Friday, April 15, 2011

REVEALED : £158k of board members rocketing payments & expenses claims at ‘duck-out’ law regulator Scottish Legal Complaints Commission

SLCC ‘little more than a duck-out house for law complaints’ as solicitors clients forced to foot huge salaries & expenses for do-little law quango. EXTRAVAGANT PAYMENTS & rocketing expenses claims of frequently flying board members at the anti-client Scottish Legal Complaints Commission (SLCC) are revealed today for the firs time in their full detail after a decision from the Scottish Information Commissioner Kevin Dunion forced the ‘do-little, do-nothing’ law complaints regulator to disclose the actual claims requests submitted by its board members in true Westminster MP expenses claims style, shining a light into the murky world of remuneration at Scotland’s ineffective law complaints quango.

Documents obtained through Freedom of Information laws have revealed that in the 2009-2010 financial year, remuneration & expenses claims dished out to board members alone amounted to a staggering £158,329.04p yet after three years of existence, the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission has yet to contribute to a single prosecution of any solicitor at the Scottish Solicitors Discipline Tribunal (SSDT), a fact itself which earlier this year promoted criticisms from the Chairman of the SSDT in his annual report which I covered here : Law complaints quango Scottish Legal Complaints Commission 'a failure' as Discipline Tribunal reveals no prosecutions of crooked lawyers in two years

SLCC Chair Jane Irvine featured among expenses documents released under Freedom of Information laws. The documents reveal staggering daily salaries & remuneration of in some cases, well over £300 a day, wages which many employees across the UK can now only dream of yet it all comes so easy at the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission, a so-called ‘independent’ regulator of legal complaints in Scotland which has only managed to uphold one single complaint in its three years of existence as I reported here : One complaint upheld’, 928 more sent back to Law Society & £1.8million spare cash : Scottish Legal Complaints Commission's 2010 annual report

Readers can download & inspect the actual expenses claims of the SLCC’s board members, who are comprised of lawyers, former lawyers, former senior Police Officers & quangocrats, here :

1. 2009-2010 SLCC expenses claims FOI Docs 1-32 (pdf)

2. 2009-2010 SLCC expenses claims FOI Docs 33-65 (pdf)

3. 2009-2010 SLCC expenses claims FOI Docs 66-100 (pdf)

4. 2009-2010 SLCC expenses claims FOI Docs 101-132 (pdf)

The rocketing figures of remuneration & expenses at the SLCC, which is expected to jump even higher in the next financial year after the addition of three new ‘non-lawyer’ board members including yet another soon-to-retire senior Policeman and an additional ‘lawyer-only’ board member who took the job after no one else in the profession bothered to apply, were criticised by consumer groups and solicitors alike today, as bearing little relation the reality of difficult financial times for all.

Several solicitors and law firms contacted by Diary of Injustice admitted the expense to the legal profession of running the SLCC has impacted on charges for legal services in Scotland as many solicitors & law firms faced with a general reduction in business and having to deal with a complicated complaints system using the SLCC & Law Society of Scotland, have been forced to pass on the costs to consumers.

Today, one senior solicitor branded the SLCC “The Scottish Legal Duck Out House Commission.”

He said : “As far as I am concerned the SLCC is nothing but a duck-out for a few people who haven't got much to show for their past three years of operation.”

He went onto claim “This free for all quango with ludicrous salaries & benefits for a few is doing nothing for client confidence in their legal representatives, or restoring any general confidence in the Scottish legal profession yet clients fees have went up to cover the enormous amount of paperwork needed to deal with the SLCC.”

An official from one of Scotland’s consumer organisations commenting on the documents said : “The SLCC appears to spend more time & detail on its expenses claims than actual complaints investigations.”

