Friday, March 19, 2010

Scottish Government back down on lay appointments to Law Society Council as lawyers interests threaten to break pro-consumer legal services bill

Scottish GovernmentScottish Government backed down after threats from lawyers. AFTER TWO WEEKS of bitter campaigning by solicitors who threatened to derail passage of the Legal Services (Scotland) Bill through the Scottish Parliament over certain powers which allowed Ministers to appoint non-lawyers to the Law Society’s ‘decision making’ Council, it has been revealed the Scottish Government has caved in to demands from the legal profession who want the Law Society’s ‘decision making’ Council to remain an exclusive lawyer-only affair.

The sudden climb-down by the Scottish Government, who are now also expected to cave into more demands from the legal profession intent on watering down the Legal Services Bill proposals to retain their long held monopoly over the public’s access to justice in Scotland, come after an intense two weeks of campaigning by solicitors, law firms, and even the Law Society of Scotland, who, while officially supporting the Legal Services Bill, were privately threatening to kill off the bill’s chances of securing a successful passage in the Scottish Parliament, after it became known several MSPs had been contacted by Law Society officials & individual solicitors keen to see the bill would not accumulate enough support for its passage into law.

Fergus EwingFergus Ewing, the Scottish Government’s Minister for Communities & Safety was wheeled out at a Law Society ‘road show’ to announce to angry solicitors their beloved ‘Council of the Law Society of Scotland’ would remain a lawyer-only club, making the following announcement :"The power of Scottish Ministers to make regulations specifying the proportion of lay members and the criteria for selection was intended as a fall-back, only to be used in the unlikely event that there would be a need to resolve any disagreements regarding the proportion of lay members.”

Mr Ewing continued : "Following representations from the Law Society of Scotland, in which it re-affirmed its commitment to lay appointments, I no longer consider it necessary for Scottish Ministers to have this fall-back power. Therefore, I intend to bring forward an amendment at Stage 2 of the Legal Services (Scotland) Bill to delete section 92(4), (5) and (6) of the Bill."

Ian SmartIan Smart, still pulling the strings against wider transparency at the Law Society. Ian Smart, President of the Law Society of Scotland welcomed the Scottish Government’s capitulation to lawyers vested interests, saying : "This is an important concession and very good news for the profession. The government promised to listen to the Society and the profession’s representations and they have done so. We, along with others, have pressed hard for changes to key aspects of the Bill and I am very pleased that the first of these have been taken on board and that amendments will be made.”

Mr Smart continued along the theme of putting a gun to the head of the Legal Services Bill & wider consumer rights of access to justice : "We’ve had a constructive working relationship with the government which we want to continue, and we will be seeking further amendments. Independence of the legal profession is essential and we have stressed throughout the ABS debate that, along with the profession’s core values and principles, it cannot be compromised. We have also maintained that consumers must be protected and that access to justice is a priority – legal services is not and cannot be seen as a purely commercial activity.”

Mr Smart seems to think the way in which Scottish solicitors fleece the public with expensive, poor quality legal services should not be treated as a purely commercial activity, rather he casts up these non-existent ‘core values & principles’, of what one may ask ? What values do solicitors have these days when consumers have a better chance of winning the Euromillions lottery than finding an honest law firm in Scotland who wont rip them off ?

Law Society of ScotlandLaw Society wins the day again after the usual threats of a split & intimidation of Scottish Government. Section 92 of the Legal Services Bill had required the Law Society to appoint a number of non-solicitor members to its Council to represent the public interest - a joke, surely as the Law Society have never represented the public interest. The now withdrawn proposals would also have allowed Scottish Government Ministers after ‘consultation with the legal profession, to set limits or requirements on how many non-solicitors would sit on the Law Society’s Council.

The proposals drew bitter arguments from within the legal profession, which boiled over onto television with arguments between the Law Society’s current president, Ian Smart & Mike Dailly of the Govan Law Centre, who along with several other law firms aligned to the Glasgow Bar Association threatened to split from the Law Society over the issue of control of the Law Society’s Council and perceived Ministerial interference, which it was claimed, would lead to a fundamental loss of the legal profession’s independence.

