Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Calls for Scottish Parliament to debate future of Law Society as lawyer admits people of Scotland deserve independent regulator of legal services

Scottish Parliament’s Petitions Committee to hear more details over Law Society resignations. IN an update to this article, today's session of the Scottish Parliament’s Petitions Committee will not be discussing Petition PE1388, a petition lodged by Mr William Burns calling for the Law Society of Scotland to be scrapped, after the Scottish Parliament surprisingly confirmed this morning the petition will not be heard during today's committee meeting.

MSPs were due to be told of further, well publicised disagreements between some of Scotland’s top lawyers & the Law Society over legal aid fees & media censorship, 'disagreements' which have now led to at least eight resignations from the Law Society and produced a surprising, if welcome claim from a high profile solicitor, the Govan Law Centre’s Mike Dailly, that "the people of Scotland deserve an independent statutory regulator of legal services".

The Law Society’s current difficulties, come amidst an ongoing confrontation between the Society & members of the Glasgow Bar Association which has now escalated into the threat of a legal challenge by the GBA to the Law Society’s authority to regulate & represent the legal profession. The powers which allow the Law Society to regulate & represent the profession were granted to the Society in the Solicitors (Scotland) Act 1980, the same legislation which Petition PE1388 is now asking Holyrood to scrap.

Mike DaillyGovan Law Centre’s Mike Dailly resigns from Law Society. Over the weekend, campaigners sensed a significant boost to their demands to reform regulation of Scotland’s legal profession and bring about the demise of the Law Society of Scotland in its current format after the Govan Law Centre’s Mike Dailly, who resigned late last week from the Law Society’s Council and as Convener of the Society’s Access to Justice Committee, made an astonishing statement in his resignation letter claiming : “My experience on Council of the LSS [Law Society of Scotland] has taught me two things : the people of Scotland deserve an independent statutory regulator of legal services and ; the Scottish legal profession deserve the right to choose who represents them.”

Mr Dailly’s resignation letter which accuses the Law Society President & the Scottish Legal Aid Board of collusion in attempting to silence solicitors criticism of the way SLAB operates, can be read in full at “The Firm’s” website HERE.

The Herald newspaper reported on a possible legal challenge to the Law Society’s authority. The series of resignations at the Law Society of Scotland began nearly two weeks ago with the resignation of former Glasgow Bar Association President John McGovern from the Law Society’s Council. Mr McGovern, who is known to have been critical of the Law Society over a number of policies including its stance on alternative business structures, and the Society’s dual role of representation & regulation, resigned claiming the Society has "a fundamental dishonesty at its core". Several days later, the Herald newspaper featured references to Mr McGovern’s resignation and a possible legal challenge to the Law Society’s authority by the Glasgow Bar Association (GBA) in a report, available HERE although it should be noted while the GBA was apparently happy to pursue the Law Society in the courts over requirements of membership, a spokesman for the GBA was quoted in the Herald report, stating : We have no problem with the Law Society’s regulatory role.

The issues surrounding the resignation of John McGovern from the Law Society were mentioned, although in no significant detail, by John Wilson MSP at the Scottish Parliament's Petitions Committee last week, as I reported here : Scottish Parliament raise questions over senior lawyer’s resignation, legal threats & claims Law Society has “a fundamental dishonesty at its core”

Since last week’s meeting of the Petitions Committee, events have somewhat overtaken the Law Society of Scotland & Scottish Government’s desire to shut down debate on , Petition PE1388, with the resignation of two additional Law Society Council members, Mike Dailly & David O’Hagan, and the entire membership of the Access to Justice Committee, all reported in Saturday’s edition of the Herald newspaper.

Campaigners and solicitors alike are now calling for a no holds barred debate at Holyrood on the future of the Law Society of Scotland and its dual roles of representing & regulating solicitors, as well as its duties of representing the public interest in legal issues as enshrined in the Solicitors (Scotland) Act 1980.

A solicitor speaking to Diary of Injustice yesterday, supported calls for a fuller debate on the Law Society’s future and more input into the petition currently under consideration at the Scottish Parliament which calls for the Law Society to be axed.

