Monday, August 08, 2011

Victorian by name, Victorian by expenditure : £200K judges & high expenses claims have not yet delivered wider or faster access to justice for Scots

Judiciary of Scotland website coverThe Judiciary of Scotland : Latest look at expenses claims by Scottish judges reveals high price of justice for Scots. IN SEPTEMBER 2009, Scotland’s Lord Justice Clerk, Lord Gill, issued his Civil Courts Review, the damming report on Scotland’s Civil Justice system, which Lord Gill had earlier in 2009 described as “Victorian” and unfit for purpose. He went onto claim the courts system was failing the litigant & society and its costs put justice out of reach of many. How true. However, while solicitors & advocates fees have long been thought of as two of the major obstacles to getting into court, the exact nature of the costs of running our courts system in terms of accountability and who was claiming what, took another year to be published.

Diary of Injustice covers Judges expenses claimsDiary of Injustice reveals Scotland’s Court of Session judges & Sheriffs claimed £535K expenses on top of huge salaries.Later in 2010, Diary of Injustice made enquiries through Freedom of Information legislation for figures on the expenses claims of members of Scotland’s judiciary, from sheriffs to the judges in the Court of Session. Unusually, no such figures relating to expenses claims of the judiciary were available in Scotland, yet judicial office holders expenses claims in England & Wales had been published for some time, actually, a number of years. The figures sought under FOI legislation for Scotland were gradually revealed by the Scottish Government & Scottish Court Service, in a series of articles beginning with my initial report : The costs of Scotland's 'Victorian' Justice System : Court of Session judges paid £6.1 million as litigants struggle to obtain hearing dates.

It is now one year on since the Scottish judiciary began publishing their expenses claims, as all public servants and those paid by the taxpayer should be obliged to, yet one may rightly ask, has the transparency had any effect on the delivery of wider & faster access to justice for court users ? It is therefore now time to take a look at how well our judges have been doing at taxpayers expense, in comparison to any improvements on the speed of our courts to deliver justice.

Clearly, the judiciary of Scotland are well salaried, and well taken care of. Never have judges been so well paid in Scotland yet never have the courts been so clogged with cases, both criminal & civil. If reports from court users & litigants across Scotland are to be believed, there are as yet, no noticeable improvements in the delivery of wider access to justice for all Scots and particularly those who are now choosing to represent themselves as party litigants in Scotland’s creaking antiquated courts system.

FOR those many Scots who struggle to gain access to justice or get anywhere near one of Scotland’s courts to pursue litigation, either using legal representation or as a party litigant, or for the growing numbers of names being added to the Law Society of Scotland’s blacklist of people denied legal representation of any form in Scotland, the latest peek into expenses claims by members of Scotland’s judiciary reveals the courts are well funded but in many cases, still not open to those who need them or those who deserve justice.

Take a look at Scotland’s judiciary's expenses here : Judiciary of Scotland : Judicial Expenses

Senators of the Court of Session

Senators of the Court of Session, who are paid between £172,753.00 per annum excluding expenses up to £214,165.00 per annum excluding expenses are required to go on circuit from time to time, meaning that they sit in various courts throughout Scotland. Depending on the distance from Edinburgh (location of Senators’ base court) they may reside in accommodation near the court or travel daily.

2011-12 Quarter 1 - 1st April 2011 to 30th June 2011 Download (Total claimed £18,600.78)

2010-11 Quarter 4  - 1st January 2011 to 31 March 2011 Download (Total claimed £24,312.93)

2010-11 Quarter 3  - 1st October to 31st December 2010 Download (Total claimed £15,957.45)

2010-11 Quarters 1 & 2 - 1st April 2010 to 30th September 2010 Download (Total claimed £15,945.99)

Sheriffs Principal and Sheriffs

The role of a Sheriff Principal involves visiting the various courts in their Sheriffdom as part of managing the business of the Sheriffdom, hearing appeals and conducting Fatal Accident Enquiries.

