Monday, May 09, 2011

LEGAL PAID : Clients of legal aid lawyers should come forward with information on fake work claims & scams, say Scottish Legal Aid Board

SLAB_logoScottish Legal Aid Board asks for clients to tell on go-nowhere cases funded by legal aid. IF YOUR LAWYER IS ABUSING OR FALSIFYING CLAIMS FOR LEGAL AID FUNDS, COME TO US say the Scottish Legal Aid Board (SLAB) after clients of legal aid scandal solicitor Niels S Lockhart demanded an investigation by authorities into accusations by Legal Aid Chiefs exposed in a Sunday Mail newspaper investigation the solicitor made “unnecessary & excessive” claims for legal aid, while raking in over £600,000 in legal aid funds paid out of the public purse in over two years.

The announcement from the Scottish Legal Aid Board comes in response to a further article in the Sunday Mail newspaper reporting on the concerns of clients of solicitor Niels Lockhart. One client referred to in the latest Sunday Mail report on the Lockhart-Legal Aid scandal said he had been to Mr Lockhart’s offices on a staggering SEVENTEEN VISITS yet his case had not advanced.

However while SLAB are apparently now keen to speak to Mr Lockhart’s former clients over their concerns, it appears the board are also keen to stress they “saw nothing to indicate fraudulent practices” yet in an amazing contradiction, the board accused Mr Lockhart of making “unnecessary & excessive” claims for legal aid, accusations which in the eyes of many, clearly amount to abuse of public funds.

A spokesperson for the Scottish Legal Aid Board said on Friday : "During the Board's thorough scrutiny of Mr Lockhart's accounts we saw nothing to indicate fraudulent practices as opposed to what appeared to be unnecessary and unreasonable work. In addition, public money was protected because we only paid for work we were satisfied had actually been done and was necessary to advance the clients' cases. Any work thought not to be reasonable was not paid.”

“The issue here was that the work Mr Lockhart did was not consistent with the principle of working with "due regard to economy". For example, having an excessive number of meetings which did not advance a case. Where we thought there were too many meetings or meetings which were of no value, we did not pay Mr Lockhart for those meetings. In coming to these decisions, we had full access to the evidence on the case files.”

Keen to stress public funds had been “protected” from the solicitor who had claimed over £600,000 in legal aid funds in two years, SLAB’s spokesperson continued : “The key issue is that as a result of the work done by the Board in investigating this matter, we protected public funds and Mr Lockhart can no longer do legal aid work. The Board played an important role in trying to bring this matter to an end and achieved the best outcome for the taxpayer as Mr Lockhart can no longer do legal aid work.”

The statement ended, calling for Mr Lockhart’s former clients to contact SLAB with their concerns : “Should any former legal aid clients of NS Lockhart have information which would constitute fraudulent activity they can contact the Board or the Police about their concerns."

If clients of Mr Lockhart or indeed any clients of solicitors across Scotland have concerns about their cases and legal aid funding, I would urge them to approach the Scottish Legal Aid Board immediately, while also copying in their information & concerns to myself via to ensure positive action is taken in relation to legal aid abuses while also enabling the media to report on these matters and alert other clients to the potential dangers of using solicitors & law firms who abuse legal aid.

The latest report from the Sunday Mail :

THE CLAIM BLAME : Clients want probe into lawyer's Legal Aid scam

Apr 10 2011 Exclusive by Lauren Crooks, Sunday Mail

FORMER clients of rogue lawyer Niels Lockhart want police to probe his Legal Aid scam.Lockhart was banned from Legal Aid work after claiming £600,000 of taxpayers' cash in two years.

A Scottish Legal Aid Board report said he routinely made "unnecessary and excessive" claims. But the Law Society of Scotland took four years to act on the report and then cut a secret deal which allowed him to simply agree to stop claiming Legal Aid. Slab ruled there had been no criminality - but admitted they didn't speak to any of his clients.

Andrew Garland, 52, hired Lockhart to represent him in a compensation claim in 2009. The fees were paid by Legal Aid. He said: "I went to his office about 17 times and it was always the same. I was wasting my time because we were getting no further forward.

"Not once has SLAB been in touch - I can't believe it. If it's a case of them not having enough information, I'd be first in line to tell them what he was doing."

Another client, who asked not to be named, fumed: "I can't understand why the police haven't been involved with this. I was being called in and he would just read me a letter or something he could easily have done over the phone. "When I read the Sunday Mail's story, it all suddenly made sense."