Last year, the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission gave two different figures for expenses claims in an effort to mislead the media. The first figure offered up for their 2008-2009 financial year was a meagre £6408.96 yet after further investigations & tip offs, the SLCC was forced to correct the suspiciously low figure and reveal a whopping £128,624.00 had actually been paid out to its board members, many of whom have several other jobs and positions on other taxpayer funded quangos.

A feature on the numerous jobs of many of the SLCC’s current board members can be found in an earlier article, here : More ‘jobs for the boys’ than action on ‘crooked lawyers’ : What it takes to be a Board Member at the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission & here : Scottish Legal Complaints Commission refuse to repay £1.7million public funds as board member revealed to sit on Govt. Accounts scrutiny quango

SLCC Expenses claims & salariesThe now former SLCC Chief Executive Eileen Masterman at 70K a year was named in a survey as one of the highest paid quango Chiefs in Scotland at the time. Last year it was revealed While board members of the SLCC raked in a staggering £135,000 plus in expenses claims over the past year, and its Chair, Jane Irvine netted in the region of £308 a day, along with the now resigned due to ill health Chief Executive Eileen Masterman who earned a whopping £1350 per week. During 2009, the complaints body showed itself over the past year to be a very poor regulator of complaints against ‘crooked lawyers’, leaving many clients finding their complaints have been ‘whitewashed’ in a way reminiscent of the Law Society of Scotland’s Client Relations Office investigations, which are well known to have let thousands of crooked lawyers off the hook from even the most serious of complaints.

This year, in spite of the same little-work regime at the SLCC where yet again, most complaints have been passed back to the Law Society of Scotland by the ‘independent’ law complaints quango, an extra £23,000.00 seems to have been added to the expenses & remuneration totals.

SLCC FOI expenses disclosureSlip-up or deliberate attempt to mislead ? : SLCC provided misleading information only admitting to £6k expenses on earlier FOI request. The Scottish Legal Complaints Commission had in 2009, apparently intentionally provided deceptive information to an earlier FOI request from the media over members expenses, where the SLCC claimed the total sums claimed and paid to Members between 1 October and 31 August 2009 at £6408.96. However, when quizzed further on the figures, the SLCC Chair, Jane Irvine issued a new statement contradicting the earlier FOI response on members expenses, and admitted that between 1 October 2008 and 31 August 2009 members received total further payments of a staggering £128,624.00 by way of fees, giving the following 'varying interpretation' reason for the staggering £122,216.00 error in the Commission's expenses accounting figures.

SLCC FOI expenses reviewSLCC Chief Jane Irvine threatened media after FOI requests for board members expenses details. After having to admit the huge discrepancies in the FOI release of expenses claims, the SLCC’s Chair, Jane Irvine, threatened to brand journalists Freedom of Information enquires as “vexatious” in an attempt to control publicity on the SLCC’s board members expenses claims habits. Ms Irvine said : "Having stated all this I have very carefully considered the exact wording of your request as you have directed me to. This might be read two ways. Either as a request for records of all claims for expenses and money paid as expenses - which we have answered, or a request for records plus a request for records of all money paid. I have not sought to clarify this with you. Rather I have interpreted it expansively and in this context advise that between 1 October 2008 and 31 August 2009 Members received total further payments of £128,624.00 by way of fees."

The SLCC had previously argued the mental health & ‘safety problems’ of its board members would preclude any significant disclosure of their expenses claims.


Anonymous said...

I though they only did a couple of days a month!


KacAskill should be jailed said...

So SLCC members would become mentally ill if their expenses were revealed. All self reguators are mentally ill because they think they should not be questioned.

Lets face it folks,

The secret service that is the SLCC and Law Society will generate any excuse to save their skins. Remember the drug dealing lawyer Angela McDeal, when the story broke, yes she was suffering from mental health problems. Zoom, off to the Priory or someplace like that. Any excuse under the sun to save these hoods with law degrees.

There is always a pattern, and a conclusion, lawyer innocent, client ruined.