I reported earlier on the arguments within the profession which led to today’s climb-down by the Scottish Government, here : Lawyers squabble over control of legal services monopoly & regulation as Scots consumers forced to wait for wider access to justice, accompanied by a video clip, worth watching again :

Law Society’s Ian Smart & Govan Law Centre’s Mike Dailly argue the toss on Legal Services reform :

Law Society of ScotlandLaw Society wins the day again after the usual threats of a split & intimidation of Scottish Govt. While it may look to some the bitter arguments between lawyers & the Law Society threatened to disturb the ‘harmony’ of the legal profession, seasoned observers are well used to these kind of tactics, where part of the profession will break off in an outburst against Government proposed reforms, while the Law Society feigns support to a certain degree for the disputed Ministerial plans. A few days or weeks later, the plans are then quietly (or as in this case, spectacularly) dropped by Scottish Ministers, allowing the legal profession to regain its harmonious outlook of ripping off consumers and getting away with it.

SLCCScottish Legal Complaints Commission : ‘A Government Agency’. Earlier this week, the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission was even dragged into the fight against the Legal Services Bill by lawyers desperate to retain their monopoly over regulation of complaints and the public’s access to justice, when the Law Society’s Chief Executive Lorna Jack launched attacks at the hapless law complaints quango, branding it a “Government Agency”.

Lorna JackAttempt to deflect attention from Law Society’s woes ? Lorna Jack attacked Scottish Legal Complaints Commission. Lorna Jack said earlier this week in comments issued to magazines & newspapers : “We also need to be aware of the law of unintended consequences. The easiest way to split the functions would be pass regulation to the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission. That would remove a huge amount of control from the profession and hand it to a government agency – and that could be a serious own-goal.”

The usual turn of events then ensued after Ms Jack’s comments appeared in the media, with other ‘personalities’ emerging from the legal profession’s blood stained woodwork to issue veiled threats if the Scottish Government handed over all the Law Society of Scotland’s present regulatory functions to the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission, there would be more trouble in store for the Legal Services Bill and anyone supporting it …

Replying to Ms Jack’s outbursts against the SLCC and pleas for solicitors unity, Mike Dailly of Govan Law Centre said the Law Society should combine with the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission in a new, slimmed down regulator, with representation left to existing & new professional associations. Personally, I doubt that could work, as Mr Dailly is simply proposing a Law Society take-over of the SLCC, which already appears to have happened without anyone particularly noticing ….

Mr Dailly in his online blog at “The Firm” is also reported to have called for Ian Smart to step down as Law Society President, for, as Mr Dailly alleges, failing to promote the interests of solicitors - above everyone else by the sounds of it …

MacAskill tight lippedJustice Secretary Kenny MacAskill is no fan of independently regulating fellow solicitors. Given the equally hapless Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill has made it be known he has no intention of creating an independent regulator of legal services in Scotland – presumably because Mr MacAskill fears independent regulation as much as any of his more crooked colleagues in the profession itself, we can expect the Scottish Government to settle for ‘the quiet life’ and back down yet again, giving the Law Society total control over regulation once again, as if it already doesn't control the SLCC as things currently stand …

Today, the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission refused to comment on Ms Jack’s ‘Government Agency’ jibe, preferring to point out in a statement “The SLCC does not intend to comment on the article that appeared in the Scotsman. The status of the SLCC is defined in the Legal Profession and Legal Aid (Scotland) Act 2007, Schedule 1 Sections 1 (1) and (2) and there is a link to the Act on the SLCC website.” – sounds as if they have a lot of confidence in themselves …

Given the developments of this past week .. it may well be that Scots are not going to receive much of a fairer deal for access to justice or access to legal services, certainly if the legal profession & the Law Society of Scotland have their wicked way once again …

47 comments:

Anonymous said...

I can see there's no fooling you Mr Cherbi.

Incidentally although I'm sure you already know Mr Dailly DOES NOT speak for the entire West Coast legal fraternity even though he thinks he does.

Anonymous said...

So Fergus had to stand in for MacAskill who should have made the announcement anyway since its his Justice Department's bill.

How many other capitulations can we expect from the weak-kneed Scottish Executive ?

