Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Civil Courts Review one year on : Scotland’s out-of-reach justice system remains Victorian, untrustworthy and still controlled by vested interests

Lord GillLord Gill’s Civil Courts Review published in 2009 recommended significant reforms to Scots justice system. THE CIVIL COURTS REVIEW, the two year review undertaken by Scotland’s Lord Justice Clerk, Lord Gill which recommended significant, wide ranging reforms to Scotland’s antiquated Civil Justice system, is about to face its first anniversary since publication. However, a year on since the report was launched amid a blaze of publicity, there is little to show by way of reforms to the justice system, which Lord Gill himself branded “Victorian”, failing to deliver efficiency of justice or Scots accessibility of justice.

Lord Gill, in his speech to the Law Society of Scotland’s 60 year anniversary conference last year, said : “The civil justice system in Scotland is a Victorian model that had survived by means of periodic piecemeal reforms. But in substance its structure and procedures are those of a century and a half ago. It is failing the litigant and it is failing society."

He continued : "It is essential that we should have a system that has disputes resolved at a judicial level that is appropriate to their degree of importance and that disputes should be dealt with expeditiously and efficiently and without unnecessary or unreasonable cost. That means that the judicial structure should be based on a proper hierarchy of courts and that the procedures should be appropriate to the nature and the importance of the case, in terms of time and cost.”

“Scottish civil justice fails on all of these counts. Its delays are notorious. It costs deter litigants whose claims may be well-founded. Its procedures cause frustration and obstruct rather than facilitate the achievement of justice."

"Unless there is major reform and soon, individual litigants will be prevented from securing their rights, commercial litigants will continue to look elsewhere for a forum for their claims, public confidence in the judicial system will be further eroded, Scotland’s economic development will be hindered, and Scots law will atrophy as an independent legal system.”

Here we are at the end of August 2010, and sadly little has changed.

Lord Gill’s definition of “major reform and soon” must have translated badly to the Scottish Government & Parliament, falling on the traditionally deaf ears of Scots politicians and the legal establishment, ever keen to ensure ‘access to justice’ remains a money making empire for the legal profession, rather than actually affording the right of access to justice to all Scots in our own country.

Readers can download the Civil Courts Review report in pdf format, from the Scottish Courts Website at the following links :

Of course, it must be pointed out one notable success since the Civil Courts Review was published last September, is the partial implementation of McKenzie Friends for Scotland, so far introduced to the Court of Session and soon to be introduced to all Sheriff Courts in Scotland.

McKenzie Friends for ScotlandMcKenzie Friends for Scotland were only forced through to implementation after Holyrood Petition & November 2009 court ruling. However, the introduction of McKenzie Friends would probably not even have occurred had it not been for two key developments since Lord Gill made his recommendation to introduce the internationally acclaimed lay courtroom helper, where Petition 1247 filed at the Scottish Parliament by Stewart MacKenzie gained significant support & public exposure, effectively forcing the entire issue of lay assistance into the public spotlight, aided by Lord Woolman’s November 2009 ruling in the case of M.Wilson v North Lanarkshire Council & Others (A1628/01), which overtook the slow pace of events at Holyrood and introduced Scotland’s first civil law McKenzie Friend in the Court of Session.

We are now left with the majority of Lord Gill’s recommendations still to be implemented, as the likes of the Law Society of Scotland & Faculty of Advocates seek ways to ensure implementation of the Civil Courts Review’s aim of ‘wider, more efficient access to justice for all Scots’ also equates to pounds in the pockets of solicitors & advocates, rather than heaven forbid, reforming the justice system to the point that most people do not need to run up huge bills with law firms for litigation which could be heard and judged upon in a much speedier, consumer friendly updated civil justice system which the Civil Courts Review recommended.