Slab said Lockhart's tricks were "not appropriate to a competent and reputable solicitor" - but the 60-year-old continues to run his one-man firm in Kilmarnock.

I reported on the secret deal between the Law Society of Scotland, Scottish Legal Aid Board and the little known Legal Defence Union in an earlier article, reprinted below :

Lawyer pocketed 600K Legal Aid in Two Years Sunday Mail March 27 2011One law for lawyers : Secret Report reveals Legal Aid Board, Law Society & Legal Defence Union ‘cosy relationship’ in Lockhart case

Legal Aid Chiefs accused lawyer Niels Lockhart of excessive claims yet no prosecution or repayment took place. A SECRET REPORT by the Scottish Legal Aid Board (SLAB) into “excessive” claims for legal aid made by Kilmarnock based solicitor Niels S Lockhart who raked in over £600,000 in legal aid claims over two years can now be published, revealing the full extent of SLAB’s accusations against the sole practitioner, the FOUR YEAR WAIT for the Law Society of Scotland to rule on the case and the intervention of the Legal Defence Union who brokered a deal allowing Mr Lockhart to walk away from all accusations over his claims for legal aid.

On 5 June 2005 the Scottish Legal Aid Board sent a report to the Law Society of Scotland in terms of S32 of the Legal Aid (Scotland) Act 1986 against the sole practitioner firm of Niels S Lockhart, 71 King Street, Kilmarnock. The secret report, obtained under Freedom of Information laws, can be downloaded here : SCOTTISH LEGAL AID BOARD S31 COMPLAINT REPORT TO THE LAW SOCIETY OF SCOTLAND : NIELS S LOCKHART (pdf)

The Legal Aid Board’s report outlined a number of issues that had been identified during the review of case files & accounts which raised concern about Mr Lockhart’s conduct and which fell to be considered as a breach of either Regulation 31 (3) (a) & (b), relating to his conduct when acting or selected to act for persons to whom legal aid or advice and assistance is made available, and his professional conduct generally. These issues illustrated the repetitious nature of Mr Lockhart’s failure to charge fees “actually, necessarily and reasonable incurred, due regard being bad to economy”

The heads of complaint submitted by the Scottish Legal Aid Board to the Law Society of Scotland were :

(1) Excessive attendances, (2) Lack of Progress, (3) Splitting/Repeating Subject Matters, (4) Inappropriate Requests for Increases in Authorised Expenditure, (5) Matters resubmitted under a different guise, (6) Standard Attendance Times, (7) Attendances for Matters Not Related to the Subject Matter of the Case, (8) Unreasonable Charges, (9) Double Charging for Correspondence, (10) Account entries not supported by Client Files, (11) Attempt to Circumvent Statutory Payment Procedure for Property Recovered or Preserved, (12) Continued Failure to act with Due Regard to Economy.

The report by the Scottish Legal Aid Board revealed that, of all firms in Scotland, the sole practitioner firm of NS Lockhart, 71 King Street, Kilmarnock, granted the highest number of advice and assistance applications for "interdict" (392) for the period January-October 2004.The next ranked firm granted 146, while the next ranked Kilmarnock firm granted only 30.

The report stated : “While conducting a selective analysis of Niels S Lockhart's Advice and Assistance accounts, it was clear from the outset that much of his business comes from "repeat clients" and/or members of the same household/family, whom he has frequently admitted to Advice and Assistance. The analysis revealed persistent patterns of excessive client attendances, the vast majority of which are irrelevant, unnecessary and conducted without due regard to economy.”

“It was also clear that Niels S Lockhart makes grants for a number of interlinked matters, where there is clearly a "cross-over" of advice. Consecutive grants are also often made as a continuation of the same matter shortly after authorised expenditure has expired on the previous grant.”

“This appears to the Board to be a deliberate scheme by Niels S. Lockhart to make consecutive grants of Advice and Assistance on behalf of the same client for the same matter, for personal gain. By so doing, he has succeeded in obtaining additional funds by utilising new initial levels of authorised expenditure for matters where, had further requests for increases in authorised expenditure under the initial grant been made to the Board, they would with every likelihood have been refused by Board staff.”