Anonymous said...

wasted 5 minutes of my life watching eck bollocks salmond's ppb with all the pro Scotland guff and now see they are just f'ing cowards against lawyers

what a surprise? not!

Anonymous said...

Clearly the Scottish government (ha!) is firmly in the back pocket of the Law Society of Scotland which despite the window dressing has never been in favour of any reform - unless it wass on its own terms, namely preserve self regulation at all costs.

Disgraceful.

Peter Cherbi said...

# Anonymous @ 16.26

I doubt many people are actually fooled by the Law Society & GBA's Good Cop Bad Cop routine ... its so obvious and so consistent when "reforms" to the legal profession, regulation, legal aid or otherwise are debated in public ...

# Anonymous @ 17.56

Yes, I agree ... the announcement should have been made by the Justice Secretary himself.

On the subject of 'other capitulations' I am told to expect more ... (there is a list, unpublishable due to source)

# Anonymous @ 19.27

Not exactly William Wallace stuff, is it ...

# Anonymous @ 19.35

Yes, exactly ... the Law Society call the shots in Scotland, that much is evident now ...

Finally just a note to a solicitor fan of the blog, who pointed out I had omitted the links to the Scottish Government's Press Release announcing their capitulation, along with references to Lorna Jack's tirade in the media this week, and a link to the Law Society's Press Release of today where Ian Smart welcomes the Scottish Government's cowardice in the face of threats from the legal profession ....

I have amended the article appropriately, all links now present for reference !

Anonymous said...

SNP=COWARDS

Anonymous said...

Lorna Jack said earlier this week in comments issued to magazines & newspapers : “We also need to be aware of the law of unintended consequences. The easiest way to split the functions would be pass regulation to the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission. That would remove a huge amount of control from the profession and hand it to a government agency – and that could be a serious own-goal.”

The only own goal here is the Law Society continuing to exist as regulator and client representative.

Anonymous said...

Very interesting as always Peter.They are all a bunch of crooks !

Anonymous said...

LIKE I SAID BEFORE THE LAW SOCIETY AND ITS MEMBERSHIP ARE THE UNELECTED GOVERNMENT OF SCOTLAND, LIKE THE HOUSE OF LORDS, UNACCOUNTABLE CORRUPT CRIMINALS.

LAWYERS BLOCK ACCESS TO JUSTICE BECAUSE THEY ARE A OMNIPOTENT CLUB WHO SEE EACH OTHER ARE IMPORTANT AND THEIR CLIENTS AS TOOLS TO EXPLOIT.

Anonymous said...

Andrew Penman defrauded my family of an inheritance, faked up papers and file notes, was found guilty by the Law Society of Scotland, but senior Law Society officials intervened in the case to save him and killed the case.


The Law Society of Scotland then made sure I couldn`t sue him in the Courts by killing my legal aid. The case made the press and television and is also featured at the Scottish Parliament Justice Committee website.


For more on the case, visit my website at http://spaces.msn.com/petercherbi

THIS IS WHAT THIS CROOK DID TO PETER. PEOPLE OF SCOTLAND ALL LAWYERS ARE LIKE PENMAN, SERIEL CRIMINALS WHO HIDE BEHIND THE LAW SOCIETY OF SCOTLAND, PROTECTED BY MACASKILL BLOCKING REFORMS TO PROTECT THE PUBLIC.

MR MACASKILL MUST HAVE SOME DIRT TO HIDE IS THE LAW SOCIETIES DUSTY DARK ARCHIVES.

Anonymous said...

Having read your arguments and just watched the video clip I agree this has been a staged piece by the Law Society all along to get these amendments.Thank you for highlighting this very disturbing affair.

Perhaps the Scottish Nationalists should take up Mr Dailly's suggestion and amalgamate with the Law Society to form a thinned down cost effective one party state.

Anonymous said...

lol Peter u dont mince ur words !

cant stand lawyers myself anyway but good to know I was right about them all being crooked !

Anonymous said...

The SNP were very quick to back down just because a bunch of greasy bastard lawyers were worried their profits would go down.

Hope this opens a few people's eyes to voting for a true Scottish party and not the fake SNP who are about as Scottish as the rat pack of leeches at the Law Society.

