Thursday, April 08, 2010

‘Anti-consumer theatre’ goes on as lawyers narrowly vote through Law Society support for ‘Tesco Law’ Legal Services Bill proposals

Law Society of ScotlandLaw Society of Scotland saw close vote. The Law Society of Scotland has managed to survive to fight another day (for now) after 2,245 of its solicitor members voted to support the Society’s ‘current policy’ of supporting the Scottish Government’s Legal Services (Scotland) Bill, which aims to bring wider consumer access to justice in Scotland by introducing non-lawyers into the legal services market, while also allowing the current crop of law firms to seek outside capital & investors for their businesses.

Ian SmartLaw Society President Ian Smart. Ian Smart, President of the Law Society of Scotland, said in a Press Release : “The narrowness of the result clearly illustrates just how the issue has brought out widely divergent views across the profession. While there have been a few heated remarks on the wider fringes of the debate, I believe that the vast majority of solicitors still wish to try and find a united way forward. These results will therefore inform the ongoing policy debate which will also continue both in private and reconvened special general meeting later this month.

He continued : “There are, I believe, already areas of consensus on some models of ABS but more work still requires to be done to find an overall solution to what is, undoubtedly, one of the most important issues faced by the Society in my more than 30 years of professional life. Trying to find an agreement will continue to be the number one priority of all of us within the leadership of the Society."

This is how the vote actually turned out on the referendum on Alternative Business Structures :

Question 1 : “Do you support in principle the introduction of Alternative Business Structures ("ABSs") to Scotland as long as there are appropriate safeguards to protect the core values of the legal profession and there is an equivalence of regulation between ABSs and traditional firms ?”

In response to the first referendum question 2,245 solicitors voted in favour of the introduction of alternative business structures, as long as there are appropriate safeguards, while 2,221 voted against.

Scottish GovernmentVote by lawyers is seen as attempt to gain more concessions against consumer choice of legal services from Scottish Government. While the Law Society narrowly secured the vote, it did so on the basis there will be more concessions from the Scottish Government on the Legal Services Bill, more concessions which will effectively translate into a watering down of the proposals not only on the ‘safeguards over who owns law firms’ issue, which according to one senior Government insider “is really a bit of a smoke screen by solicitors who actually want the issue of non-lawyer entrants into the Scottish legal services market scaled back”, thus restricting wider consumer choice before it is even enabled.

Question 2 : “In the event that the Legal Services (Scotland) Bill enabling ABSs to operate as Licensed Providers is passed into law, should the Law Society of Scotland apply to be a Regulator of such Licensed Providers?

On the second question, according to the Law Society, a decisive 81% of votes were in favour of the Society applying to be a regulator of ABSs if they are introduced.

The 4m Crooked Lawyer - Daily Record 1991Allowing Law Society to continue regulating legal services would leave clients facing ‘same old crooked regulator of same old crooked lawyers’. Unsurprisingly, while the vote on the first question of safeguards over non-lawyers owning legal firms was narrow, the second vote on ensuring the Law Society of Scotland will be ‘apply’ to be the Scottish Government’s ‘approved regulator’ of new non-lawyer entrants into the legal services market passed by a significant margin, leaving the prospect for Scottish consumers the Law Society of Scotland, that failed, notoriously corrupt self regulator of solicitors who have whitewashed tens of thousands of complaints against ‘crooked lawyers’ over the years, will again be the first stop for any poor client who finds themselves in difficulty at the hands of one of the new style non-lawyer legal firms to emerge if the Legal Services Bill passes the Scottish Parliament.

If only consumers & clients could have a referendum, without any interference from the legal profession itself, what would we say about the situation of having to use the same anti-client Law Society of Scotland to investigate complaints against non-lawyer legal firms ?

An official from one of Scotland’s consumer organisations condemned the whole affair as “nothing more than a piece of anti consumer theatre staged by the legal profession to blackmail the Scottish Government into watering down the plans for wider consumer access to justice”.

While some solicitors leading the fight against the Law Society’s ‘public’ stance over the Legal Services Bill have claimed the vote was ‘nobbled’, the problems for the Society are not over yet as the Special General Meeting, originally called for by the Scottish Law Agents Society, adjourned mid-vote at its first hearing at Murrayfield, is now to go ahead once more on 16 April 2010 at 10am at the Sheraton Hotel in Edinburgh. Consumers obviously not invited …

To some spectators, the squabble between factions of the legal profession over the Legal Services Bill may seem as an internal affair, however the passage of the bill will, or at least, should, usher in greater choice of legal services for Scotland’s consumers, who have long been held hostage by the solicitors who dominate Scotland’s closed shop legal services market, forcing anyone who requires access to justice to use a Law Society member solicitor, as there has been no alternative to that arrangement to-date.

You can read my own coverage of the Legal Services Bill here : Legal Services Bill for Scotland - The story so far

25 comments:

Anonymous said...

You are probably correct about this being staged all along but make no mistake the vote was rigged.

If the Murrayfield meet had not been adjourned the LSS would have lost the vote.They simply went out and found some more votes to make up the numbers but not too much to make it look suspicious.

Anonymous said...