“Closer scrutiny of Niels S Lockhart's accounts and some client files has given rise to a number of other serious concerns, e.g. numerous meetings, standard of file notes, encouraging clients to advance matters while demonstrating a lack of progress.”

“After a meeting between SLAB officials & Mr Lockhart on 14 April 2005, Mr Lockhart was advised that SLAB’s Executive Team had approved of his firm’s accounts being removed from the guarantee of 30-day turnaround for payment of accounts, and that henceforth, to allow the Board the opportunity to satisfy itself that all fees and outlays had been properly incurred and charged by the firm, he would be required to submit additional supporting documentation and information with his accounts (including client files).”

The report continued : “Over the next few months, Mr Lockhart telephoned Accounts staff many times, often on a daily basis, repeatedly asking questions about the type of charge they considered acceptable or unacceptable in a variety of situations. Staff reported that, despite their having given Mr Lockhart the same answers time and again (both via correspondence and over the telephone),he continued to submit accounts with unacceptable charges. In a final effort to counter these continuing problems and to emphasis the Board’s stance in relation to the various issues of concern, our Accounts Department sent him a letter on 23 December 2005.”

“Mr Lockhart did not provide a written response to this correspondence. He did however contact Mr McCann of the Legal Defence Union, who wrote to the Board seeking a meeting with Board officials to try to resolve the payments issue. Our view however was that this would not advance matters as Mr Lockhart had been given a clear steer both after the April 2005 meeting and in the December when Accounts wrote to him on a number of matters.”

However, a key error was made by the Legal Aid Board, who stunningly failed to interview any of Mr Lockhart’s clients despite SLAB’s claims of excessive legal aid claims.

The SLAB report revealed : “Board staff have not interviewed any of Mr Lockhart’s clients as we have no reason to believe that, for example, the multitude of meetings that he held with them—sometimes more than twice daily—did not take place; our concern is that they DID take place and he has sought to claim payment for these multitudinous meetings,very few of which could be described as necessary and reasonable. We believe that such work had no regard to the principle of economy: our contention is that it is highly unlikely that any private paying client would be willing to meet the cost of the service provided by Mr Lockhart. That aside, there are cases set out in the report where it is difficult to see what advice or assistance has actually been provided. Our Accounts staff are continuing to assess a number of his accounts and examining the corresponding client files which indicate repetition of the issues that gave rise to our initial concerns.”

Outline of Correspondence SLAB-LSS re NS LockhartSLAB’s report was heavy on accusations yet achieved little, as did their complaint to the Law Society. The Scottish Legal Aid Board presented its report & complaint to the Law Society of Scotland on the 5th June 2006 but had to wait until a stunning FOUR YEARS until August 2010 before the Law Society even got round to sending SLAB a copy of the Law Society investigator’s report, which recommended that 11 out of 12 of SLAB’s complaints were “made out” and also recommended that the Law Society exercise its powers to exclude Niels Lockhart from giving advice & assistance to or from acting for a person to whom legal aid is made available.

However, two months later in October 2010, Mr Lockhart’s legal representative James McCann of the Legal Defence Union approached SLAB with a prospective offer that Mr Lockhart would withdraw fully from providing legal aid if SLAB’s S31 complaint was withdrawn. A Minute of Agreement was drafter and agreed with Niels Lockhart & the Legal Defence Union outlining the voluntary and irrevocable withdrawal by Mr Lockhart and the firm from the provision of all firms of legal assistance (funded by legal aid).

The Minute of Agreement also outlined the Board’s intention to make a press release detailing that following SLAB’s investigation into the firm and their subsequent complaint to the Law Society of Scotland, SLAB had accepted this permanent withdrawal by Mr Lockhart and the firm from providing all forms of legal assistance.

Letter to LSS, 11-10 redactedLegal Aid Board asked Law Society to withdraw complaint after secret deal was reached with Legal Defence Union. “In November 2010 SLAB advised the Law Society of Scotland that they had negotiated with Mr Lockhart his voluntary removal from the provision of legal assistance with effect from 1 November 2010 and acknowledged that the Society had separately received information from Mr Lockhart signalling his intention to withdraw from provision of all types of legal assistance. In the light of this, we sought to know from them whether they accepted SLAB’s withdrawal of the S31 complaint against Mr Lockhart.”

“In December 2010 the Law Society wrote to SLAB advising that they had accepted SLAB’s withdrawal of the complaint and that they were closing their file and taking no further action.”

