Tuesday, June 07, 2011

The Scheme : Law Society’s new regulation committee pitches old joke of ‘lay membership’ as more ‘slaps on the wrist’ for crooked lawyers expected

Law Society of ScotlandOld Joke returns : Law Society indulges in spin on lay membership as yet another new beginning for regulation.  THE latest attempt by the Law Society of Scotland to deal with the issue of regulation of Scotland’s notoriously corrupt legal services market as yet another regulation committee was revealed yesterday with the announcement of yet more lay members and another regulatory committee to comply with the laughably lax regulatory requirements of the Scottish Government’s Legal Services (Scotland) Act 2010, the half hearted & much interfered with attempt to comply with recommendations by the Office of Fair Trading to open up Scotland’s closed shop solicitor dominated legal services market.

The ‘duties’ of this new regulatory committee, with yet more lay members, those oh-so-honourable lay members who allow the Law Society to justify its continued stranglehold over the regulation & lack of protection of Scots consumers who are duped, fleeced, ripped-off and ruined by their legal representatives on a daily basis, are contained in Section 133 of the Legal Services (Scotland) Act 2010, which reads like a criminal’s recipe for money complaints laundering & regulation dodging.

However, the Law Society's not-so-shiny-or-new regulatory committee has its roots mired in controversy, double dealing & threats against the legislation which created it, all culminating in a significant climb-down by the Scottish Government on its proposals to specify the number of lay members on the Law Society's ruling Council as I reported  here : Scottish Government back down on lay appointments to Law Society Council as lawyers interests threaten to break pro-consumer legal services bill

Fergus EwingEmbarrassing forced retreat by Scottish Government Minister after Law Society threats over council & committee make-up. Fergus Ewing, the Scottish Government’s now former Minister for Communities & Safety appeared at a Law Society ‘road show’ last year to announce to angry solicitors their beloved ‘Council of the Law Society of Scotland’ would remain a lawyer-only club, making the following announcement :"The power of Scottish Ministers to make regulations specifying the proportion of lay members and the criteria for selection was intended as a fall-back, only to be used in the unlikely event that there would be a need to resolve any disagreements regarding the proportion of lay members.”

Mr Ewing continued : "Following representations from the Law Society of Scotland, in which it re-affirmed its commitment to lay appointments, I no longer consider it necessary for Scottish Ministers to have this fall-back power. Therefore, I intend to bring forward an amendment at Stage 2 of the Legal Services (Scotland) Bill to delete section 92(4), (5) and (6) of the Bill."

A solicitor attending the Law Society road show branded Mr Ewing’s appearance & speech as “comical”, saying the Minister appeared at the show like a schoolboy awaiting corporal punishment. A video of Mr Ewing’s speech briefly published by the Law Society was quickly taken down as some indicated it looked too embarrassing for Mr Ewing, who has since been replaced in his role by Roseanna Cunningham.

The Law Society of Scotland issued a Press Release, promoting its latest committee abortion creation as “a significant step for the Society” yet lay members have populate much of the Law Society of Scotland’s committee structure, and as the records show, have simply acted as a rubber stamp for the Society’s wishes & determined effort to undermine any legal reforms which intend to place consumer protection over the vested interests of the legal profession and self regulation.

The Law Society today claimed : “The new committee will work independently from the Society's Council on regulatory matters, with all of the Society's current regulatory sub-committees now reporting to it. “

Cameron Ritchie, president of the Law Society of Scotland, said: "The calibre of those applying to join the regulatory committee was extremely high and we were struck by the range and depth of talent of applicants and the enthusiasm they displayed for the work of the Society.

Mr Ritchie continued : "The appointment of the committee is a significant step for the Society as we move towards new types of legal services businesses becoming a reality. The Society is continuing to develop a regulatory framework for Licensed Legal Services Providers which will be as rigorous as that for solicitors, and the committee will have an important role to play as we move forwards."