Indeed, it was the Faculty of Advocates who effectively began the official ‘talking down’ of the Civil Courts Review, as I reported earlier, here : Process of ‘watering down’ Lord Gill’s civil courts reforms begins as Faculty of Advocates question public benefit, costs of access to justice changes

Readers should also note the Scottish Parliament’s debate on Lord Gill’s Civil Courts Review was much less than an assurance the rights of ordinary Scots to justice would be put before the interests of the legal establishment, as I reported earlier, here : Holyrood debate reveals civil justice reforms & McKenzie Friends may be a long way off as Scottish Ministers stumble over Lord Gill review proposals

richard keen qcDean of Faculty supported calls for Class Actions in early 2009, yet over a year on nothing has happened. One example of the malaise which has hit the Civil Courts Review is that of the introduction of Class Actions to the Scottish justice system, an idea once supported by the Dean of the Faculty of Advocates Richard Keen QC, as an idea to take on the big banks. However, since Mr Keen’s call to allow class actions against banks was featured in the Scotsman newspaper in January 2009, the banks have of course, recovered somewhat from their weak bargaining positions of early 2009, and, with a little cash injection of extra sponsorship of events held by the Scottish legal profession, calls for the introduction of class actions since early 2009 have been all but silenced by, what many would term ‘hush money’.

October 2009 : Shirley Anne Somerville MSP speaks on the merits of introducing Class Actions to Scotland, yet one year on, not a hint anything on Class Actions will happen soon.

Debating chamberHolyrood goes slow on justice reforms, so Scots must give their views, campaign for wider access to justice to be implemented sooner rather than later. While Scots wait, and wait, and wait, and wait for the Scottish Government & Parliament to actually do something and ensure the many reforms of the Civil Courts Review are implemented, hopefully sometime before the next election, instead of sometime in the next 500 years, readers can also give their input into the Civil Justice Advisory Group, who have launched their own consultation on the best way forward for implementing the many recommendations made by Lord Gill’s report, an issue I reported on in early August, here : Consumers urged to give their views as Civil Justice Advisory Group launches consultation on key proposals of Lord Gill’s Civil Courts Review

The consultation and seminar feedback will help the Group in formulating a detailed report to the Scottish Government on how it should take forward some of the recommendations of the Scottish civil courts review report.

The consultation paper can be accessed by clicking here : Civil Justice Consultation Response Paper (pdf)

Responses to the consultation should be submitted to Consumer Focus Scotland before 24th September 2010 by email to : civil.justice@consumerfocus.org.uk or via the online response form

By post to :
Civil Justice Advisory Group Consultation
Consumer Focus Scotland
Royal Exchange House
100 Queen Street
Glasgow
G1 3DN

I would urge as many readers as possible to take part in this consultation, for the benefit of yourself and all Scots who need access to a fairer, much improved Civil Justice system in our own land. Access to justice for one, access to justice for all !

32 comments:

Anonymous said...

Great stuff!

Another consultation to discuss the original consultation !

What a fecked up justice system we have in Scotland !

Anonymous said...

Good one as usual Peter
Keep up the pressure !

Anonymous said...

Peter
I think the idea was to talk about reforms not actually make them happen.
Lord Gill will have realised this himself.

Anonymous said...

The Law Society will never let any of this happen unless there is lots of money in it for lawyers.Stuff such as McKenzie Friends and lay representation are things the greedy lawyers dont want to hear or allow.

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't believe too much from "keen Dick" as some call him.He changes his mind more often than the weather though it was nice of you to remind us about his class actions rant in the scotsman which came to absolutely nothing.

Anonymous said...

Given everything Lord Gill said and as you say we are here a year later with no results to show for it shouldn't he say something of equal condemnation on those who are blocking the reforms ?

Anonymous said...

I seem to recall that Lord Gill also proposed that McKenzie Friends be allowed to address the Court, so the recommendation - achieved despite the best efforts of the Law Society and its glove puppets in the Scottish Parliament - has still to be implemented in full.

Anonymous said...

Dear me!