In the light of revelations by the media that solicitors have been able to quietly withdraw from the legal aid register after secret deals were struck between the Law Society of Scotland, the Scottish Legal Aid Board & the Legal Defence Union over irregularities which collectively, could run in to millions of pounds, the issue is likely to receive calls for a full investigation when the Scottish Parliament, now dominated by msps from the Scottish National Party, reconvenes for its next session.

The issue of abuse of legal aid may well be a test of the Scottish Government’s resolve to ensure legal aid is targeted towards those who actually need it, while also bringing into focus the Scottish Parliament’s ability to scrutinise the massive £150 million pound legal aid budget, where the pressure will be on to investigate why secret deals between elements of the legal profession can see a lawyer escape penalty for misusing funds, while benefits cheats regularly face criminal convictions or even jail for their actions in cheating the public purse.


Anonymous said...

Forget it SLAB I'd rather report them to Peter because when he gets the story something actually gets done about it!

Anonymous said...

I beg to differ Mr Cherbi.
You have already told us the legal aid board did nothing about Lockhart.Why should clients tell them their concerns when nothing will be done and the lawyer will just end up making life more difficult for the client or get them into even more trouble than they already are in?
If anyone is going to be approached they have to be trustworthy so this leaves you and the Sunday Mail definitely not the legal aid board.

Anonymous said...

“Should any former legal aid clients of NS Lockhart have information which would constitute fraudulent activity they can contact the Board or the Police about their concerns."

What a lot of rubbish.Can you imagine trying to explain legal aid fraud to some thick cops?

Anonymous said...

The heads of complaint submitted by the Scottish Legal Aid Board to the Law Society of Scotland were :

(1) Excessive attendances, (2) Lack of Progress, (3) Splitting/Repeating Subject Matters, (4) Inappropriate Requests for Increases in Authorised Expenditure, (5) Matters resubmitted under a different guise, (6) Standard Attendance Times, (7) Attendances for Matters Not Related to the Subject Matter of the Case, (8) Unreasonable Charges, (9) Double Charging for Correspondence, (10) Account entries not supported by Client Files, (11) Attempt to Circumvent Statutory Payment Procedure for Property Recovered or Preserved, (12) Continued Failure to act with Due Regard to Economy.

and none of this amounted to fraud or criminality ??

If this had been a benefit cheat they would have been banged up for a year at least yet lawyers get away with it.NOW THIS IS CRIMINAL.

Anonymous said...

17 visits + case going nowhere ?
Why is there no mention of this in the SLAB report and why does it always take the media to uncover a legal aid scandal when SLAB are paid (again by taxpayers) to do it ?

Anonymous said...

Why bother getting yourself into trouble reporting your own lawyer for stealing when they wont do anything about it?
If you want something done get it in the paper as Peter says and you can see real results!

Q.Is Lockhart still working as a lawyer?

Anonymous said...

I hope you do not mind Peter this comment was left on your report about Mr Wilson.

If this is the treatment party litigants are getting from Scottish courts clearly there is some kind of active prejudice or discrimination going on.

If you can track down enough party litigants who have endured the same maybe they can get together and take their case to Europe.
To the person who left this comment please warn your friends and family. It is too late for many of use to get justice but if we can do a little to help potential victims out there we will and must. I would call it "active hatred" from the courts and legal establishment.

Until I draw my last breath I will warn people I meet to read all the internet sites dedicated to legal reform like Peter's blog. Lawyers in my view are bad bad news but make no mistake if there are any who are honest they are all being tarnished.

You play a legal lottery when you go to a lawyer, and if it goes wrong you will be treated like S**t. If there were legitimate complaints channels that worked Penman would have been ruined, Peter's family compensated and justice served.

When it goes wrong we are all Peter Cherbi's and Mr Wilson's. Please tell everyone you know,

All the best

Anonymous said...

So who at the Scottish legal Aid Board do we report lawyers who steal legal aid to ? This guy ?

Exclusive: Legal aid chief arrested with rent boy in shopping centre toilet

May 3 2009 Derek Alexander, Sunday Mail

A LEGAL Aid boss has been arrested in a public toilet with a rent boy.

Douglas Haggarty, 57, was arrested in a shopping mall after being found with the teenage prostitute.

He is the head of legal services at the Scottish Legal Aid Board (SLAB) - where his duties include lecturing lawyers on their public conduct.