The committee members, who include non-solicitors from a wide range of backgrounds including education, the medical sector, surveying and accountancy, will choose a lay convener from amongst the five non-solicitor members. Solicitors Alison Atack, Frank MacAuley, Jane MacEachran and Alistair Morris will be joined by the five new lay members. A further solicitor appointment will also be made. The lay members of the regulatory committee are: chartered surveyor James Allan, head teacher Carole Ford, Professor Kay Hampton, chartered accountant Alan Plumtree and Elaine Tait, chief executive of Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh.

The Law Society of Scotland refused to release any photographs of its latest lay Committee Members, in keeping with it’s tradition of keeping Scots consumers in the dark over who exactly decides on complaints against ‘crooked lawyers’. Clearly however this is wrong. Consumers, clients of solicitors and the public have a right to know exactly who it is who sits on these Law Society of Scotland committees.

These people, along with those who sit on the board of the anti-client Scottish Legal Complaints Commission are making anonymous, unaccountable decisions which affect the lives of anyone using legal services. Those individuals or groups who make these decisions on the quality of legal services which affect the lives of ordinary people and solicitors alike, should be identifiable by a current photograph if their positions are in any way connected with consumer protection or regulation.

As a journalist and a law reform campaigner, I always wonder about the motives & make up of such people who clamour to join an organisation such as the Law Society of Scotland which is already known to have threatened the Scottish Government & Scottish Parliament with legal action if it did not get its way, has interfered with litigants legal aid applications, undermined consumer protection & client rights, personally targeted critics & litigants pursuing ‘crooked lawyers’ through the courts, has whispered in the ears of judges to influence verdicts in civil cases, has regularly provided false information to newspapers, has been linked to & covered up the deaths of its members clients and has within its ranks, officials who have used connections with Police forces to intimidate clients who dared complain against solicitors.

Indeed, what motives & what kind of person would clamour to join such an organisation and such a scheme aimed at ensuring solicitors sleep soundly at night while clients rot in ruin ?

An official with one of Scotland’s consumer organisations said today : “The latest Law Society attempt to control regulation through yet another committee will not change the circumstances of consumers who face historically prejudiced self regulation by the legal profession”.

A client turned campaigner whose bitter experiences with the Law Society became part of the SLCC’s 2009 report on the Master Policy said  : “The committee lay membership at the Law Society of Scotland has proved time and again it is a sham. It does nothing to enhance consumer protection or give clients a fair hearing against solicitors who have the Legal Defence Union standing by their side while the complainant remains unrepresented.”

The backgrounds of those the Law Society of Scotland consider to be “lay people” :

James Allan (East Lothian - Surveyor) - Chartered Surveyor. Honorary Secretary of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors from 2004 to 2010.  Former Chairman of the Institution's Nominations Committee Independent Adjudicator and Mediator in many construction disputes.

Carole Ford (Glasgow - Education) - Head Teacher, Kilmarnock Academy.  Current Council Member for the General Teaching Council Scotland as well as current Convener of Disciplinary Sub-Committee of the Council Scotland.  Former President of Schools Leaders Scotland.  Board member of Learning and Teaching Scotland.

Professor Kay Hampton (Glasgow - Higher Education) - Emeritus Professor in Community and Race Relations at Glasgow Caledonian University. Commissioner to the Scottish Human Rights Commission.  Member of Children's Panel in Glasgow.  Former Commissioner of the Equalities and Human Rights Commission.  Former Chair, Deputy Chair and Commissioner, Scotland and UK for the Commission for Racial Equality.  Former Chair and UK Board Member for the Community Fund, Lottery Fund.

Alan Plumtree (Dunblane - Accountancy) - Chartered Accountant.  Current Partner in the firm of French Duncan LLP.  Former Senior Audit Partner and member of that firm's Management Committee.  Extensive involvement with the Committees of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland including the Practitioner Certification Committee, Regulation and Compliance Board, Professional Standards Liaison Committee and Examination Board.

