Scotland’s Freedom of Information Chief Kevin Dunion. SCOTLAND’s FOI COMMISSIONER Kevin Dunion has ordered the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission to release information relating to its research on the Law Society of Scotland’s notoriously corrupt Master Policy, the insurance protection scheme designed to protect the ever growing number of crooked lawyers in Scotland again claims for compensation to cover the millions of pounds of funds misappropriated from clients each year by solicitors in Scotland without recompense.
SLCC’s David Smith expressed anti-client jibes in emails around the anti-consumer law complaints quango. Among the papers ordered to be disclosed in a decision published late last week by Mr Dunion are emails containing anti-client jibes from one of the SLCC’s board members, David Smith who was personally appointed to the SLCC by Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill. Mr Smith, a lawyer who served much of his career at law firm Shepherd & Wedderburn, who themselves often act for the Master Policy in protection of questionable solicitors against negligence claims, referred to participants in the Master Policy survey & deceased clients who had committed suicide as a direct result of involvement with the Master Policy, as “Frequent flyers”, a term (among many unprintable) apparently widely used among SLCC Board members & staff against anyone who submits complaints against solicitors.
Evidence from earlier FOI releases featured in newspapers points to SLCC’s anti client culture among board members & senior officials. The redacted, but readable emails from David Smith to SLCC staff including the SLCC’s Chief Executive Eileen Masterman , who resigned recently in mysterious circumstances after a 6 month absence from work, support evidence from earlier FOI releases which featured in the national media, there is a hate fuelled anti-client culture operating at the highest levels of the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission, which has seen other board members such as Glasgow divorce lawyer Margaret Scanlan who was revealed in emails to have rubbed victims of crooked lawyers as “complete chancers” while of course, having nothing to say about her legal colleagues conduct. In additional emails, other board members chastised consumer organisations, and sought to exclude them from the Master Policy investigation, no doubt for fear of what would be revealed …
My earlier article on the SLCC’s demands that Scotland’s FOI Commissioner shield David Smith’s anti-client jibes, which can be read here : Scottish Legal Complaints Commission demand judge’s husband’s insults against solicitors clients be shielded from FOI investigation
SLCC’s Master Policy report revealed client suicides, board members were more interested in attacking victims instead of helping them. Mr Dunion’s decision, commenting on the SLCC’s argument to withhold the already visible written attacks by its board member David Smith against participants of the Master Policy survey stated the SLCC had argued against disclosure of the information, including Mr Smith’s anti-client remarks, saying : “In citing section 30(b)(ii) of FOISA, the SLCC noted its concern that, if disclosed, the terminology used in this email exchange could be misinterpreted, and argued that effective working relationships with key stakeholders outwith the SLCC requires a certain amount of private space for discussions to take place.The SLCC went on to argue that not being able to discuss cases freely and openly in email for fear of being misinterpreted would affect the way it records information in the future, requiring change to its whole way of working and adding expense and delay which would substantially prejudice the free and frank exchange of views.”
Basically, the SLCC are arguing that it’s staff & board members just want to sit there and rip the living daylights out of consumers who fall victim to rogue lawyers while board members shower £135K a year on themselves in lavish expense claims and staff earn anything up to £1350 per week. It sounds reminiscent of the orgy of client hate which fuels the Law Society of Scotland … so its clear where the SLCC has learned its nasty habits from …
Mr Dunion rejected the SLCC’s arguments to keep secret its board member’s bitter attitude towards consumers, and ordered the release of the information relating to Mr Smith’s anti-client jibes, along with a further eight documents withheld by the SLCC relating to the Master Policy research carried out last year which I reported on here : 'Ground-breaking' investigation into Law Society's Master Policy insurance reveals realities of corrupt claims process against crooked lawyers and also here : Suicides, illness, broken families and ruined clients reveal true cost of Law Society's Master Policy which 'allows solicitors to sleep at night'
Mr Dunion’s decision in full can be read here : Decision 089/2010 Mr Peter Cherbi and the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission : Master Policy and Guarantee Fund Research
A separate issue which was raised in the investigation – that of the SLCC’s poor quality redactions which led to the identification of individuals names, locations & contact information was dealt with ‘as a separate issue’ by Mr Dunion, and apparently no action was taken by Mr Dunion against the SLCC in this respect, even though individual's home addresses had been disclosed by the SLCC’s failure to properly redact several documents released under FOI.
A legal insider speaking this morning on condition of anonymity dubbed the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission as ‘nothing more than a den of bitterness against those who complain about their solicitors’.
He said : “Clients who are forced to complain to the SLCC about their solicitors should be in no doubt they are hated at all levels of the organisation.”
He continued : “It is common knowledge there are those at the SLCC who constantly slur, insult and tell jokes about clients who have written into the organisation after being put in the most difficult circumstances by their solicitor’s failings. I’m sure these poor clients would not be impressed if they knew what was being said about them behind their backs”
An official from one of Scotland’s consumer organisations which is now receiving letters complaining against the SLCC itself, alleging the quango is covering up for crooked lawyers, said this afternoon : “It is clear from the public feedback we are receiving, the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission is not the solution to resolving the historical problems of bias in the regulation of Scotland’s legal profession which now date back many years.”
Advice ? Don’t trust a regulator that hates consumers. Based on my previous articles reporting on news & consumer difficulties with the SLCC, I also would not advise any member of the public to trust the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission to investigate any complaint against a solicitor. Those who complain may well get the results of an investigation but you can bet there are so many get-out-of-jail clauses for the solicitor concerned, it wont be worth the paper its printed on. The Scottish Legal Complaints Commission is, as so many now say, nothing more than a front organisation for the Law Society of Scotland and crooked lawyers.
Only fully independent regulation of legal services in Scotland will bring any protection for consumers and I urge anyone who can, to campaign for independent regulation of the legal profession – its in everyone’s interests to do so.
As for Mr Smith and the others at the SLCC who apparently hate clients who dare complain about their solicitors, well, why don't you all resign and make way for people who the public can trust, instead of people who just sit there insulting everyone and keep taking the expenses & salaries cheques for doing so … what is that called again ?