Anonymous said...

Very little about this online or in any newspapers yet the Scottish Government release is dated yesterday.

Is this yet another case where the media are too timid to print the Law Society get their way again ?

Anonymous said...

Law, a career choice for human rats.

Politics, a career choice for those who support the rats.

Anonymous said...

Even if there were lay appointments on the Law Society council, the Society would just threaten to break a few legs, and the cover ups would continue. These people are teflon gangsters that is all.

Anonymous said...

The Scottish Parliament is the greatest error the Scottish people have made for a long time.

Anonymous said...

http://thescotsman.scotsman.com/scotland/Law-Society-given-a-wigging.6167807.jp

Law Society given a wigging on handling of legal reform ballot

Published Date: 20 March 2010
By Christopher Mackie

THE Law Society of Scotland is acting as "judge, jury and executioner" for the Scottish legal profession by presiding over an "unfair and undemocratic" referendum on legal reform, a leading Scots lawyer has claimed.

Mike Dailly, of the Govan Law Centre, has called on the president of the society to resign over his "Mugabesque" handling of the profession-wide ballot on the introduction of non-lawyer ownership to Scottish firms.

Next week, lawyers across Scotland will be asked to pass judgment on the Scottish government's Legal Services Bill, which will allow the introduction of "alternative business structures" – moves backed by the society.

But Mr Dailly, who was part of the group that forced the vote, has attacked the tactics employed by the society in the run-up to the referendum, accusing its office bearers of "aggressive" campaigning.

Mr Dailly maintains that council members such as president Ian Smart should be neutral in the debate over the reforms that some critics have dubbed "Tesco law" over fears supermarkets could run legal services.

Mr Dailly said: "The Law Society is presiding over a polling exercise whereby it is also the chief campaigner and PR agent for 'Tesco Law'. It's the judge, jury and executioner of the independence of our profession.

"Our office-bearers and officials should be neutral in this debate. They have taken it upon themselves to dictate to members how they should vote. This democratic deficit can only be described as Mugabesque."

He added: "(Ian Smart] has been responsible for an undemocratic and unfair voting process. I believe that our president should go, and go quickly."

The society's council will face a potentially hostile special general meeting on Thursday at which its handling of the reforms will be debated. That will be followed by another profession-wide vote on whether the Law Society should be stripped of its role as representative body for the profession.

Both votes were forced by a growing band of rebel solicitors, angry at measures originally included in the bill that could have seen Scottish ministers permitted to intervene in the make-up of the society's council.

On Thursday, community safety minister Fergus Ewing moved to head off the rebellion, dramatically dropping the controversial measures that critics claim threatened the independence of Scottish lawyers.

Yesterday, Mr Dailly said the announcement was a "positive step", but he added: "The irony is that the Law Society was intimately involved in the drafting of the bill, and were previously not bothered about section 92."

But Mr Smart insisted that both referendums would be independent, secret ballots, run by the Electoral Reform Society. "The Law Society will have nothing to do with it," he insisted. "It is an absurd charge that the ballot is going to be nobbled."

He went on: "I am campaigning for the policy of the Law Society. The policy is to be in favour of ABS. The opponents are openly saying they are trying to overturn that policy. To say the president of the society cannot campaign for its policy is nonsense.

"Fergus Ewing's announcement closes down the debate. Mike Dailly's fox has been shot."

Peter Cherbi said...

# Anonymous @ 12.30

One thing the Law Society is not, is stupid, and I dont think it was the case they were "were perviously not bothered about Section 92" as Mr Dailly claims in the Scotsman article.

From what I hear, and my sources are well placed, the Law Society was always bothered about Section 92 (allowing Scottish Ministers to make lay appointments to the Council) and were simply waiting for the right time to raise the issue as a problem, and ensure the proposal's swift downfall, which is in fact what has just occurred.

How convenient now Mr Dailly raises fears over the impartiality of the referendum within the profession he himself called for ...

Does Mr Dailly believe his own professional body would nobble a vote ? surely not ...