Elaine Tait (Kinross - Medical) - Chief Executive of Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh (RCPE).  Quality Assurance Partner of the General Medical Council (GMC).  Member of the Royal College's Lay Advisory Committee.  Former Reporter for the Society for the Client Relations Committee as well as a member of the Client Relations Committee as well as a member of a Client Relations Committee.  Also member of the Society's Professional Conduct Committee as well as the Shadow Regulatory Committee.

33 comments:

Anonymous said...

haha @ lay members!
good point about what they are joining although thats probably why they are joining I think! the chance to do it to everyone without so much as a picture!

Anonymous said...

Its the chance to sit down have a lunch and drink with lawyers which has people groping around to get into the Law Society committees.The part about giving clients a fair hearing is not on their minds well not really!

Anonymous said...

More lay members wont make a difference to the Law Society or 'crooked lawyers' but you may be interested in their recruitment method :
http://www.munroconsulting.com/lawsociety

Thank you for your interest in becoming a Lay Member on sub-committees of the Regulatory Committee of the Law Society of Scotland.

The Law Society of Scotland promotes excellence across the solicitor profession through representation, support and regulation of its members. We also help to shape the law for the benefit of both the public and the profession. The Society is an independent body and is funded by its solicitor members.

The Regulatory Committee is a new Committee of the Society which will come into operation on 1 June 2011. This Committee will have a number of sub-committees which will undertake the detailed regulatory work of the Society.

Lay Members make an important contribution to the work of the Society’s Council and committees, bringing knowledge and expertise from a wide-range of backgrounds including charities and institutions, business, and other professional bodies – all of which are representative of the client community. This is a challenging and exciting time for the profession, not least with the passing of the Legal Services (Scotland) Act in 2010 which will allow for the first time non-solicitors to own and operate law firms.

If you have an interest in ensuring a strong, independent, well qualified and regulated legal profession for the benefit of solicitors, their clients and the wider public, I would encourage you to apply.

The information available on this website will, I hope, answer many of the questions you may have about the work of these sub-committees. If however, you have any unanswered queries or would like to find out more about what is involved, please do not hesitate to contact our recruitment partners, Munro Consulting.

Cameron Ritchie

President of Law Society

Anonymous said...

They dont seem to be lay people at all in fact they have jobs or positions all over other committees and organisations.

Anonymous said...

"I always wonder about the motives & make up of such people who clamour to join an organisation such as the Law Society of Scotland which is already known to have threatened the Scottish Government & Scottish Parliament with legal action if it did not get its way, has interfered with litigants legal aid applications, undermined consumer protection & client rights, personally targeted critics & litigants pursuing ‘crooked lawyers’ through the courts, has whispered in the ears of judges to influence verdicts in civil cases, has regularly provided false information to newspapers, has been linked to & covered up the deaths of its members clients and has within its ranks, officials who have used connections with Police forces to intimidate clients who dared complain against solicitors."

Me too.

I think the word you are looking for begins with "s" and ends with "m"

Anonymous said...

Fergus Ewing must have sounded a right plonker having to grovel to the Law Society of all people hahaha it proves the SNP are truly in bed with lawyers when they are grovelling to the Law Society hahahahaha

Fergus the Groveller said...

hahaha I would love to see this video of Fergus Ewing grovelling to the Law Society hahahaha no wonder they dropped it like he dropped his law hahahaha

Anonymous said...

Behold the liars charter! http://www.legislation.gov.uk/asp/2010/16/section/133
The Council must, for the purpose mentioned in subsection (2)(a)arrange under section 3A(1)(a) for their regulatory functions to be exercised on their behalf by a regulatory committee, and (b)ensure that the committee continues so to exercise those functions (in particular, for the discharge of the Council's responsibility as mentioned in section 3A(9)(a)).

(2)The purpose is of ensuring that the Council's regulatory functions are exercised (a)independently of any other person or interest, (b)properly in other respects (in particular, with a view to achieving public confidence).

(3)Accordingly, the Council must not (a)exercise their regulatory functions through any other means, or (b)interfere unduly in the regulatory committee's business.