I think Lord Gill will have been well & truly muzzled by now possibly an indication of the silence from the judiciary since his report.

Anonymous said...

Masters of delay that is what they are.

Anonymous said...

Very good Peter and also good to see you giving credit to an SNP msp who seems to know her business for once.

However I am not surprised there have been no developments on Lord Gill's review in the past year other than the McKenzie Friend issue which I agree only came about due to the petition and the court verdict all constantly reported by your blog.

Keep up the good work!

Anonymous said...

I would never work as a lawyer if I had to ruin lives. Lawyers may laugh at this comment but they wont laugh if they meet another Mr Moat. Treating people like dirt will backfire, it is the law of the jungle, only fools ignore this.

Anonymous said...

Its not only the civil justice system which needs reform.If you look at the headlines today regarding the cancers at the National Semiconductors,Greenock you will see that any investigation into a complaint or a grievance is swept under the carpet.Next thing you know they will get some judge to say working with plutonium is safe and you can take it home with you even sleep with it.

JUSTICE IN SCOTLAND EQUALS NO JUSTICE

Anonymous said...

Excellent posting Mr Cherbi.Brian Gill should speak out again in view of your reminder to us all of Holyrood's snail's pace at justice reform.

Peter Cherbi said...

# Anonymous @ 18:16

Well if that is the case, I would encourage the Rt Hon Lord Gill to say a few more words on the woes of the justice system as well as the reluctance of those in power to do something about it ...

# Anonymous @ 19:14

I agree ...

# Anonymous @ 20:06

Yes !

# Anonymous @ 20:22

Yes, the 'super' McKenzie Friend proposal is allegedly now part of the Legal Services Bill via an amendment from the Scottish Government ... which I can see being dropped quietly during the debate stage at the Scottish Parliament ... or killed off by the Justice Committee on orders from the Law Society ...

# Anonymous @ 21:50

There are some good MSPS within the SNP ... its just they are held back by the usual suspects who crave to be in power for as long as possible ... minus John Swinney of course, as he is probably the only credible Finance Secretary Scotland could have during these difficult financial times ...

# Anonymous @ 22:45

Thanks and yes I saw the report on the BBC regarding the HSE investigation at the Greenock factory.

I'm sure there is more to the issue than is being admitted to .... official inquiries are just not worth the paper they are printed on as far as I am concerned ...

# Anonymous @ 22:58

I agree ... and hope he does ...

Anonymous said...

Victorian ? It sounds more like the dark ages are still in play in Scotland !

Medieval chants before breakfast at the Court of Session perhaps ?

Anonymous said...

Law is in Scotland is about descrimination Lord Gill, you will never be rightless as many victims of lawyers are. Look at internet sites Lord Gill against lawyers, proof enough self regulation and self protection are the same.

The Scottish Parliament is a front for the Law Society in all matters legal, a dictatorship. Those MSP's are traitors to the people who elect them.

Anonymous said...

A vote for Independence is a vote to strengthen the position of crooked lawyers. The Law Society are running the show now.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

Its not only the civil justice system which needs reform.If you look at the headlines today regarding the cancers at the National Semiconductors,Greenock you will see that any investigation into a complaint or a grievance is swept under the carpet.Next thing you know they will get some judge to say working with plutonium is safe and you can take it home with you even sleep with it.

SO TRUE ANYTHING THAT MEANS INSURERS WILL HAVE TO PAY DAMAGES ENSURES COVER UP IS THE ONLY SOLUTION. THE ONES DOING THE COVERING UP NEVER NEED TO LIVE WITH THE CONSEQUENCES OF THEIR ACTIONS. AND THAT IS WHAT IS WRONG WITH THIS WORLD, WHETHER A LEGAL DISRUTE OR A DISPUTE BETWEEN NATION STATES. G. W. BUSH, T BLAIR,
LIKE THE JUDICIARY NEVER PAY FOR THEIR CRIMES, THE ONES WHO PAY ARE THOSE WHO SIGN UP OR THOSE WHO ARE INJURED THROUGH NO FAULT OF THEIR OWN, OR ROBBED BY CROOKED LAWYERS.