A number of sheriffs are classed as “All-Scotland Floating Sheriffs”, meaning that they are able to sit in any court in Scotland. Although most floating sheriffs will primarily sit within the Sheriffdom in which their base court is located they may be required to travel some distances and stay overnight in the course of their duties. This applies notably to the sheriffs based in the Sheriffdom of Grampian, Highlands and Islands, which contains several remote courts.

As of 2011 the salary of a sheriff principal is £138,548 per annum not including expenses and the salary of a sheriff is £128,296 per annum not including expenses.

2011-12 Quarter 1 - 1st April 2011 to 30th June 2011 Download (Total claimed £59,234.28)

2010-11 Quarter 4 - 1st January 2011 to 31 March 2011 Download (Total claimed £43,847.19)

2010-11 Quarter 3 - 1st October to 31st December 2010 Download (Total claimed £35,004.81)

2010-11 Quarters 1 and 2 - 1st April 2010 to 30th September 2010 Download  (Total claimed £63,141.70)

Part-time judicial office holders

Part-time sheriffs sit when required to assist with heavy workloads and provide cover for permanent sheriffs who are absent. They may sit in any court in Scotland and consequently the very nature of the role can involve a considerable amount of travel. Temporary judges and re-employed retired judicial office holders may also be required to travel in the manner of their permanent counterparts. Re-employed retired sheriffs may hold a similar role to that of a floating or part-time sheriff.

Scottish Government appointments notices regularly quote the full salary of a sheriff (£128,296 per annum excluding expenses) for part-time Sheriff appointments.

2011-12 Quarter 1 - 1st April 2011 to 30th June 2011 Download  (Total claimed £54,702.73)

2010-11 Quarter 4 - 1st January 2011 to 31 March 2011 Download (Total claimed £47,114.16)

2010-11 Quarter 3 - 1st October to 31st December 2010 Download (Total claimed £70,031.97)

2010-11 Quarters 1 and 2 - 1st April 2010 to 30th September 2010 Download  (Total claimed £126,399.69)

28 comments:

Anonymous said...

No need to wonder where all the money is going then!

Anonymous said...

By the looks of what this lot are claiming it would be cheaper to set up a huge court somewhere in Scotland and send all the cases to it instead of having sheriffs running all over the place at our expense and getting very little done!

Anonymous said...

Absolutely disgusting beyond belief. A friend of mine is a victim of the corruption within the court of session where his former legal team ripped him off and the so called supreme court judges helped bury it and expected a person with an illness to except being tucked up and go away happy. How would they like that done to them. No that would never F------ do?

Anonymous said...

I recall it was in large part your campaigning which resulted in the Judiciary suddenly producing information about expenses - well done Peter, and thank goodness for the FOI Act.

Unfortunately it appears the Judiciary - and the Scottish Parliament - are slow learners.

Hopefully the 'lamestream' press will eventually tuen on their masters, meantime Peter keep up the good work, we are all in your debt!

Anonymous said...

How the hell did a judge's wage get to this level and 0000's of expenses on top of it???
Its as bad as the MPs they are effectively getting a sub on their wages with their travel etc and its way out of control.TIME TO CLEAN UP THE COURTS AND MAKE THEM SERVE THE COUNTRY INSTEAD OF THEMSELVES!

Peter Cherbi said...

# Anonymous @ 8 August 2011 18:38

A good idea !

# Anonymous @ 8 August 2011 19:19

Send your case details to scottishlawreporters@gmail.com and I'll see about some headlines ...

# Anonymous @ 8 August 2011 19:42

Thanks .. its a collective effort of course ..

One snippet of information passed along to Diary of Injustice during the initial stages of enquiries into expenses of the judiciary was that the Sheriffs were not particularly happy their claims were to be published ... even talk of non-cooperation emerged .. however it appears the Scottish Court Service & Scottish Government pressed ahead with publication, if only after a certain amount of prodding & FOI'ing ...