(4)Subsection (3)(a) is subject to (a)any determination made by the regulatory committee in a particular case that it is necessary, for ensuring that something falling within the Council's regulatory functions is achieved appropriately, that specific action be taken otherwise than through the regulatory committee, and (b)such directions as the regulatory committee gives the Council (acting in any other capacity) in connection with the determination.

The following particular rules apply as respects the regulatory committee (a)the committee's membership may include persons who are not members of the Council, (b)at least 50% of the committee's membership is to comprise lay persons, (c)lay persons, where they are not members of the Council, are appointable to the committee if they would be appointable to the Council as non-solicitor members (see paragraph 3A(3) of Schedule 1), (d)the committee is to appoint one of its lay members as its convener, (e)if the convener is not present at a meeting of the committee, another of its lay members is to chair the meeting.

(1)For the purposes of sections 3B to 3E, the Council's “regulatory functions” are their functions of regulating in respect of any matter the professional practice, conduct and discipline of (a)solicitors (including firms of solicitors) and incorporated practices, (b)other legal practitioners, for example (i)registered European or foreign lawyers, (ii)conveyancing or executry practitioners.

(2)Those functions include (in particular) their functions as to (a)setting standards of qualification, education and training, (b)admission of persons to the profession, (c)keeping the roll and other registers, (d)administering the Guarantee Fund, (e)making regulatory rules under any relevant enactment.

Anonymous said...

LAY MEMBERS THEY USED TO CALL THEM COLLABORATORS IN OCCUPIED EUROPE!!!

Anonymous said...

How many new beginnings for regulation do we have to put up with before someone twigs the whole thing is a set up?

First it was increased lay members years ago then it was the SLCC and now its more lay members and another committee what a lot of bullshit from the lawyers out for their own again as usual!

Anonymous said...

Its all just a big fraud isnt it all this lay membership person stuff just to make us all think there's someone else other than their own looking into it.Do they think we are all stupid or what?
Also I support your point about making them publish pictures of themselves if they are regulating on our behalf good idea!

Peter Cherbi said...

# Anonymous @ 7 June 2011 15:01

Thanks for letting me know ... and its clearly a recruiting exercise to benefit solicitors interests, not those of anyone else.

As Kenny MacAskill said himself, "he who pays the piper calls the tune" ... and the Law Society are definitely calling the tune here ...

# Anonymous @ 7 June 2011 15:19

The definition of "Lay Person" within the Law Society and most regulators or self-regulators is "someone who can be co-opted or easily persuaded to follow policy" ...

# Anonymous @ 7 June 2011 15:35

Yes ... quick to bend to the professions & vested interests ...

# Anonymous @ 7 June 2011 15:55

I agree ... its almost like the pyramid selling of complaints regulation ...

# Anonymous @ 7 June 2011 16:14

Yes, I agree ... the entire complaints process against the legal profession in Scotland is a fraud, and the decisions within it are taken by anonymous people who prefer to remain in secret while they ruin people's lives ...

Anonymous said...

Very good expose of all this rubbish put out by the Law Society.It proves yet again if you want to know about law the last place you should be looking is a tame lawyer friendly newspaper or the telly.

Anonymous said...

last comment I agree with!

Anonymous said...

"The definition of "Lay Person" within the Law Society and most regulators or self-regulators is "someone who can be co-opted or easily persuaded to follow policy"

Absolutely spot on Peter

Anonymous said...

Cameron Ritchie, president of the Law Society of Scotland, said: "The calibre of those applying to join the regulatory committee was extremely high and we were struck by the range and depth of talent of applicants and the enthusiasm they displayed for the work of the Society.

He is kidding no one outside the Law Society.

Mr Ritchie continued : "The appointment of the committee is a significant step for the Society as we move towards new types of legal services businesses becoming a reality. The Society is continuing to develop a regulatory framework for Licensed Legal Services Providers which will be as rigorous as that for solicitors, and the committee will have an important role to play as we move forwards."

So the Law Society of Scotland are also going to regulate non lawyer legal service providers?

Who would be daft enough or corrupt enough to allow this? Its just their way of saying no one gets to provide legal services unless they are a lawyer or pay the Law Society.More closed shop.

