is allowed to persist.

So if Which magazine and its readers want to see an end to self regulation by the Law Society and the Faculty of Advocates the lesson is clear - lodge another Super-Complaint.

Anonymous said...

With respect to your excellent work Peter I think it actually boils down to the fact Scotland has such a flawed controlled justice system we have to rely on a blogger/campaigner to provoke changes in the law and help a few people out of problems that lawyers claim only they can deal with !

Now that is one fugged up banana republic justice system !

Anonymous said...

Peter I see a British doctor wants to sue a German doctor for the death of his father.

We both know if one of the British doctor's partners had killed a patient, the doctor above would want everything covered up.

This is lawyers and doctor's the world over, they only challenge each other if one of their families are the victim. Tragic for this family yes, but there are thousand of victims of these professions who do not count, and cannot get legal representation in the first place.

Anonymous said...

LAW SOCIETY POWER IS DIMINISHING, IT IS THE JUSTICE BLOCKING SOCIETY THAT IS A THREAT TO EVERY CITIZEN IN SCOTLAND.

LAWYERS ARE THE PITS.

Anonymous said...

Cracking site Peter and getting the consumer lot onside is the way to win.

Anonymous said...

HERE IS ONE GREAT TRUTH.

THE LAW SOCIETY OF SCOTLAND, PROTECTING PENMAN AND OTHERS, HAS RUINED THE REPUTATION OF EVERY LAW FIRM AND SOLICITOR IN SCOTLAND. I URGE ALL SCOTS TO TREAT THESE PEOPLE LIKE DANGEROUS RATTLESNAKES AND AVOID AT ALL COSTS.

SCOTLAND'S LAWYERS DO NOT CARE ABOUT THEIR CLIENTS, AND SOME OF THEM ARE NOW SHOUTING FOR TRULY INDEPENDENT REGULATION. WHY? THE WAY THIS IS GOING THEY WILL HAVE NO WORK TO GO TO, LAWYERS HERE IS YOUR DILEMA, INDEPENDENT REGULATION AND JUSTICE FOR CLIENTS, OR LAW FIRM BUSINESS FAILURES. THE LATTER IS WHERE WE ARE AIMING.

Anonymous said...

THE LAW SOCIETY OF SCOTLAND IS KILLING THE LEGAL PROFESSION EVERY DAY.

THERE IS NO TRUST, THAT VITAL FACTOR IN EVERY RELATIONSHIP, PROFESSIONAL OR PRIVATE, LAWYERS ARE THE ENEMIES OF THEIR CLIENTS, AND DANGEROUS TOO.

I LOOK EVERY DAY FOR LAW FIRMS GOING BUST, SO THAT I CAN REACH FOR THE MALT. THE ECONOMY WILL RECOVER UNLIKE THE REPUTATION OF SCOTLAND'S LAWYERS, FOREVER CAST INTO THE ABYSS.

Anonymous said...

Mr Mill,

You could have avoided your resignation, and the damage to your profession. But your loyalty to Penman, and Marsh UK could not be broken and you have stained the legal profession forever.

We spread the word every day so that our friends and their friends know what they are dealing with when they make an appointment with one of Scotland's lawyers. Corruption will cost all of you, your reputations and cashflows. You only have yourself and your colleagues to blame Mr Mill, it is not nice being on the receiving end is it?

Anonymous said...

Yet another reason we should ditch the Law Society altogether.It is clearly neither representing the profession nor the public interest as Mr Cherbi has stated for many years.

Anonymous said...

People have felt lawyers should be independently regulated for years but the problem is the Scottish Executive,Scottish Office before it and now the Scottish Government dont give a damn and never listen to us or are bought off by the legal profession from making any changes to independent regulation.

I know plenty about this as I've written letters to Alex Salmond and MacAskill over my complaint to the Law Society which involves fraud against the Legal Aid Board and guess what ? both of them don't give a damn and nothing has been done yet my lawyer demanded money off me to take a case to court he had been funded by legal aid to defend me on.Beat that !

Anonymous said...

Good to see Which? doing their bit

Anonymous said...

"At the end of the day, legal services is a business, as lawyers are in it to make money, not simply to uphold the values of justice. If consumers are to have confidence, and trust in that business, it must be independently regulated by the formation of a body with no ties whatsoever to the legal profession, or sympathetic self regulators who have their own interests in continuing the quagmire of ‘crooked’ self regulation which the Law Society of Scotland have practiced for years, directly against the consumers best interests."

Well said Peter.I support this 100%

Anonymous said...