# Anonymous @ 8 August 2011 19:57

Honestly ... I think salaries of the judiciary reached these levels simply because no one was looking while the legal system ensured politicians supported the kind of unaccountable salary & expenses regime it wanted ...

The judiciary are good enough at promoting their own arguments they must remain independent from the Government (something I agree with) however freebies, hospitality, and having a range of jobs & duties as well as being a highly paid judge is not in my books, compatible with serving the justice needs of Scotland ...

Anonymous said...

Yes Peter well done on exposing the judges at the expenses troff just like everyone else.Its no surprise to me but it is a surprise to see the figures and then these wigs come out and criticise the rest of us.Now I wonder why the rest of the media never ever thought to ask the question before because FOI has only been on the bloody go since 2002!

Anonymous said...

I applaud your campaigning spirit Peter but you will have to be very careful what you do because these judges will not like all this exposure and I am sure they are as vengeful as the crooked lawyers you dutifully report on.

Take care and keep up the good work!

Anonymous said...

The idea about having 1 court in Scotland would be great and also save a lot of legal aid from those robbing lawyers who pretend to be out visiting their clients all the time.

Good one as always Peter its much better having these expenses figures up front instead of being tucked away in a dark corner of the judges own website!

Anonymous said...

Had a read through those.They dont like giving full totals much do they?
Frightened of the big numbers I suppose,which I see you have provided us with!

Anonymous said...

Hi Peter
Isnt it marvelous it takes a blogger journalist to change the way Scottish judges operate on our money?
I think your campaigns are excellent!Keep up the good work!

Anonymous said...

There is a sheriff on that list who has been flown in especially to many pre trial hearings on a case no one wants to progress.See if you can guess which one and why is this allowed to continue?

Anonymous said...

This is a lot of money going through as expenses for judges so why no extra newspaper coverage?
The courts have to be brought into line just like everyone else on public money!

Anonymous said...

Criminals at the top I would say.

TRUST NO LAWYER said...

A friend of mine was in Hamilton and was asked if they needed legal services, she asked the person if they had heard about your blog Peter, they said no but their body language said yes. She told him she would never trust any lawyer much, a wise principle for all members of the public.

Clearly the legal establishment are desperate for business. Keep up the good work, we trust your reporting Peter which tells things as they are.

Anonymous said...

The justice system is as much about controversial expenses and salaries as politics and the rest of public services.Make no mistake about it the people within it are above the law and continue to treat the rest of us with disdain,even hostility.

THOSE AT THE TOP SEE LIFE FROM THE TOP said...

They should try paying for food and utilities on £65.00 per week. These people live in a different world from us. Like so many others I lost my job. This legal system is an anachronism serving it's practitioners not the public.

All of the buggers at the top are protected when they should be under the greatest scrutiny. Just like MP's expenses they wanted it all hush hush, good work Peter.

Anonymous said...

I applaud your campaigning spirit Peter but you will have to be very careful what you do because these judges will not like all this exposure and I am sure they are as vengeful as the crooked lawyers you dutifully report on.

CORRECT THEY WERE ALL LAW STUDENTS AND THEN LAWYERS BEFORE THEY REACHED THE TOP OF A ROTTEN SYSTEM.

Anonymous said...

HERE IS WHAT SCOTTISH LAWYERS CAN DO BECAUSE THEY SELF POLICE.

The Lawyer Hunter said...

Imagine you needed a heart operation and you were just about to ‘go under the knife’ when you found out the surgeon had killed every single former patient in the same operation you were to undergo. Would you still proceed or would you ask for another surgeon ?

Chances are you would ask for another surgeon if you were told such a thing .. and thankfully in the medical world, there are plenty capable & qualified people who are not all a bunch of killers as some may put it so you might be in with a chance of finding the surgeon to your liking.

