Thursday, April 22, 2010

Bitter feud between regulators as Law Society of Scotland take Scottish Legal Complaints Commission to Court of Session over complaints role

SLCC LAW SOCIETYLaw Society of Scotland in legal dispute with Scottish Legal Complaints Commission. As revealed earlier this week in reports of Ministerial interference with the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission, apparently ordered by the Law Society of Scotland to secure a decrease in the annual complaints levy solicitors are forced to pay for complaints regulation, the Law Society of Scotland have taken legal action in at least four instances against the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission.

Fergus Ewing low resCommunity Safety Minister Fergus Ewing would rather the SLCC’s £1.5 million surplus be paid to lawyers instead of being used to stem public services cuts in the community. The Scottish Legal Complaints Commission have released limited details of the cases, by way of comments responding to the Community Safety Minister Fergus Ewing’s intervention directly on behalf of the Law Society in the budget dispute, which saw Mr Ewing go on to threaten the independence of the SLCC should it not comply with the Law Society’s wishes to lower the complaints levy.

The battle over the complaints levy began when the SLCC revealed it had a huge £1.5 million cash surplus, which consumer groups and politicians are now calling to be paid back to the public purse to cover the commission’s £2 million start up costs. Meanwhile the Community Safety Minister Fergus Ewing is, curiously in favour of seeing the SLCC’s £1.5 million go back into the pockets of his colleagues in the legal profession, rather than help keep afloat public & community services across Scotland.

However, the Law Society are keen to counter any moves to pay back the money to taxpayers, and have opted for a combination of legal action, political intimidation and a public campaign by some of the Scottish legal profession’s more widely known, wider-mouth personalities against the very existence of the SLCC, hoping to force the Commission to refund lawyers the £1.5 million instead repaying the public purse to fund services such as health, education, justice, or community services.

Jane IrvineJane Irvine revealed the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission faces costly legal action from the Law Society. From the SLCC’s media release of earlier this week. Jane Irvine, the SLCC’s Chair said : “Every new complaints body faces an early tranche of appeals over the first 3-5 years of its operation as powers are tested, and currently we are dealing with four Court of Session appeals, lodged by the Law Society of Scotland, under which the Law Society infers that they do not wish to investigate these particular conduct issues.

Jane Irvine continued : “We must have sufficient reserves to defend legal actions and to be in a position to balance the strength of the legal profession as it raises appeals against the lesser strength of consumers, who will raise fewer appeals. We already know the SLCC is facing significant legal costs and, depending on the outcome of these appeals, we may need to change how the SLCC operates.

The Law Society itself will not release comment on their legal action against the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission.

A listing of the cases and their hearings so far, appear from the rolls of the Court of Session as follows :

Law Society of Scotland v Scottish Legal Complaints Commission :

Wednesday 24 June 2009 (Single Bills Extra Division) 3 Law Society of Scotland (represented by Balfour & Manson LLP) for leave against a decision of the SLCC.

Friday 13 November 2009 (Single Bills Extra Division) 19 Debbie Williams (Macbeth Currie & Co) for leave to appeal SLCC

Friday 11 December 2009 (Single Bills Extra Division) 3 Law Society of Scotland (represented by Balfour & Manson LLP) for leave v SLCC

Friday 8 January 2010 (Inner House Rolls Second Extra Division) 1 XA129/09 James McCann (represented by Balfour & Manson LLP) v Scottish Legal Complaints Commission (represented by Shepherd & Wedderburn)

Tuesday 26 January 2010 (Single Bills Extra Division) 4 Debbie Williams (Macbeth Currie & Co) for leave to appeal SLCC

Friday 12 February 2010 (Single Bills Extra Division) 1 Law Society of Scotland (represented by Simpson & Marwick) for Leave to Appeal decision of the SLCC

Tuesday 2 March 2010 (Single Bills Extra Division) 4 Law Society of Scotland (represented by Balfour & Manson LLP) for leave to appeal decision of SLCC.

Wednesday 24 March 2010 (Single Bills Extra Division) 2 Law Society of Scotland (represented by Balfour & Manson LLP) against a decision of the SLCC (represented by Shepherd & Wedderburn).

24 comments:

Anonymous said...

Pot & kettle ?

However this is settled its the legal profession who will end up paying for it via the levy !

Anonymous said...

Taking all regulation powers away from the Law Society would kill this issue stone dead.

Peter Cherbi said...

# Anonymous @ 14.20

Yes, although a source informs me the Law Society are very happy to be using up the SLCC's reserves on legal expenses .. and the Scottish Government seem to be in the game to kill off the SLCC and hands its functions back to the Law Society ...

# Anonymous @ 14.38

I've been saying the same for many years ...

Anonymous said...

Every time there is legal action by the lawyers the SLCC should raise the levy!

Anonymous said...

Friday 8 January 2010 (Inner House Rolls Second Extra Division) 1 XA129/09 James McCann (represented by Balfour & Manson LLP) v Scottish Legal Complaints Commission (represented by Shepherd & Wedderburn)

James McCann of James A McCann & Co Clydebank ?

Anonymous said...

oh well look at it this way Peter.You said this would happen years ago and here we are now talking about it!

Probably also as you have also said its part of a bigger plan for the Law Society to take back the SLCC's role on complaints against solicitors.

Anonymous said...

Just one way to maintain its position, obstruct any complaint against a lawyer and ensure it only rarely if ever comes to a conclusion by innundating others with paper Court actions.

I hope they lose the lot!

Anonymous said...

"Community Safety Minister Fergus Ewing would rather the SLCC’s £1.5 million surplus be paid to lawyers instead of being used to stem public services cuts in the community."