Haggarty was arrested in British Home Stores in the St Enoch Centre, Glasgow.

Security guards alerted police after the known rent boy was seen following Haggarty into the shop's toilets.

Both men were arrested and Haggarty was charged with soliciting in a public place.

The procurator fiscal started summary proceedings against Haggarty.

But his lawyer Paul McBride QC - who sits as a member on the Scottish Legal Aid Board - asked the Crown Office to drop the charges, claiming there was not enough evidence to convict.

The procurator fiscal has decided to scrap court proceedings and deal with the case by a direct measure. These are powers available to prosecutors to deal with cases quickly.

They include issuing a fine, compensation order and written warning about future conduct. The powers available to procurators fiscal were extended last year.

The rent boy also had court proceedings against him dropped and was issued with a direct measure.

Haggarty, who lives in the Merchant City area of Glasgow, started work as a solicitor in 1975.

He helped Lord Bonomy compile his 2002 report on improving the practices and procedure of the High Court.

Haggarty submitted a paper to a Scottish Parliament finance committee on criminal procedure in 2003 and has been a member of other High Court review teams.

The legal aid chief, who declined to comment, has been off work sick since the incident in January.

A slab spokesman said: "The Board is aware of the case and that it has not been prosecuted. It's not appropriate for us to comment further."

Haggarty isn't the first SLAB boss to be arrested and dogged by controversy.

Dr Richard Scott, former head of SLAB, was twice arrested over incidents with his wife.

Arrest In January 1997 he was charged with three assaults but only convicted of breach of the peace and disorderly behaviour.

Six months later Scott was arrested again when police were called to his home but the Crown Office decided not to bring criminal charges.

Scott stood down as head of SLAB in 1999.

Anonymous said...

Its about time you turned your journalistic attentions to this unaccountable quango and exposed it for what it is, a complete waste of taxpayers money.

Anonymous said...

Clearly unfit to manage or be trusted with £150m of our money and all that stuff about giving access to justice is garbage.Its giving access to lawyers to take what they want and get away with it.

Anonymous said...

btw its Douglas Haggerty with an "E" not "A" and there are plenty more at SLAB who visit public toilets with similar motives,its just not fashionable to speak their names until they wind up in the news

another interesting part of the story is what happened at the Police Station maybe you can tell the world about it sometime

Anonymous said...

Will the new msps do anything about this? I wonder because if previous performance of the Scottish Parliament is anything to go by nothing will happen because they are all in each others pockets and dont forget we have lots of new msps just aching to get into their expenses accounts and claim claim claim!

Anonymous said...

I was going to say something else but after seeing that comment about the Legal Aid Chief with the rent boy perhaps the Legal Defence Union have a few files on those at SLAB hence the "no fraud" explanation which sounds stupid considering everything else in their report which you quoted.

Anonymous said...

"One client referred to in the latest Sunday Mail report on the Lockhart-Legal Aid scandal said he had been to Mr Lockhart’s offices on a staggering SEVENTEEN VISITS yet his case had not advanced."

Actually a common occurrence when going to a solicitor in Scotland.It really makes you wonder how many millions in legal aid these bloody robbers are swindling while the Legal Aid Board sit back and wait on the Law Society doing bugger all.

Anonymous said...

If anyone really has problems with their lawyer and legal aid let me advise you to go to a newspaper and not call the Scottish Legal Aid Board because I did and it ended up a nightmare and the lawyer got off while my life was made a misery
If you really want to expose a lawyer ripping off legal tell Peter about it something I wished I did from the start

Anonymous said...

1st comment says it all.Get your story in the papers and get something done!

Anonymous said...

With a choice between a sex act in public toilets or being assaulted it sure sounds like going to the legal aid board is highly dangerous! Hell after reading this I'd think twice about going anywhere near their offices!

Suffice to say I agree with others - its safer and more fulfilling to report legal aid robbers to Peter Cherbi/the press!

Anonymous said...

and what about the Law Society report on Lockhart which they havent released yet ?


Anonymous said...

Really the mind boggles what is going on at SLAB after reading that story from the Record.

How can these people have any credibility at all after stuff like that gets out and this Lockhart business how far does it really go ?

Anonymous said...

SLAB are a bit late asking Lockhart's clients to come forward.Why didn't they interview them at the start of his "unnecessary & excessive" (whatever that means) claims for legal aid ?