He said : “MSPs should now take the opportunity to support this petition by calling for further evidence from all parties with an interest on how best to proceed with changes to the legislation which has given the Law Society almost limitless power & conflicting roles of representing the rights of solicitors and the public.

An official from one of Scotland’s consumer organisations supported Mr Dailly’s call for Scots consumers to have an independent regulator of legal services.

She said : “Regulation of legal services in Scotland is currently provided by the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission as the first point of contact for consumers who complain about their solicitors, and the Law Society of Scotland."

"In the case of the SLCC, there is evidence to suggest the SLCC is not viewed by solicitors or consumers as independent. In the case of the Law Society of Scotland, there is long standing evidence to suggest the Law Society is not viewed as independent.”

She continued : “The SLCC was created as an independent body to regulate complaints against solicitors after the Scottish Parliament looked at regulation of the legal profession in 2006. However the SLCC appears to have frequently failed public expectations on key issues such as its monitoring role over the Master Policy. It is my view the SLCC as it currently stands has failed to deliver as an independent regulator of legal services in Scotland.”

She concluded : “Mr Dailly in his position as a solicitor is correct to have raised the issue of separating the Law Society’s functions of regulation & representation with a call for independent regulation of legal services in Scotland. This is an issue our organisation has campaigned on for many years and therefore I continue to support calls for an independent regulator of legal services in Scotland.”

The Scottish Government were asked to comment on claims contained in Mr Dailly’s resignation letter that the people of Scotland deserve an independent statutory regulator of legal services. A spokesperson for the Scottish Government said : “Scotland already has a robust system of regulation in place for the legal profession”.

On the matter of Mr Dailly’s allegations the Scottish Legal Aid Board put pressure on the Law Society of Scotland to silence his committee’s criticisms of SLAB and proposals to merge the Legal Aid Board with the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission, which were reported by Scottish Law Reporter last year HERE & HERE, the Scottish Government’s spokesperson said : “Both the Law Society of Scotland and the Board have refuted these allegations and we have full confidence in the Scottish Legal Aid Board”

Lets not kid ourselves here, the spate of resignations over at the Law Society of Scotland and the legal threats from the Glasgow Bar Association are more about legal aid payments to solicitors & law firms in Glasgow’s stipendiary magistrate courts than they are about defending the public’s right to expect an independently regulated legal profession.

However, if those who are now calling for independent regulation of the legal profession wish to make their mark and show the public a level of selfless community service which has never before come from the legal profession, they should make haste and go to the Scottish Parliament, presenting their arguments for :

(i) A fully independent regulator of the legal profession to replace the three shams, being the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission, the Law Society of Scotland & the Scottish Solicitors Discipline Tribunal.

(ii) The creation of a new democratic FOI compliant body to replace the Law Society of Scotland to represent the rights of solicitors, and

(iii) The creation of a powerful independent body to represent the public interest in legal affairs & legislation, as well as the rights of clients & consumers who use legal services in Scotland.

Its not rocket science, people, its justice, and providing access to justice through a well regulated, capable, trustworthy legal services market for Scotland in the 21st Century is surely something we can all achieve for the greater good of the community, instead of the greater wealth of a few in the legal profession.

In the light of the extra window of debate of the petition, I would hope those who have expressed issue with the Law Society will come forward and offer their opinions either in writing or in person to the Petitions Committee to aid the progress of Petition PE1388.

39 comments:

Anonymous said...

Dailly wants independent regulation.Now THAT is a laugh!

Anonymous said...

I saw this in the hootsmon http://news.scotsman.com/scotland/Law-Society-rebels-quit-in.6725182.jp

Seems you are right its more about money than protecting their backs against complaints

Anonymous said...

The Scottish Government were asked to comment on claims contained in Mr Dailly’s resignation letter that the people of Scotland deserve an independent statutory regulator of legal services. A spokesperson for the Scottish Government said : “Scotland already has a robust system of regulation in place for the legal profession”.

WTF ?
More praise for the Law Society even with all these scandals ?

Anonymous said...

Excellent article, clearly self regulation must end.

Anonymous said...