Says it all really.Ewing should be sacked.

Anonymous said...

Do any of these cases have anything to do with Eileen Masterman leaving the SLCC ?

Anonymous said...

I agree its more than just a coincidence these cases are due to be heard while the SLCC & Law Society argue over the complaints levy.
Why nothing in the newspapers so far ?

Anonymous said...

Balfour & Manson
Macbeth Currie
Shepherd & Wedderburn
Simpson Marwick

They will all be rubbing their greedy hands at this little lot !

I also hope the Law Society lose big time and are forced to pay the SLCC's expenses.Hopefully whoever is on the bench will now take notice you've written about it while our gallant brave newspapers run a mile in the event reporting on the cases impacts on their advertising budgets!

Anonymous said...

Fergus should go and join the Law Society because he seems to love lawyers more than the rest of us.We dont need lawyer lovers in the Government and no one in their right mind could argue lawyers deserve money over health services!

Anonymous said...

I am surprised there is so little info on whats going on here so well spotted there Peter.I'm sure they will have to say a lot more now you have outed it.

Anonymous said...

Doubtless you will recommend to stay away from all those law firms !
I know I would !

Anonymous said...

I'm curious about why the SLCC has waited nearly a year to publicise this information.Surely the public were entitled to know as it happened the new complaints regulator was being litigated against by the Law Society and a plethora of law firms.No equivalent Government statement makes this look all the more suspicious.

Anonymous said...

last comment - I'm thinking much the same.

Waiting a year before making any reference to these court cases seems a bit off given the SLCC were created to clean up complaints.

If it were the other way around and the SLCC were taking legal action against the Law Society I'm sure there would have been umpteen 'sponsored' news reports in various newspapers well practised in sucking up to the legal profession.

A good thing we have Peter to keep us posted on these matters of public interest.

Anonymous said...

Hi Peter.

A very good investigation as always.

I note the information relating to these cases is tucked away very neatly on the courts website.

I'm sure we can expect developments now you have written about it !

Peter Cherbi said...

# Anonymous @ 14.55

A good idea ...

# Anonymous @ 15.06

Apparently yes .. and Mr McCann is also the Chairman of the Legal Defence Union ... well known for causing a few clients to go off the rails after attempting to take their 'crooked lawyers' to court ...

More on Mr McCann and the Legal Defence Union can be found here http://www.ldu.org.uk/

# Anonymous @ 15.19

Apparently yes ... a source at SG this evening confirmed the Justice Dept know all about the cases ...

# Anonymous @ 15.32

Sentiments shared exactly ...

# Anonymous @ 15.41

At the very least an independent investigation should take place ... as the Minister clearly was aware the Law Society is also taking the SLCC to court ...

# Anonymous @ 16.10

Possibly ...

# Anonymous @ 16.38

One wonders ...

# Anonymous @ 17.39

Yes ... a bit more publicity on the matter might do some good ...

# Anonymous @ 17.57

I agree entirely ...

# Anonymous @ 19.36

Yes, hopefully ...

# Anonymous @ 20.25

I certainly would advise giving those law firms a wide berth ...

It should also be noted most or all of those firms have connections with the Master Policy.

Simpson & Marwick invariably represent crooked lawyers against clients.

Balfour & Manson have sat on the "pursuers panel" - a cover organisation formed by the Law Society to slow down and kill off claims against the Master Policy.

Shepherd & Wedderburn ... again connected with the Master Policy (not on the side of clients)

Macbeth Currie do work for the SSDT (Scottish Solicitors Discipline Tribunal).

Macbeth Currie made a submission to the Scottish Parliament, they were clearly against many aspects of the Legal Profession & Legal Aid (Scotland) Act 2007, which created the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission. Read their submission here : http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/business/committees/justice2/inquiries/lpla/503_LB503_MacbethCurrie.pdf

If I were seeking legal representation, I would steer clear of all of those firms.

# Anonymous @ 21.06

A good point.

Of course, the SLCC feel threatened, given Fergus Ewing's intervention at the behest of the Law Society, which as some readers have previously pointed out, is entirely inappropriate, particularly given the Law Society is engaged in court action against the SLCC.

The SLCC should have informed us all long ago, as the public are also stakeholders in its remit & function, as well has having funded its creation to the tune of two million pounds ...

# Anonymous @ 22.03

Yes .. if the Law Society were being taken to court, one could expect all manner of pre-arranged headlines coming out of Drumsheugh Gardens ...

# Anonymous @ 22.38

This is Scotland ... the legal profession have become adept at tucking away information no one wants reported ...

Anonymous said...

Sack Ewing and take back the 2mil for taxpayers.
Close the Law Society and the SLCC,making a proper independent body to deal with complaints and make lawyers pay for it whether they want to or not.If not they can always go and be plumbers & electricians.

Anonymous said...

Good stuff Peter.As I said before nothing much gets past you !

Anonymous said...

Criminals they protect lawyers like the Catholic Church cover up priests activities.

Anonymous said...

Macbeth Currie & Mr McCann will not be happy of the attention.

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't want to be at the SLCC right now if you think about it Peter because more than half the staff there come from the Law Society who are suing the SLCC in court.Also from your earlier postings I see many of the board members were also on the Law Society !

How can an organisation cope with such conflicts of interest ? Its madness and shows why it should have been fully independent as you have always campaigned for.

All the best and keep up the good work !

Anonymous said...

Close down both and give Peter the power over crooked lawyers.That will be an end to it !!!

PS Dont feel you have to spare the punishments (although I'm sure you wont !)