Were they afraid what they would find out ? and how the hell is anyone expected to find out what is really going on if they dont speak to the actual people Lockhart is/was representing ?

Anonymous said...

If you type "Douglas Haggarty" into You Tube there is a video some guy made of the toilets at St Enoch's Squarewhere it all happened hahaha Douglas Haggarty's Legal Aid Office!

Anonymous said...

In response to the comment at 16:18 Haggarty was also let off after his QC PAUL MCBRIDE who also works at the Scottish Legal Aid Board got him off the charges with a "direct measure" see here :

Legal Aid chief found in shop toilet with rent boy keeps job

Aug 15 2009 Paul Thornton

A LEGAL Aid boss, who was arrested in a toilet with a rent boy, has kept his job and won't be struck off as a lawyer.

Douglas Haggarty, 58, was found with the teenager by security guards in British Home Stores in the St Enoch Centre, Glasgow, in January.

The head of legal services at the Scottish Legal Aid Board, where his duties include lecturing lawyers on their conduct, was charged with soliciting in a public place.

But his lawyer, Paul McBride, QC, claimed there was not enough evidence and charges were dropped.

The Crown Office said Haggarty had been dealt with by a direct measure but would not say whether it was a warning letter, fine or other penalty.

Now the Law Society of Scotland have revealed he will face no professional sanctions.

The high-flying lawyer, who lives in Glasgow's Merchant City, went off sick from work after the incident but is understood to have been back for several months.

A Law Society spokesman said: "The society's client care committee took account of the fiscal's decision and reasons for it."

A slab spokesman said: "It would be inappropriate for the board to comment on a matter personal to a member of staff."

Charges against the teenager were also dropp

Anonymous said...

sorry clicked on publish too soon.

I was also going to say it looks like everyone gets off the hook if SLAB are asked for comments or asked to investigate so dont worry about any furthr action on Lockhart the case will be well buried and that quip from them about going to the Police well its a joke because the Police are a joke when it comes to arresting bent lawyers

lament said...

Well Mr Cherbi let me tell you this.I know someone who did make a complaint to legal aid about their lawyer and they ended up being threatened by the lawyer concerned who also had a copy of a phone call my friend made to the Legal aid board because all calls to them are recorded.

I hope all your readers take note of what I've said and report complaints to you or newspapers like the Sunday Mail before even bothering to go anywhere near the Legal aid board because the board is as dangerous as your lawyer can be.

Peter Cherbi said...

Thanks for your comments on this article.

As I indicated I am happy to receive details of cases where clients have concerns about their legal aid status or legal aid work undertaken by their solicitors.

Any information along these lines or concerns about legal aid can be sent to me via and I will do my best to ensure publication and exposure in the media of any misuse of legal aid.

# lament @ 9 May 2011 22:38

If you would like to contact me with further details of the case you refer to, I'm sure this person's experiences with SLAB will make a good public interest feature.

Anonymous said...

Well let me just congratulate you on your blog and all these exposures of our crooked legal system.The lawyers will hate you for it but lets face it the system must be crooked otherwise you would not be able to write as you do.
Keep up the good work Peter!

Anonymous said...

If they dont comment on their own boss getting caught in a toilet with some rent boy they cant be expected to comment on lawyers who are clearly fleecing the taxpayer via legal aid payments!

Its all a bit dirty though dont you think ? I know its old fashioned to talk about morals or standards these days but what the hell is going on if the legal aid regulator is acting like this along with its own people ?

Is this what Scottish justice is really all about ?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

Forget it SLAB I'd rather report them to Peter because when he gets the story something actually gets done about it!

100% correct, bypass the structures of the state, only a campaigner will deal with these issues correctly.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

Forget it SLAB I'd rather report them to Peter because when he gets the story something actually gets done about it!

9 May 2011 15:08

+1 !

Anonymous said...

Yes Peter its about time you started investigating legal aid a lot more than you have in the past.They are completely out of control when lawyers get away with stuff like this.

Anonymous said...

I went through 4 refusals for legal aid before I eventually got it and the problem was the lawyer for the other side lying through his teeth to the legal aid board and they believed him you should do a story on this if i can send it to you

Anonymous said...

Whatever you do DO NOT phone the Scottish Legal Aid Board.
They record your telephone calls and pass them onto your lawyer if you tell them anything bad.Tell Peter instead and get it in a newspaper its the only way to expose these LEGAL AID ROBBING LAWYERS

Anonymous said...