“My experience on Council of the LSS [Law Society of Scotland] has taught me two things : the people of Scotland deserve an independent statutory regulator of legal services FILLED WITH CLIENTS and ; the Scottish legal profession deserve the right to choose who represents them.” YES THE LAW SOCIETY ARE RUINING YOU ALL.

Yes Mike the current complaints structures kill clients complaints. It amounts to legalised abuse of human beings for the benefit of Scotland's Lawyers.

I told a member of staff at my local jobcentre to Google crooked lawyers as they have mortgages etc. He was shocked. I am sure Mike you would be fighting if you were a ruined client. The Law Society is killing public trust in the profession, and I welcome your change of view. Now we need action.

MacAskill will have smoke coming out of his ears, but I am sure that will not bother you Mike. MacAskill is the same as Douglas Mill, driven to protect lawyers no matter what their victims have endured. Our tenacity is infinite, we fight not olly for ourselves but to (WARN ALL SCOTS HOW DANGEROUS LAWYERS ARE.)

Yelland and his cronies should be jailed for the client suicides, but we know it will never happen.

Anonymous said...

If Dailly has something useful to say which it sounds like he has I agree he should say it to this Petitions Committee and tell the truth about the Law Society's self regulation empire.

Anonymous said...

MacAskill supports self regulation, he should now resign.

Peter Cherbi said...

Thanks for your comments.

I have been told this morning the Petitions Committee will not be considering Petition PE1388 today, which seems odd as anyone who watched the video footage from last week's meeting or was present at the debate expected it to be on the table for discussion this week.

Given the further window for input into the petition I would hope those from the legal profession who have seen fit to broadcast their claims that Scots deserve an independent statutory regulator of legal services, write into the Petitions Committee or even ask to attend in person to present oral evidence to support their claims and their own inside experiences with the Law Society of Scotland.

I will endeavour to keep readers updated of the situation.

Anonymous said...

TO HONEST LAWYERS OUT THERE, HOW DO WE KNOW WHO YOU ARE? HOW CAN WE TRUST YOU? LAWYERS HAVE THE DOUGLAS MILL'S OF THE PROFESSION TO THANK FOR THIS SITUATION.

Anonymous said...

Masters who control the lawmaking process create slaves. The SNP victimise all Scots.

Anonymous said...

I dont think Dailly will come forward.Its one thing to say it in a letter quite another to back it up in public.
Something about requiring backbone as we used to say before everyone became wimps.

Anonymous said...

afraid of what might come out eh?

Anonymous said...

Law Society orders no discussion?

Anonymous said...

Any legal challenge in a Scottish court by the GBA against the Law Society will fail because there are no Scottish judges brave enough to rule against the Law Society.If they did they would probably be found the next week in some river with a badly written suicide note.
The Law Society can always rely on fear to keep it in power and incidentally if I were Dailly I'd be watching out for revenge of the Law Society after what he said about them even if it is probably all true.

Anonymous said...

Your report reminds me of a proverb, something about a sinking ship and rats......

Peter Cherbi said...

# Anonymous @ 1 March 2011 13:26

You could be right about any legal challenge failing in a Scottish court ...

I understand from the rumour mill Mr Dailly was going to be replaced by a certain retiring MSP ... although certain well publicised comments in the media attributed to that retiring msp (who I shall not name) may have ruined those plans for now ...

However, the Law Society are on the way to appointing a new Access to Justice Committee although the phrase "Access to Justice" at the Law Society means keeping control of justice within the legal profession, not widening access to justice for all Scots ...

Anonymous said...

Something sinister going on here because I watched that video in your previous story and it sounded like they were going to talk about it this week

Holyrood doesn't want to debate the Law Society's future by the looks of it

Anonymous said...

I'm not surprised no one wants to talk about it considering the headlines over the past few days about the Law Society and then some married swinging lawyer in the Sunday Mail.

No matter.The issue must be debated at Holyrood and msps must remember they are not just in their jobs to service the Law Society of Scotland's wants & demands.

Anonymous said...

If msps want to show some honesty about all this they should ask Daily in for a discussion.

Anonymous said...

I understand from the rumour mill Mr Dailly was going to be replaced by a certain retiring MSP ... although certain well publicised comments in the media attributed to that retiring msp (who I shall not name) may have ruined those plans for now ...