Go into any law firm. There you will be welcomed by human rats and when they smile and say "how can I help you" ask them to sue a lawyer who has ruined you. Mr Jekyl becomes Mr Hyde. And these people expect clients to trust them with wills, mortgages etc.

Lawyers are human scum devoid of values. And when someone does not have values they are simply evil.

Trust a lawyer at your peril.

Anonymous said...

£1350 a week for complaints about lawyers and they only "upheld" one complaint!

What was the "upheld" complaint?
Did they go through a red light or something?

Anonymous said...

Had a look through the pdfs - no wonder they tried to keep them from you.

Given what you've said about them doing nothing for 3 years they should be made to pay all the money back to taxpayers.

Anonymous said...

Well done, clearly those at the SLCC have been economical with the truth in FOI replies - let's hopr the Daily Record and others follow your lead and publicize this.

Anonymous said...

Nice one Pete.Irvine & her buddies must have kicked their computers on their way out tonight!

Anonymous said...

What with one lot milking legal aid and this lot being paid for by anyone daft enough to use a Scottish lawyer its a wonder there is anything left of your precious Scottish legal system to worry about!

Anonymous said...

LCC Chief Jane Irvine threatened media after FOI requests for board members expenses details.

People like you Jane make me sick, you are a cohort of criminals, above the law and supported by an equally corrupt parliament.

Your type Jane will only be dealt with through naming and shaming, I am convinced there is no political solution to this problem.

Websites like e bay, feedback do not trust Jane because she is on the lawyers side. All lawyers are evil scum and so are those in politics who protect them.

Anonymous said...

SLCC’s Chair Jane Irvine wrote in her annual message about providing a complaints service. Jane Irvine wrote : “Our priority this year has been to provide a complaint service. In my view, the range of legal services provided means our complaints are very diverse.

You know as well as I do Jane that I would have more chance of travelling at the speed of light than obtaining justice against the Scottish legal mafia you love so much.

Do you believe your own spin?

Anonymous said...

Cant find any duck houses in those expenses although there are a lot of higher amounts crossed out and lower ones put in their place.Are they claiming too much or what?

Anonymous said...

"Having stated all this I have very carefully considered the exact wording of your request as you have directed me to. This might be read two ways.
Ambiguity Jane, lies. distortion of facts anything to keep the rats clean, and those who get mega expenses to protect them. You are vile evil people who enjoy protecting Scotland's legal mafia.

Client websites are the only solution, we warn each other, you lot are doing MacAskill's dirty work in keeping scum ruining human beings. If there is a god, (I doubt it) you lot will fry in hell for the suffering you have caused families in this country.

You have no values and people like that are simply evil.

Anonymous said...

“This free for all quango with ludicrous salaries & benefits for a few is doing nothing for client confidence in their legal representatives, or restoring any general confidence in the Scottish legal profession yet clients fees have went up to cover the enormous amount of paperwork needed to deal with the SLCC.”
Correct of course you could claim extra legal aid, it seems to be the in thing at the moment.

I have a rabid hatred of lawyers, none of you are honest, and why should you with people like Jane Irvine and Douggie Mill dealing with complaints.

MacAskill could have saved the taxpayer and lawyers a lot of money, by putting client complaints in the shredder, self regulation is a liars charted and only criminals use it.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps the expenses are actually bonuses, lets face it they are doing an excellent job protecting lawyers, and that is what this quango was really set up for.

I mean lawyers are robbing the taxpayer anyway through legal aid. I think they can get away with murder.

It is astonishing how these people run a so called justice system when they are more dishonest than many members of the public who face a public trial. The only decent lawyer is one that has breathed his last.

Anonymous said...

SLCC Chair, Jane Irvine – our members ‘mental health’ is on the line.

Well Jane if you are going to crack up because of expenses publications you must be on the fiddle, and Scanlan on the razzle, but we know what we are up against.

The issue is political because difference applies here, clients to be exploited and lawyers to be protected at all costs.