Just to let you know Mr Cherbi I've spent 9 months with these legal aid THUGS trying to get funding for my case against a solicitor and all I got was stalling and refusals then my own solicitor dropped me after being told to by the Law Society and I have the letter if you want it

Anonymous said...

yet look at the easy legal aid this guy is getting!

Legal aid shocker as rich Glasgow businessman gets £250K to help fight Proceeds of Crime case

May 11 2011 By Keith McLeod

A BID to use the Proceeds of Crime Act to recover cash allegedly earned through extortion has cost the taxpayer more than £250,000.

Rich Glasgow businessman Russell Stirton has received £251,985.09 in legal aid as he defends himself in a two-year long civil action at the Court of Session in Edinburgh.

Stirton and business associate Alexander Anderson have never faced criminal charges over claims that their wealth was earned illegally.

The Crown used the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 to raise a civil action to force the men to prove s2million worth of assets was earned legally.

Part of the alleged extortion totals £760,000 from one taxi firm in Glasgow.

The case - the longest of its kind to be heard in a Scottish court - resumed yesterday after a two-month break.

It is claimed, but not confirmed, that the men have been able to draw £10,000 in expenses each month from their seized assets.

As the legal process dragged on and the frozen assets were used up, the Crown offered to settle for s1million, reducing that figure in stages to £200,000, and amounting to a total less than four per cent of the sum originally frozen.

It was in January 2004 that Stirton, 37, and Anderson were the subject of a police raid. Their homes, cars, businesses and bank accounts were placed under a restraining order, effectively freezing their assets.

Police believed a service station run by the pair in Springburn, Glasgow, was a money-laundering front but a probe failed to prove this.

The civil case began on May 19, 2009, at the Court of Session and because of its length it has prompted fears that the cost to the public purse will exceed the value of assets frozen.

Income from seized assets for the purpose of living expenses cannot be used to fund legal proceedings.

The Scottish Legal Aid Board have revealed that ex-paratrooper Stirton has received legal aid totalling £251,985.09 since July 2010.

Slab said these payments were "interim" claims from Stirton's legal representatives and that final accounts were still to be submitted. Anderson hasn't received legal aid.

Stirton and Anderson deny allegations that between 1993 and 2005 they received income and acquired assets with funds for which there was no legitimate source.

Peter Cherbi said...

Thanks for all your comments & emails on this article and especially to those who have already sent me details of their legal aid problems.

Could I just say if there are documents you wish to send me concerning problems with the Scottish Legal Aid Board or your solicitor, you can send them to me via . Any information will be treated in confidence unless senders wish the information to be published by saying so.

# Anonymous @ 11 May 2011 17:42

In light of what you say, yes, please send me the letter and any information you feel should be published.

# Anonymous @ 11 May 2011 10:36

Thanks for your comment ...

I can confirm the telephone recording at the Scottish Legal Aid Board to be correct, although there is a message on their phone system warning callers "calls may be recorded for training purposes ...etc"

My advice to callers would be to record their own telephone conversations or even meetings with people from legal system ... that way when there's an issue with what was actually said in the call or at the meeting, you have a verbatim record, rather than having to put up with others believing their rather skewed version of events ...

Anonymous said...

If we were independent, you can kiss goodbye to the Supreme Court in London. If not immediately, certainly when it issues another controversial ruling requiring Justice-Secretary-for-Life Kenny MacAskill to change the law. You might also kiss goodbye to certain parts or maybe all of European Commission Human Rights Legislation (ECHR) which any future independent Scottish Government may begin to find 'inconvenient' to its management, or as we have seen in the past four years, lack of management of Scotland's justice system.
Where are the checks and balances now Peter? SNP committees and an SNP Presiding Officer. The stage is set.

Lawyers are above the law said...

There is no point in complaining to the SLAB. Anything to do with lawyers is corrupt, and self regulation is the reason for the corruption.

Anonymous said...

Slab said Lockhart's tricks were "not appropriate to a competent and reputable solicitor" - but the 60-year-old continues to run his one-man firm in Kilmarnock.
Wake up SLAB, there are no competent and reputable solicitors, they are all competent rogues, thiefs and legally protected criminals.

Only the unwary trust one of these scumbags these days.

Anonymous said...