In any case, this bitter feud from within the ranks of the legal profession itself shows us these lawyers and their legal services should be treated as nothing more than a business .. which is what it is, nothing more than a business .. not some noble cause to forward the ends of justice, its rather about charging clients as much as possible, for as little as possible, demonstrating exactly why Scots must have wider choice of & access to legal services with unrivalled consumer protection .. something the Law Society and all its branches or offshoots will never be able to offer ...

Anonymous said...

I think to be a lawyer is to sink to the abyss of human depravity, lawyers never act in the interests of clients, only themselves.

Anonymous said...

Correct Mr Cherbi on all counts regarding Section 92 etc

Anonymous said...

didnt know the Law Society liked to shoot foxes !

Anonymous said...

You do not need a crystal ball to decipher the ways of our wonderful honest decent dependable lawyers will react when we shout for independent regulation and quality legal services.

All of you people out there, you are all potential victims of this power, profit hungry rabble. Lawyers should be held in the same regard as paedophiles, vile evil scum.

Anonymous said...

Self regulation means unchecked power, dangerous indeed.

Anonymous said...

From what I hear, and my sources are well placed, the Law Society was always bothered about Section 92 (allowing Scottish Ministers to make lay appointments to the Council) and were simply waiting for the right time to raise the issue as a problem, and ensure the proposal's swift downfall, which is in fact what has just occurred.

ALL THE MORE REASON TO NEVER TRUST A LAWYER BECAUSE THE ACTIVITIES OF THIS COUNCIL MUST BE VERY CORRUPT INDEED.

Anonymous said...

Regarding your last comment Mr Cherbi I believe you must have inside information because that is exactly the policy the Law Society employed on the Legal Services Bill debate.

Anonymous said...

If lawyers protected clients the way they protect colleagues the dissidents would have nothing to complain about. Great work Peter, exposing this profession of crooked scoundrels.

Anonymous said...

BBC NEWS

People in Scotland over the age of 40 are to get access to universal health checks, Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon has announced.

And she outlined plans for health workers like GPs to play a greater role in tackling alcohol abuse.

Addressing the SNP conference, Ms Sturgeon, the party's deputy leader, also launched an attack on Labour-controlled Glasgow City Council.

She said it was time to "shine a very bright light" on the authority. WHAT ABOUT SHINING A VERY BRIGHT LIGHT ON THE ACTIVITIES OF SCOTLAND'S LEGAL DICTATORSHIP NICOLA. OH I FORGOT YOU HOLD A LAW DEGREE. I DO NOT SEE YOU HELPING VICTIMS OF YOUR CROOKED LAWYERS, ONLY BENEFIT FRAUDSTERS.

Anonymous said...

BBC NEWS

Ms Sturgeon said she was proud to live in and represent Glasgow, but told delegates: "A political cloud hangs over that great city".

She spoke of a Labour "culture of secrecy" and "fear of transparency", where council functions had been "hived off" to arms-length companies and where accountability was "virtually non-existent".

THE HYPOCRISY MS STURGEON, NO "CULTURE OF SECRECY AND FEAR" OF REFORM AT THE LAW SOCIETY, POLITICIANS ONLY SEE WHAT THEY WANT TO SEE.

Anonymous said...

Thankfully I dont live in Scotland so dont need to use these scumbag lawyers but what happened to braveheart and all that claptrap ?
Shouldn't you guys just throw all these crooked lawyers off a cliff somewhere ?

Anonymous said...

Dailly's idea is good in parts,for instance the part about getting rid of the Law Society which I would have thought you would be in favour of !

However what he says about the SLCC on his blog would I assume be unacceptable ?

Anonymous said...

Good afternoon Peter,

A friend of mine looked at your site and sacl/info and is horrified. I told her to check it out last week, she will tell all of her family.

You blog is superb. The lawyers respect you, even though their reputations are in the gutter. That is their fault, you can only report on what they do. The filth in our country are the self regulators, who cover each others crimes up.

Anonymous said...

Having just watched the clip with Dailly & Smart I'd say we would be well rid of both.Thanks also for reminding me about the referendum!

Peter Cherbi said...

# Anonymous @ 22 March 2010 11:57

Mr Dailly's idea for disbanding the Law Society is not a problem for me ... I actually support that part of the argument.