9:14pm

Yes exactly.The Law Society is a lobby group and they should be booted out of Parliament.Why should they have apparently unrestricted access to politicians and I cant even get a reply from my own msp ?

Ridiculous !

Anonymous said...

Obviously Which? mean the SLCC is as bad as the Law Society even though the SLCC claim themselves to be independent so we need yet another organisation to regulate lawyers because the first two are crooked !

As for the McKenzie Friend thing - it should have been in years ago and you are right about the 40 year wait Peter.Anyone who makes people wait 40 years for justice deserves to be ****

Anonymous said...

another one here trying to get this stupid SLCC to hear my complaint and after 11 letters we are still no nearer a solution

all they want to do is play for time and persuade me against even making the complaint ! some regulator and they are definitely NOT independent !

Anonymous said...

Alex Salmond and Kenny MacAskill are just like Douglas Mill.

Anonymous said...

If consumers are to have any confidence in Scots lawyers Peter, I think the Law Society should be hauled before the Human Rights Court and face charges of deliberately obstructing justice to an entire population for four decades !

Anonymous said...

Great blog and you write very well Peter.The lawyers didn't bargain for the fight you have given them and anyone who fights lawyers deserves a medal in my book !

Keep up the good work.

Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...

another one here trying to get this stupid SLCC to hear my complaint and after 11 letters we are still no nearer a solution

all they want to do is play for time and persuade me against even making the complaint ! some regulator and they are definitely NOT independent !

I TOTALLY AGREE, IT IS THE SCOTTISH LEGAL COVERUP COMMISSION.

Anonymous said...

Self regulation - the world of the bankers lawyers cops judges accountants doctors you name it they have it & you name it they get away with it right up to murder.

Self regulation should be scrapped for all and independent regulation replace it.Of course not like the equally corrupt SLCC.This time it has to be proper independent not playing at independent.

Anonymous said...

Will MP's charged with theft hide behind Parliamentary Privilidge as lawyers hide their crimes behind self regulation? Imagine if income tax laws were as favourable as the rules were on MP's expenses. Public servicesw would grind to a halt.

Self Regulation = Colleagues exonerating the crooked from the legal consequences of their actions. Like MP's expenses it is legalised theft.

Anonymous said...

What a fascinating insight into the legal world Mr Cherbi.

I certainly would support independent regulation of lawyers and pleased to see Which? feels the same.

On the McKenzie Friend subject I know someone here in Manchester who used a McKenzie Friend in court and won his case.He had no idea McKenzie Friends were not available in Scotland and asked me why so I told him to read your blog for a clearer explanation.

Anonymous said...

http://thescotsman.scotsman.com/scotland/Great-and-the-good-raise.6050732.jp

Great and the good raise a glass to this year's Scottish Legal Awards nominees

Published Date: 08 February 2010
By Christopher Mackie

FINALISTS for the Scott + Co Scottish Legal Awards 2010 gathered for a drinks reception in the elegant surroundings of Edinburgh's Hotel du Vin on Wednesday to celebrate reaching the final stage of the competition.

As anticipation mounts ahead of the main event, more than 60 guests turned out at the reception hosted by the judges and sponsors of the awards programme which reaches its conclusion at a gala lunch in March.

Among the attendees were representatives of Digby Brown, Harper Macleod and Morton Fraser, who will contest the prize of DX Firm of the Year at the forthcoming event.

They were joined by three nominees for Specialist Lawyer of the Year – one of the most hotly contested categories, with six solicitors in the running.

Shipping and transport lawyer Ed Watt of HBJ Gateley Wareing; Andrew Rigby of Brodies, an outsourcing professional, and Graham Walker of specialist firm Road Traffic Law were also in attendance, as were representatives of the judging panel and sponsors.

David McLaughlin, managing partner of lead sponsor Scott + Co, welcomed the attendees to the event. He said: "We're very pleased to see so many bright and talented individuals here this evening.

"I understand the standard of entry has once again been very high. It's clearly been a case of, 'When the going gets tough, the tough get going' so this year I think we have some of our best legal professionals in the finals."

The prizegiving ceremony takes place at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre and will feature a guest speaker to entertain those in attendance.

The identity of this year's act will be revealed shortly and they will be hoping to emulate the stimulating speech given by Lord Paddy Ashdown, who appeared last year.

• The Scott + Co Scottish Legal Awards lunch takes place on Friday, 19 March. To book a table at the event, please e-mail Isla@kdmedia.co.uk or log on to www.thelegalawards.com to download a booking form

A GATHERING OF THE CRIMINALS TO GIVE THEMSELVES AWARDS FOR MURDERING CLIENTS !