Allowing Law Society to continue regulating legal services would leave clients facing ‘same old crooked regulator of same old crooked lawyers’

Exactly what we should be avoiding and as you say this is all just a ploy to get their way.Good thing you dont miss much Mr Cherbi !

Anonymous said...

The following report in today's Herald is a good example of why we need new blood in the legal services market.

http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/crime-courts/family-lawyers-drop-legal-aid-1.1018606

Anonymous said...

Glad to see at least one consumer organisation has the measure of the Law Society's dubious agenda.

MSPs must end self regulation now and not let a failed 'regulatory' system continue, let alone expand its remit.

Anonymous said...

I've been following your coverage on the Legal Services Bill.

I share your belief this is all just a piece of theatre on the Law Society's part to make sure they get their way later on.

Anonymous said...

Politics matters, what politicians do affects your lives, your families and your grandchildren. What lawyers, accountants and doctors do affects your lives.

Get wise, learn from us. I notice when we accuse self regulators of corruption THEY DO NOT DENY IT BECAUSE THEY KNOW WE THE DISSIDENTS ARE RIGHT.

Just like I said before to Lord Hamilton, you cannot oppress members of the public who unlike you are accountable in law forever.

Tesco law we say yes.

End self regulation yes.

End a legal banana republic dictatorship in Scotland.

I think we will agree Peter that corning a self regulator through written evidence makes them squirm, but they never want to fight in a court of law. There is immense power in truth, that is why Penman's army cannot silence you. Victory to the dissidents.

To all new readers, have a look at www.sacl/info to see the faces of Scotland's banana republic legal dictators.

Anonymous said...

On the second question, according to the Law Society, a decisive 81% of votes were in favour of the Society applying to be a regulator of ABSs if they are introduced.

No need to rig the vote on that question then !

Anonymous said...

While there have been a few heated remarks on the wider fringes of the debate, I believe that the vast majority of solicitors still wish to try and find a united way forward.
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And all because the Law Society saved Penman. Mr Smart there is not one lawyer in Scotland I could trust. When enough people get stung we need to destroy the hive.

Anonymous said...

An official from one of Scotland’s consumer organisations condemned the whole affair as “nothing more than a piece of anti consumer theatre staged by the legal profession to blackmail the Scottish Government into watering down the plans for wider consumer access to justice”.
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Exactly, and as far as regulation is concerned if this was a political party it would amount to dictatorship. The Law Society want to maintain legal dictatorship so we cannot trust lawyers at all.

Law Society as regulator is just legal dictatorship, self policing is injustice in action.

Anonymous said...

16 April 2010 at 10am at the Sheraton Hotel in Edinburgh. Consumers obviously not invited …

Well they are voting on issues concerning consumers so maybe we should all go along to the Sheraton in Lothian Road and protest !!

Anonymous said...

Good idea about a referendum for clients.

I for one would vote against the Law Society because they do nothing for us as you continue to prove.

keep up the good work !

Anonymous said...

First Dailly wants to break away from the Law Society now he wants to join the Council using this issue as a platform to succeed.

I voted for ABS and I am a 'High Street' solicitor.The fact is even if Tesco and others enter the market I think you will probably find many people will still use solicitors just as many still use their local plumber even though bigger firms offer similar services.

Get over it Mike and get lost.You dont have my vote and never will.

Anonymous said...

I wonder who the 24 are ?

Anonymous said...

The SGM at the Sheraton is a solicitor only affair.

If any of the injustice crowd show up I will personally make it my business to have them arrested.

Print this and stick it!

Anonymous said...

You know these people too well to be fooled although its a pity the parliament never asked more searching questions of Smart when he showed up at the justice committee.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

The SGM at the Sheraton is a solicitor only affair.

If any of the injustice crowd show up I will personally make it my business to have them arrested.

Print this and stick it!

YOU ARE AGAINST NON VIOLENT PROTEST, CIVIL RIGHTS. YOU STICK IT FOOL.

Anonymous said...

The claims of a rigged vote are pure fantasy from Mike Dailly.If he had any evidence he should call in the Police which I'm willing to bet my year's profits he wont.

Anonymous said...

“nothing more than a piece of anti consumer theatre staged by the legal profession to blackmail the Scottish Government into watering down the plans for wider consumer access to justice”

Probably the best description of the events of the past few weeks I've read online.

Anonymous said...

If the Scottish Govt buckle to this scam they deserve to be kicked out.Lawyers cannot be allowed to dictate conditions to an elected government who are trying to allow people more choice in services.
As you said in an earlier posting lawyers and their products are a business so those paying for this business should have the right to choose where to go and who they want to handle their legal work.

Anonymous said...

Good analysis Peter

Anonymous said...

First Dailly wants to break away from the Law Society now he wants to join the Council using this issue as a platform to succeed.

I voted for ABS and I am a 'High Street' solicitor. The fact is even if Tesco and others enter the market I think you will probably find many people will still use solicitors just as many still use their local plumber even though bigger firms offer similar services.