THE BLAIRS OF THIS WORLD ACT AS IF WE HAVE BACK UP PLANETS TO GO TO IF IT GOES WRONG HERE, NO MR BLAIR WE ARE TRAPPED ON EARTH AND YOU NUTTERS ACT AS IF WE HAVE A BACKUP. CRAZY. WELL AT LEAST THE SELF REGULATORS WILL FRY WITH THE REST OF US.

Anonymous said...

Consumer choice, cars, washing machines, and product or service except law.

In an economy like ours where the equilibrium price links consumers and firms why are lawyers outside this economic system?

The Law Society of Scotland control everything legal. Members of staff there can go to any supermarket or car dealer and have choice. Why should they have this choice when their members clients are locked into a legal dictatorship devoid of choice and open competition?

Vested interests indeed Peter. Clients are locked into a corrupt system of self regulation, corrupt Marsh UK and corrupt Royal Sun Alliance. These people want to represent clients when they have a bulletproof system to protect themselves in place, and clients are the rightless when it goes tits up. It is a scandal and it is as unjust as any dictatorship.

It is time Lord Gill used his influence, make a public speech Lord Gill and tell Scottish consumers the legal system is against their interests, be a maverick.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this Peter.Very interesting that even after a year nothing much happened.As you say the judge needs to speak out some more !

Anonymous said...

I note on some websites (not yours Peter) people calling lawyers various abusive words but this is not good. By all means critizize lawyers and tell people they don't follow up on instructions, they block access to justice etc but abuse is pointless, just warn others of the facts, that is all that is required and I detest the profession.

I would never trust any lawyer at all but it just degrades the debate when people use abusive language. Knowing which law firms have ruined clients will reduce the chances of other clients being treated the same way. Put your energies into naming and shaming because they charged you extortionate fees for poor legal service.

Anonymous said...

Individuals do not have power only groups, and even though Lord Gill has great legal power as part of his group, the latter must be targetted to produce reform, not just the individuals. Smash Law Society power over policymaking and reforms to protect the client will be more of a possibility.

I am sure in many ways Lord Gill will be a decent man, but this fact is no good to clients without legal redress. I am not critisizing you Lord Gill but I am critisizing what I and many others see as legal dictatorship, help in place by a cohort of people more concerned with protecting their financial security than their clients assets. Self regulation is the corrupt problem, please note Lord Gill, the people forming the networks of resistence would not be doing this if self regulation protected clients. It must be crushed at all costs if the legal profession are to rebuild trust with the public.

Anonymous said...

I think I'll frame your comment about "some good MSPS within the SNP" and your thoughts on Mr Swinney !

Good to see you giving credit to Shirley Anne.She is a great asset to the SNP as you seem to recognise.

Anonymous said...

Hope Lord Gill takes your HINT !

Anonymous said...

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-11087147

Scrap civil legal aid, says Adam Smith Institute

Legal aid should be scrapped for almost all civil compensation cases, a right-wing think tank has argued.

The Adam Smith Institute said the current system and no-win no-fee deals were biased towards claimants and offered "dubious value for money". (IT IS BIASED TOWARDS CLAIMANTS BECAUSE THE LAWYERS HAVE TO WIN TO SECURE THEIR FEES). TRY GETTING DAMAGES WITHOUT USING NO WIN NO FEE AND THE LAWYERS, DOCTORS, EMPLOYERS ARE ALL INSURED BY ROYAL SUN ALLIANCE, THEREFORE A COVERUP IS THE RESULT BECAUSE THE LAWYERS AND DOCTORS INSURERS ARE PAYING THE DAMAGES).