Oh well we know who that is haha another ex politician stooge for the Law Society rewarded for his praise of Douglas Mill?
How does Dailly feel being replaced by a Tory haha

Anonymous said...

The Law Society can always rely on fear to keep it in power and incidentally if I were Dailly I'd be watching out for revenge of the Law Society after what he said about them even if it is probably all true.

THE PHRASE TOTALITARIAN LAW SOCIETY SPRINGS TO MIND, USE FEAR LAW SOCIETY BUT DO NOT DO TO MR DAILLY WHAT YOU DID TO MR CUMMINGS. YOU CANNOT ATTACK YOUR CRITICS, CAN YOU?

YOU ARE RESPONSIBE FOR THE HOLES APPEARING BELOW THE WATERLINE OF YOUR LAW SOCIETY SHIP, BY RUINING THE REPUTATION OF EVERY LAWYER IN SCOTLAND. MR DAILLY HAS RESIGNED BECAUSE OF THE INTENSE CORRUPTION.

Anonymous said...

Excellent blog & excellent analysis of the law.
I'd like to suggest you go and tell this Petitions committee what its really like being on the sharp end of the Law Society.At least they'd get the media perspective and some of your campaign experiences instead of a bunch of lawyers moaning they aren't getting their own way!

Peter Cherbi said...

# Anonymous @ 1 March 2011 15:14

I think everyone was under the impression it was going to be discussed today ...

# Anonymous @ 1 March 2011 20:50

It remains to be seen the exact reasons why Mr Dailly resigned ... although I doubt it was for the greater good of client protection from the Law Society ...

# Anonymous @ 1 March 2011 22:51

I'm not allowed to attend, after what happened with the Law Society & my own petition ... and anyway why waste time talking to people who have already made up their minds to preserve the Law Society as it is.

I feel I should remind readers what we are witnessing with crop of resignations at the Law Society is more an internal dispute within the legal profession over money, rather than the start of something which may ultimately benefit consumers and end the Law Society's role as self regulator of the legal profession ... and it will do nothing to clean up the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission, where as I now understand it, the backstabbing is so intense, the only trustworthy individual is the Chair's dog, Dougie.

It certainly is a dogs life when it comes to dealing with regulation of the legal profession ...

Anonymous said...

Good on you Peter don't have anything to do with that disgrace of a parliament.You have my eternal respect!

Anonymous said...

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-glasgow-west-12608979

Can a country where sex offenders get a right to debate yet no one is allowed to debate the Law Society or how solicitors are regulated claim it is a democracy ?

I dont think so

As you can see on the BBC lawyers will fight to allow criminals out of jail yet they will never allow debate about themselves and how they fit up their clients or steal from legal aid.

Anonymous said...

Tory Justice Committee Convener Bill Aitken shamed into resignation over his comments on a rape case.

Is the Law Society going to appoint this nasty person to its access to justice committee?

Anonymous said...

I knew it all along Peter - none of these lawyers will turn on the Law Society unless its in their own interests to do so and of course money is always at the end of it.
If the Law Society end up with too many problems they can always by their own mob off as usual!

Anonymous said...

"It certainly is a dogs life when it comes to dealing with regulation of the legal profession ..."

I can imagine it is

Anonymous said...

Unions have reacted angrily to reports that GP practices could be partially floated on the stock market - making profit for both doctors and private companies.

An investigation by Channel 4 News has discovered the Health and Social Care Bill, currently going through parliament, contains few safeguards to protect patients from conflicts of interest.

The reforms will see about £80 billion of the NHS budget handed to GPs, who will buy in services.
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The investigation has found evidence of GPs with shares in private companies which provide services to the NHS for profit.

At present, primary care trusts (PCTs) decide what care to buy for patients but in future GPs will decide, meaning they can send patients to companies in which they have a stake.

A leaked document obtained by Channel 4 News also shows how one private company plans to work with groups of GPs under the Government's reforms. It sets out how both the company, in this case Integrated Health Partners (IHP), and GPs could make a profit. It suggests that if 5% is saved from patient budgets, this can be shared as profit between GPs and the company.