Anonymous said...

Saw this in the paper yesterday and its word for word with the Law Society's own press release - just goes to show how many papers are bought up by the LSS either that or some are too LAZY to look into the facts

Anonymous said...

Given Peter Cherbi's excellent expose of crooked complaints regulation I think we should all be suspicious of anyone rushing to join these self regulators like the Law Society.

Also interesting to see their backgrounds in this case which are very far from being "lay".

Anonymous said...

Lawyers and lay members are just as crooked as each other and I have the evidence to prove it after one of their complaints committees threw out my complaint after this lay member said it was my own fault my lawyer overcharged me £7611 for 2 counsels opinions that dont exist and I proved they didnt exist because I wrote to the qc and he said he had never given opinions on my case I only found out it was the lay member who did this when the Law Society accidentally sent me the wrong complaint report and demanded it back they had another look at my complaint because of it and found for the lawyer again saying he had suffered stress from it all yet the bastard never returned my money and the Law Society ended up sending me a letter telling me they made a mistake the money was not taken yet my bank records and a statement from the bank manager said the lawyer took it so lay members are just as crooked as the rest of the crooked lawyers

Anonymous said...

at first I thought you were writing about 'The Scheme' on BBC but I realise you meant it in another way,anyway this lot are probably a lot worse than the cast of 'The Scheme' probably this is 'The Real Scheme or Scam'!

Anonymous said...

the motives & make up of such people who clamour to join an organisation such as the Law Society of Scotland which is already known to have threatened the Scottish Government & Scottish Parliament with legal action if it did not get its way, has interfered with litigants legal aid applications, undermined consumer protection & client rights, personally targeted critics & litigants pursuing ‘crooked lawyers’ through the courts, has whispered in the ears of judges to influence verdicts in civil cases, has regularly provided false information to newspapers, has been linked to & covered up the deaths of its members clients and has within its ranks, officials who have used connections with Police forces to intimidate clients who dared complain against solicitors.

Well its not so difficult to answer this one Peter.

Malcontents or willing accessories to crime might do!

Anonymous said...

Great news as far as I'm concerned.

I look forward to being complained about safe in the knowledge I am off the hook before it ever reaches the committee!

So long sucker clients!

Anonymous said...

LOL @ Grovelling Fergus

Yes he did grovel quite a bit to the lawyers no wonder he was sent off to another job lol

Anonymous said...

ICAS lay members are just as usless as the Law Society ones although you know that already from your experience with that Norman Howitt guy

Anonymous said...

Interesting the many repeats of the Law Society's press release fails to mention the intense committee background of these alleged "lay people" and only you seem to have gone further into the backgrounds.

Something more to hide the Law Society did not want mentioned.

Anonymous said...

just curious do you ever get any threats against you from lawyers or their Law Society?

Peter Cherbi said...

# Anonymous @ 7 June 2011 19:52

Thanks .. and yes, a very good point about those who join regulators and their motives ...

# Anonymous @ 7 June 2011 20:18

If you would like to contact me with details of your case via scottishlawreporters@gmail.com perhaps some publicity to what happened and those involved may assist your predicament ...

# Anonymous @ 7 June 2011 22:09

Yes, lots and the Police have already been made aware of some ...

Anonymous said...

If they selected juries this way it would be called a rigged jury.Pointless going to their Law Society with your complaint so publish it all and organize boycotts of the attorney's business and make them go out of business.

Anonymous said...

Thank god I dont live in Scotland is all I can say about this!

Anonymous said...

These "threats" you have received.Are they solely from the legal profession or others?

Anonymous said...

I noticed the Law Society's media team were heavily promoting Richie to newspapers this week.However there's nothing new in his presidency rather more of the same old same old.

Anonymous said...

Being a lay person seems to be an industry and I'm assuming has a lot of money & power to go with it so you are correct they should all have their pictures up so everyone knows exactly who they are and what decisions they take against people.

Anonymous said...

I've never heard anything as ridiculous as the Police having to report a bent lawyer to the Law Society!