Given however the Law Society is also alleged to represent the client's best interests, a new organisation must be formed to deal with that role, totally divorced from the legal profession itself.

Mr Dailly's idea of merging the SLCC with the Law Society as the singe regulator for the legal profession, is unworkable, at least from the consumer's perspective given the SLCC's performance to-date.

Only fully independent regulation of legal services will give consumers confidence (& protection) from Scotland's expanded legal services market .. if the Legal Services Bill actually passes when it comes to a vote ...

# Anonymous @ 22 March 2010 13:01

A team effort .. anyway, the Law Society is its own worst enemy .. hence all the problems it and its members face today ...

# Anonymous @ 22 March 2010 13:48

Have a good referendum ... and (if you are a solicitor) when you come to vote, bear in mind consumers are also watching this issue with interest ...

Anonymous said...

Hi Peter.It looks like the Law Society are imploding all around you !
Good work get rid of these pests !

Anonymous said...

How does Jane Irvine feel knowing she works for a "Government Agency" or is this all spin & mirrors to get the malcontents back onside ?

Anonymous said...

The Law Society sound like they've went into meltdown over this legal services thing.Keep stirring the pot Peter !

Anonymous said...

I suppose all these warring lawyers only have themselves to blame and of course you too for bringing them down !

Good luck !

Anonymous said...

I can see why people are getting agitated about this pair sitting on the bbc couch because all they are arguing about is money and how to leech more of it for themselves!

Anonymous said...

Is it just me or is there something a bit off about that Scotsman story posted earlier in the comments ?

Their theme seems to focus on the Law Scociety being attacked by their own members but surely the headline should be Fergus Ewing giving into their demands ?

Just goes to show when lawyers get involved the poltiical card gets chucked out the window becuase usually the Scotsman are all attacking the SNP although only in this case do they forget that and go with the lawyers instead

Anonymous said...

Eileen Masterman is at the SLCC for the same reason Sir John Krebbs was at the Food Standards Agency. The latter a passionate supporter of GM Foods, FSA distorted evidence in an attempt to support Tony Blair's policy on mass cultivation of GM Foods in the UK, dispite the fact the press demonstrated 85% of the public did not want GM.

Lord Sainsbury was spending millions on GM Research, and Blair appointed him as New Labour's unpaid Science Minister. The plot thickens when one realises Sainsbury was pouring millions into New Labours party funds too.

Kenny MacAskill appointed Masterman to protect the Law Society Interests. Talk about putting your pals in the right places.

Anonymous said...

The way lawyers treat their clients I'd rather buy a house in a supermarket than through one of them.
Anyway its about time we can do that why do lawyers have to get special treatment to protect their business and charge what they like

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

The way lawyers treat their clients I'd rather buy a house in a supermarket than through one of them.
Anyway its about time we can do that why do lawyers have to get special treatment to protect their business and charge what they like.

PLEASE DO TELL EVERYONE YOU KNOW, LEGAL SERVICES CHEAPER AND WITH COMPETITION BETTER THAN NOW. IF THE SUPERMARKETS WERE IN THE SAME POSITION AS LAWYERS AT PRESENT (THE LATTER HAVE NO COMPETITION) THE MONOPOLIES COMMISSION WOULD FLEX THEIR MUSCLES. DAILLY'S EMPIRE IN GOVAN WILL BE EXTINCT, THAT IS WHAT HE IS AFRAID OF.

Anonymous said...

Tony Blair is a lawyer, and he risked public health on GM for money to support the big biotech companies. Another example of lawyer crookery.

Anonymous said...

None of these characters can be trusted to give us better access to justice because they are all in it for the money and themselves.
I think the OFT should step in and break the whole thing up or if they fail then the EU.
Why should we just sit back and let lawyers say whether we can get justice for our case or not.Its a disgrace !

Anonymous said...

Congrats on this one kid I think you have them on the run and fighting among themselves !
Great payback !

Anonymous said...

A team effort .. anyway, the Law Society is its own worst enemy .. hence all the problems it and its members face today ... YES PETER SELF INFLICTED, THEY ARE REAPING WHAT THEY HAVE SOWN.