Even after all this SLAB haven't bothered approaching Lockhart's clients.What does that tell you about the Scottish Legal Aid Board ?

Can you imagine what it would be like if the Police didn't go out and interview witnesses for a murder ?

Anonymous said...

"My advice to callers would be to record their own telephone conversations or even meetings with people from legal system ... that way when there's an issue with what was actually said in the call or at the meeting, you have a verbatim record, rather than having to put up with others believing their rather skewed version of events"

Good advice for whoever you are dealing with these days.Remember Peter if you call up your insurance company they even record it,local council/police/doctor/even supermarkets so just as its good for them to record us we should be recording them too.Only a dumb idiot wouldnt!

Anonymous said...

Hi Mr Cherbi, you contacted a friend of mine briefly in the past when his details were leaked out into the public domain and although he made no comment to you you managed to write partly about his situation where his former lawyer is trying to extort money from him using the local court as a lever. What you dont know Mr Cherbi is that the clerks within the court have been actively trying to make him default by withholding information, misplacing files and telling him not to turn up to court and then using it against him by marking him down as absent on the day. The thing is he has the sheriffs note which uses these findings against him but he also has all the phone calls of the clerks recorded as proof that they have set him up. An appeal hearing has been set for this summer, after which you can have everything.

I take it we can contact you on

Peter Cherbi said...

# Anonymous @ 13 May 2011 19:17

Yes you can contact me via scottishlawreporters.

If there are recordings of court officials interfering in a case and telling someone not to turn up when they should for a hearing I'd say its a story worthy of a few headlines, particularly considering the way people are treated these days all across Scotland's court system ...

On another matter, I have noted the loss of several comments due to the Blogger outage, particularly a piece of advice for consumers who are dealing with the Scottish Legal Aid Board.

The advice to callers would be to record their own telephone conversations or meetings with anyone connected with the legal system in Scotland, be it solicitors, the SLCC, the Law Society, the Courts Service or even the Scottish Legal Aid Board.

Inevitably, when there's an issue, dispute or problem with what was actually said in the call or at the meeting, whether it be your instructions to your solicitor or some point they have twisted in their favour, you, the client, must retain a verbatim record of events as the inevitable record of the solicitor, or whoever was involved will be highly inaccurate and biased in their favour. If you dont, then out of experience myself, I can safely say their version is always believed, until of course, audio or even video recordings surface telling the other side of the story ...

Anonymous said...

Yes good advice Peter about the recording these meetings/calls with lawyers or whoever.Chances are they tape us anyway so I'll be doing the same next time I encounter one of the bastards!

Anonymous said...

be careful kid you are writing about stuff some lawyers will kill to protect especially with all the $$$ legal aid bills

you should be in a newspaper if you ever get the chance take it and bury them on the front page

Anonymous said...

You have raised another issue worthy of investigation.
If recordings of calls to SLAB are being handed over to solicitors who are also the subject of complaints there is something very wrong with that.Almost criminal I feel.

Peter Cherbi said...

# Anonymous @ 14 May 2011 17:40

Remember to spread the advice on recordings around ... it may help others.

# Anonymous @ 16 May 2011 01:05

I can assure you the legal profession in Scotland are as good at issuing personal threats as some gangsters recently referred to in the media ...

# Anonymous @ 16 May 2011 15:59

I'm all for an investigation although the words "investigation" & "independent inquiry" mean very little in the Scottish legal system .. something more of a joke really, normally used to cover up an offence, negligence, or even corruption.

What I can say with regard to one of the recordings I have been informed of (although do not possess) is one of the audio files appears to have been recorded on a device while the conversation was being played back on another device. The file was then allegedly given to a solicitor who is/was facing complaints against his legal aid claims.

I think whoever has access to these recordings in the first place may require investigating themselves ... as clearly all kinds of Data Protection laws have been broken .. probably a few more too ...

Anonymous said...

So someone listening in recorded a convo and passed it onto some bent lawyer who is probably fiddling legal aid and then the board wonder why they dont get any reaction from the Law Society?
SLAB must be riddled with informants no wonder LSoS can take 4 years to investigate and do nothing because they always knew which way it was going to go!

Anonymous said...

Corruption nothing more nothing less

Anonymous said...

No doubt about it you are causing problems mister

Anonymous said...

My lawyer was fiddling legal aid and I tried to report it to the legal aid board and they didnt want to know about it.

What do I do?