SINCE NO ONE CAN SUE THEIR EMPLOYER WHEN INJURIES ARE NOT VISIBLE THE ONLY WINNERS ARE LAWYERS, DOCTORS, AND EMPLOYERS. SO SCRAP LEGAL AID BECAUSE NO EMPLOYEE EVER SUCCEEDS IN LITIGATION AGAINST THEIR EMPLOYER.

YOU LAWYER AND DOCTOR BASTARDS WILL PROTEST, BUT WHY SHOULD THE TAXPAYER FUND LEGAL AID TO PROVIDE FEES FOR LAWYERS AND DOCTORS WHO ARE PROTECTING EMPLOYERS AND ROYAL SUN ALLIANCE WITH COVERUPS.

USE THE LEGAL AID TAXPAYERS MONEY TO FUND CANCER TREATMENT OR SOMETHING LIKE THAT BECAUSE NO LAWYER OR DOCTOR EVER PRODUCES REPORTS WHICH BLAME EMPLOYERS FOR EMPLOYEES INJURIES, ie, RSI, ETC.

I WARN YOU ALL, DO NOT TRY AND SUE YOUR EMPLOYER, I HAVE BEEN THERE AND THE LAWYERS AND DOCTORS WILL COVER UP YOUR INJURIES.

Anonymous said...

Your blog is very interesting Mr Cherbi although I think you need to spread your eye much farther afield than the legal fraternity I have a video of a Policeman who happens to be an executor of a neighbour's property removing furniture from the house at 1am the same furniture ends up in an antiques shop I knew he deals with would this be worth you looking into as the family knew nothing of it until I told them

Peter Cherbi said...

Thanks for all your comments & emails on this article.

I would encourage all readers to take part in the consultation organised by Consumer Focus Scotland ... the more views the better ...

I certainly do not doubt the sincerity of Lord Gill in what he said in his speech to the Law Society or the Civil Courts Review .. although I for one would welcome his further input into the debate to 'get things moving' from the usual Scottish political attitude of ... "we'll see what we can do" and then nothing is done ...

# Anonymous @ 26 August 2010 19:45

If you would like to post your contact details in a comment marked "not for publication" I will see you are contacted by a newspaper better suited to cover your story ...

Anonymous said...

Good posting.I also agree there should be more progress on the civil court review by now.

Too much feet dragging after criticism from the judge shouldn't be tolerated.Makes you wonder why no one bothered to speak out yet except yourself of course.

Anonymous said...

Richard Keen was willing to overturn the asbestos compensation law for the big insurer companies.

Very revealing about the extra sponsorship from the banks which seems to have killed off his enthusiasm for class actions.Amazing what a bung up the back pocket does for values these days.

Anonymous said...

What we have is a sick legal system, a Senior Judge recommending remedies and resistance from politicians controlled by the Law Society to change it. The sick system protects the crooks that benefit from it, Justice, I think not, where legal protection is the criterion the legal practitioners think it should only apply to them.

Step out of the box Lord Gill, a television speech to the public with your views on antiquated justice, perhaps this is the way forward.

Anonymous said...

Doctors are self regulated by the General Medial Council, where complaints get less than a fair hearing according to many patients. If you have ever tried to complain against a Doctor, or medical facility such as a hospital, you will find that self regulation plays an extensive part in ensuring patients complaints are kept within the medical profession, and never really achieve a fair hearing.
=================================
My personal experience is that the people receiving the complaint are more corrupt than the culprit. The NHS complaints system is a doctor protection racket. The only way round it is to espose a corrupt doctor yourself.

Anonymous said...

I certainly do not doubt the sincerity of Lord Gill in what he said in his speech to the Law Society or the Civil Courts Review although I for one would welcome his further input into the debate to 'get things moving' from the usual Scottish political attitude of ... "we'll see what we can do" and then nothing is done ...

Exactly Peter "we'll see what we can do" is justice delayed. Please intervene Lord Gill, victims of crooked lawyers are rightless, I am sure you do not want them to stay that way.