You are all criminals, we need public exposure of all your fiddling, only a lawyer loving criminal would accept a job at the SLCC.

MacAskill should be hung drawn and quartered for his conflict of interest and you with him.

Anonymous said...

"Scottish Legal Duckhouse Commission" - I like the sound of that!
Any duck which comes within a mile of this bunch will surely end up in the oven along with any poor unfortunate client of a crooked lawyer forced to seek their help.

An E Bay database against lawyers said...

An E Bay complaints system Jane, we leave feedback for clients and then they choose law firms. Lawyers conduct has to affect them, and only clients can change this.

You know as well as I do Jane it will work and it will kill of the coverups of your quango and your Law Society bosses.

When it spreads we will report lawyers who have been exposed at one law firm to other law firms. We will say firm X has taken on a corrupt lawyer, then that firm will lose clients.

What a rotten vile group of people you are. You are beneath contempt.

Anonymous said...

The Slimy Liars Complaints Commission at it again, who would trust any of these mendacious bastards.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

I though they only did a couple of days a month!


15 April 2011 16:25

That was the idea all along yet as the post says they seem to spend more doing the detail on their expenses claims than actual complaints against these "crooked lawyers" whose clients are paying for them to sit around doing zilch!

Anonymous said...

The following excerpt is taken from the Galloway Gazette's article on the Forster Scandal....

The Gazette reveals how the Law Society of Scotland ignored complaints about disgraced former solicitor John Kennedy Forster for NINE YEARS and only acted after our exclusive coverage of clients' misgivings.

Forster was finally jailed for six and a half years for embezzling over £667,000 from client accounts even though The Law Society had told the Gazette as late as April 2000 that there were no aspects of the Forster case which required their intervention.

But just two weeks later, after further revelations by The Gazette, The Law Society finally handed over the Forster case to the Crown Office for possible criminal proceedings.
One former client told the Gazette this week that he felt betrayed by The Law Society and felt that no action would have been taken had The Galloway Gazette not brought extensive publicity to the case.

Positive Spin

Yet despite this, the Law Society last week sought to put a positive spin on its eventual handling of the Forster case after the former solicitor was finally jailed in the High Court.
Its President, Joe Platt insisted that the Society always worked in the best interests of the public.

He said: “This is an example of the Law Society doing its job well and taking every effort to ensure that the public are protected from any rogue solicitor.”

But Gazette Editor Peter Jeal said: “Far from demonstrating that The Law Society has ‘done it’s job well’ the Forster case has only served to highlight the need for an independent complaints authority to be set up.

What is clear from this sorry tale is that The Law Society cannot possibly serve the interests of its members, solicitors, and the interests of the public at the same time."

“On their own admission, they only started to take this case seriously in April 2000 after The Gazette highlighted client concerns which date as far back as 1991.
“We will be calling on the Justice Minister, Cathy Jamieson, to put in place an independent complaints authority to deal with complaints against solicitors.”

Jamieson was as bad as MacAskill.

Anonymous said...

It is to be expected these people will have mental health problems if they are in trouble.

They use any excuse and distort reality because they riff raff.

Anonymous said...

Yes very true Peter.Its the clients who end up paying for the SLCC and their expenses jollies.

Also excellent work getting the expenses claims papers.I'm sure they only handed them over after as much delay as possible.Reading through them its easy to see why they didnt want it published.

Anonymous said...

Working at the SLCC easy number destroying client complaints. Money for nothing but of course they are well paid, for protecting crooked lawyers.

I wonder if Irvine sleeps well at night, no doubt she does.

Anonymous said...

If they are claiming this much for doing nothing I wonder how much the Law Society were claiming for complaints handling.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Peter you've done a wonderful service for the profession as well as clients.Some of my own clients asked how these people were funded so I've printed off some of the expenses claims and put them up in my office to show people what they are paying for.