Get over it Mike and get lost.You dont have my vote and never will.
-----------------------------------
I am not a member of the legal profession but I think the above solicitor is right. If he or she has treated clients fairly, just like a local plumber doing the same, repeat business will follow, not necessarily from the same cliens but from clients friends, word of mouth so to speak. I agree with this solicitor and that is a rarity indeed.

Dailly is just worried about his little firm in Govan, self interest nothing else.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

First Dailly wants to break away from the Law Society now he wants to join the Council using this issue as a platform to succeed.

I voted for ABS and I am a 'High Street' solicitor. The fact is even if Tesco and others enter the market I think you will probably find many people will still use solicitors just as many still use their local plumber even though bigger firms offer similar services.

Get over it Mike and get lost.You dont have my vote and never will.

IT IS A PITY IF THIS LAWYER TREATS CLIENTS FAIRLY HE IS HELD IN THE SAME ESTEEM AS THE PENMANS. PEOPLE WHETHER THEY BUY A CAR, WASHING MACHINE, BUILDING SERVICES GO BACK TO COMPANIES WHO PUT THINGS RIGHT QUICKLY IF THERE IS A PROBLEM. LAW FIRMS WILL BENEFIT FROM THIS TOO.

I DO NOT KNOW THIS LAWYER BUT IT IS A PITY, THAT IT WOULD BE DIFFICULT FOR ME TO TRUST ANY LAWYER. THAT IS WHAT CROOKED LAWYERS AND THE DOUGLAS MILL'S PENMANS HAVE DONE, DESTROYED THAT ELEMENT OF PARAMOUNT IMPORTANCE IN A PROFESSIONAL OR PRIVATE RELATIONSHIP, TRUST.

THE DAILLYS AND HAMILTON ARE DOING THE DEBATE NO GOOD WHATSOEVER.

Anonymous said...

"Justice For Scotland" is a group formed by greedy lawyers who are angry they might lose their little empires and business to outside competition.Nothing to do with Justice more to do with MONEY and GREED.

http://www.journalonline.co.uk/News/1007869.aspx

"Justice" group calls for No vote to ABS
31 Mar 10
Open letter calls for message to Scottish Government and reform of Law Society of Scotland

A coalition of solicitors calling itself "Justice for Scotland" has called for a double No vote in the referendum currently being held by the Law Society of Scotland.

The referendum asks whether solicitors support in principle the introduction of alternative business structures ("ABSs") to Scotland, if appropriate safeguards are in place, and whether the Law Society of Scotland should apply to be a regulator of licensed providers under the Scottish Government's Legal Services (Scotland) Bill.

An open letter from the coalition, signed by five solicitors, claims that to permit ABS would open up control of legal services to "purely commercial organisations", which will abandon non-profitable areas of advice, and that legal services will be open to organised crime as no amount of regulation will be able to prevent money launderers and others moving in.

The group calls for a double No vote in the referendum to "send a message" to the Scottish Government, and for reform of the Society "as it has shown itself incapable of representing all of those trying render a legal service in Scotland now and in the future".

The five solicitors who signed the letter are Frank Maguire and Patrick McGuire of Thompsons, Law Society Council member Walter Semple, John McGovern, President of the Glasgow Bar Association, and Mike Dailly of Govan Law Centre.

Messrs Maguire, McGovern and Dailly have subsequently confirmed their intention to stand as representatives for Glasgow on the Society's Council in elections due to take place this May. Mr Semple will seek re-election.

Peter Cherbi said...

# Anonymous @ 13.19

Thanks for that link.

I am aware of the 'group' and its aims, which as you say seem to be more about money and control over legal services than obtaining justice for members of the public.

Anonymous said...

Know anything about the following ?

http://timesonline.typepad.com/law/2010/04/mcgrigors-rides-to-rescue-over-tesco-law-split-in-scotland.html
McGrigors rides to rescue over "Tesco law" split in Scotland

The head of Anglo-Scottish law firm, McGrigors, has ridden to the rescue in a move to heal a rift over the future shape of legal services in Scotland, the Law Society Gazette reports. Managing partner Richard Masters wants the majority ownership of a legal business to stay with solicitors when "alternative business structures" (ABSs) are introduced next year. The only exception would be where solicitors are in business with other regulated professionals such as accountants or surveyors.

The change would prevent banks or supermarkets taking a majority stake in a law firm as they will be able to do in England and Wales from October 2011.

The McGrigors motion is to be debated at a special general meeting of the Law Society in Scotland, requisitioned by lobby group the Scottish Law Agents Society, which has spearheaded opposition to ABSs in Scotland.

The meeting was adjourned last month when the Society agreed to review its policy of support for ABSs after heated exchances between different factions of the profession. The depth of the split in Scotland over plans for so-called "Tesco law" was laid bare last week when the 10,500-strong society announced the result of a secret ballot. Some 2,245 members were in favour of the society's support for the reform and 2221 against, with a record turn-out of 43 per cent taking part in the ballot.

Ian Smart, president of the Law Society of Scotland, said the meeting had been adjourned to allow for discussions on finding a compromise. "Holding the SGM on the morning of April 21 should allow for the outcome of the SGM to be clear before the Scottish Parliament discuss alternative business structures in the stage 1 debate on the Legal Services (Scotland) Bill."