IHP is involved with a number of GP consortia in Surrey and aims to list on the stock market in three to five years, Channel 4 reported.

The head of IHP, Dr Oliver Bernath, did not deny the potential for profits but told Channel 4 there would be a balance, with points for outcomes, meaning savings would not be made at the expense of providing quality patient care.

He told The Guardian: "The whole NHS is £80 billion in spending and if GPs can take underspends then we can get a large audience fairly quickly. Investors will find it very attractive fairly quickly."

Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said: "The fact that family doctors could be set for windfall profits under the Government's plans, which will see them controlling £80 billion of the NHS budget, will horrify and alarm the public."

Anonymous said...

Too afraid to allow you into Holyrood are they Peter ?
They are probably worried you will tell it as it is and probably reveal a few of their own secrets too.

Well done for keeping up the good fight!

Anonymous said...

When does the PPC next meet?

Anonymous said...

“My experience on Council of the LSS [Law Society of Scotland] has taught me two things : the people of Scotland deserve an independent statutory regulator of legal services and ; the Scottish legal profession deserve the right to choose who represents them.”

So what do you intend to do about it Mr Dailly?
I only hear silence..

Anonymous said...

Nearly nine out of 10 (89%) doctors think increasing competition in the NHS will lead to services being fragmented, a poll has shown.

Some 65% believe competition between providers, including NHS and private companies, will reduce the quality of patient care, while 61% think the Government's reforms mean they will spend less time with patients.

The survey of British Medical Association (BMA) members was carried out by Ipsos Mori.

Overall, 18,456 BMA members in England were invited to complete an online survey and 1,645 responded - a response rate of 9%. Of those who replied, 66% said the proposal for GPs to lead commissioning of services will lead to even greater health inequalities.

Most doctors believe NHS reforms will lead to increased competition but only one on five think they will improve care.

Some 67% think closer working between GPs and hospitals would improve services for patients, but only 34% have faith the reforms will lead to this.

The King's Fund think-tank also published a new report saying market forces alone will not improve hospital services.

It said the Government's reforms of the NHS, with GPs in control of the budget, are unlikely to result in strong commissioning of services. Yet such commissioning is needed to reconfigure some services, including cancer, cardiac and stroke care across large geographical areas.

Shadow health secretary John Healey said: "David Cameron's been quick to say doctors will be the big winners from his NHS overhaul. But here we have further evidence that even most of them think it will damage patient care."

A Department of Health spokesman said: "Change is often met with apprehension. That's why we will continue to listen to doctors and to support them. But doing nothing is not an option. With growing demands on healthcare and outcomes, like cancer survival rates, amongst the worst in Europe, we need to modernise the NHS now."

Anonymous said...

The Scottish Parliament's blatant protectionism of the Law Society of Scotland, and its abandonment of the priciples permitting any meaningful acces to justice, is disgusting.

Anonymous said...

Once again not a word of Television coverage by our 'independent' Broadcasting Services - what a disgrace.

Anonymous said...

Yes I agree the SLCC has failed to deliver on anything - Peter wrote a few weeks ago it had only upheld 1 complaint in 3 years !

What kind of a regulator is this if there are over 1000 complaints a year about lawyers ?

Anonymous said...

Its all about money and nothing else - I dont think Dailly or any of his GBA chums care a toss about independent regulation and anyway its already quoted in the Herald as you said.

Anonymous said...

The people of Scotland OBVIOUSLY deserve an independent statutory regulator of legal services however we are not going to get it while the Law Society is in charge of everything are we ?

Anonymous said...

(i) A fully independent regulator of the legal profession to replace the three shams, being the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission, the Law Society of Scotland & the Scottish Solicitors Discipline Tribunal.

(ii) The creation of a new democratic FOI compliant body to replace the Law Society of Scotland to represent the rights of solicitors, and

(iii) The creation of a powerful independent body to represent the public interest in legal affairs & legislation, as well as the rights of clients & consumers who use legal services in Scotland.

Perfect now if only your ideas could be made to work I think we might see the back of long drawn out complaints investigations which result in nothing more than a slap on the wrist!

Keep up the good work Peter