I think the Law Society and SLCC are ruining client lawyer professional relationships. The scandals where lawyers who should have been prosecuted undermine public trust, and as honest lawyers are caught up in the same boat who do we trust?

Which lawyer can we choose? Which ones do not have criminal records. How many has Douglas Mill and his cronies protected. Law society and SLCC ideology is save the lawyer but the down side of doing this is they are killing the profession. Talk about the bommerang effect.

Anonymous said...

No house of corruption stands forever.

Anonymous said...

Mental problems just because their expenses are revealed?
They should go get themselves checked out by a doctor unless of course there's something to hide among those figures..

Anonymous said...

If the SLCC are as bad as this just think how many snouts are in the trough in the thousands of other quangos out there and all those people with jobs on many quangos at the same time.Its a horrendous thought no wonder we dont have any money and the govt are using the excuse to cut everything

Anonymous said...

This all seems rather elaborate expenses claims for some quango dealing with lawyer complaints.Whats your take on this Peter? Why all the effort yet little achieved by this SLCC?

Anonymous said...

love it.

Anonymous said...

Yes these are figures are shocking now lets expand it a bit and have a look at that other quango The Scottish Legal Aid Board. Top to bottom and add the two together and let us see what the bill for them is. I hate seeing all this hate lawyers stuff you know some of them do a decent job but yes people are right the majority dont

Anonymous said...

I must admit I am surprised at the level of work these people appear to put in by way of their expenses claims yet the end result is no changes to the way complaints are dealt with.

Anonymous said...

"dysfunctional, dishonest and biased", this quote reminds me of the Law Society of Scotland.

Anonymous said...

What an excuse for avoiding publication.I dont trust Irvine one bit after reading those letters nor do I trust any of those mentioned in the expenses documents you managed to obtain.To think this is all going on behind our backs yet you are probably the only one reporting on it means there is a big operation going on to keep it all covered up and you are right about who is paying for all these expenses jollies - its the clients of course.

Anonymous said...

SLCC ‘little more than a duck-out house for law complaints’ as solicitors clients forced to foot huge salaries & expenses for do-little law quango.
We pay for their cover ups. No doubt MacAskill thinks this is justice.

Anonymous said...

Lawyers do not have clients, lawyers have victims.

Anonymous said...

I hate seeing all this hate lawyers stuff you know some of them do a decent job but yes people are right the majority dont.
No Lawyer will help a client who has been the victim of a lawyer, so they do a good job alright protecting each other. They are all the same.

Anonymous said...

I will be asking the SLCC a few questions myself after going through those expenses figures you obtained.How did you get them anyway ? Did they hand them over or did it have to go to the Information Commissioner for an investigation ?

Anonymous said...

Mental health indeed..I know someone who works at the SLCC and they tell me the board are well against anyone who criticises them.

I bet you are probably numero uno on their hate list!

SLCC board are criminals said...

Mental health indeed. I know someone who works at the SLCC and they tell me the board are well against anyone who criticises them.
Yes this is why self regulation has not worked and will never work. Decisions about lawyers conduct are made not on evidence but on prejudice. Here is the evidence.

That is why they have upheld one client complaint since the SLCC (but did not tell the public who the law firm or lawyer is), inception in 2008, dispite 1400 complaints being received. Are my figures correct Peter?

An omnipotent profession cannot be held to account by their own membership. If the converse were true the campaigners would have nothing to campaign about.

Clients get ruined because the board consider lawyers important and clients are simply money. These people will never agree with clients, because self regulation allows them to line their pockets with no redress for the client. A profitable business model.

It is simply a legal form of theft, where criminal conduct is covered up, and the motto is next client please.

The SLCC board are educated riff raff. If they hate us it is because they know they are criminals, and they cannot repudiate that fact. They do not have right on their side. The profession suffer as a result because people are learning lawyers are a law unto themselves.

I do not hear any condemnation of Penman Peter from the SLCC or Law Society. In your shoes these bastards would want blood.

Great blog.