However, what happens if you come to sell your house and the lawyer you are using makes a complete mess of the deal to the point you only get half the value or less of your property (YOU GET THE DOUGLAS MILL TREATMENT WHERE HE MEETS HIS COLLEAGUES TO KILL OFF YOUR COMPENSATION, OLD DOUGGIE MILL WHO RESIGNED FROM THE LAW SOCIETY FOR PROTECTING CROOKED LAWYERS).. or even worse, you find out the lawyer himself or one of his business partners bought your house on the cheap through a fiddled deal ? What would you do if that happened ? Would you try to find another lawyer to sort out the lawyer who ruined you (IMPOSSIBLE NO LAWYER RUINS A LAWYER FOR A CLIENT) … or even try to take legal action against your former lawyer for fiddling your legal & financial affairs ?

Chances are you wont get another lawyer to do any of that .. because in the legal world, hardly any lawyer likes to ‘sort out’ another lawyer .. it just isn’t on chaps, not only because lawyers don’t usually sue other lawyers, but also because the Law Society of Scotland basically forbids such cases going to court in most instances or it might just have to start paying out huge sums of money from the profession’s Master Insurance Policy for professional negligence which you can read more about here : How to sue a lawyer in Scotland and get nowhere. SO WE HAVE LEGALIZED THEFT.

So the lesson is .. TELL EVERYONE YOU KNOW THAT IF ALL OF YOUR LIFE SAVINGS, HOUSE, CAR, ARE TAKEN BY ANY LAWYER, YOU ARE IN A LEGAL CHECK MATE, BUT THIS GAME OF CHESS RUINS YOU THE CLIENT FOR LIFE. IT IS NO GAME, IT IS VERY SERIOUS.

REMEMBER SHERIFF BRIAN LOCKHART WHO WANTED TO USE THE HUMAN RIGHTS ACT TO STOP YOU THE PUBLIC FROM FINDING OUT ABOUT SCOTLAND'S SHERIFFS. THOSE IN POSITIONS OF POWER USE THEY POWER TO COVER THEIR BACKS AND ABUSE THE SAME POWER TO STOP YOU GETTING JUSTICE AGAINST THE JUDICIARY. I CALL THAT ROUGH JUSTICE. TRUST NO LAWYER.

HOW THESE DEMONS THINK THIS IS RIGHT IS BEYOND ME.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

By the looks of what this lot are claiming it would be cheaper to set up a huge court somewhere in Scotland and send all the cases to it instead of having sheriffs running all over the place at our expense and getting very little done!

They do not need to do much and while you have a good idea Judges are not on performance related pay, those at the top get special treatment. Oh they will chop public services (and legal aid) but these bastards cannot be voted out of office they have a job for life. They are above the law because self regulation makes it so.

Anonymous said...

My math may be a bit off anyway with the figures you quote and what we probably dont know about it looks like £1/2 million a quarter to run the judges and sheriffs expenses claims on top of their wages yet most cases in Scottish courts seem to be pissing up against the wind wouldn't you say?
I mean none of these judges really want to rule against their brethren or companies where they probably already have little advisory sidelines or expect to get a job with once they retire,right?

Anonymous said...

Nice to see the judges awarding themselves plenty expenses and getting away with it.Who regulates this?The judges as usual?
In other news I hope you are also manning the border posts to keep those infernal southern looters out of our great little nation!

Anonymous said...

# Anonymous @ 8 August 2011 18:38

A good idea !


So you'd rather ship thousands of criminals all over scotland as opposed to a handful of judges/sheriffs? You can be in charge of the logistics of that one!! Let's see whose costs spiral then.

Anonymous said...

Another fine Scottish law student..makes you wonder about the criminality of those already practising and some who end up on the bench!

http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/scottish-news/2011/08/11/anti-booze-campaigning-law-graduate-jailed-after-being-caught-drink-driving-again-86908-23336627/


Anti-booze campaigning law graduate jailed after being caught drink driving.. again

Aug 11 2011 By Gordon Currie

AN ANTI--BOOZE campaigner was jailed yesterday for his third drink-driving conviction.

Law graduate Ronald Rose was nearly four times the legal limit when he was stopped by cops. He will now spend his first five months as a lawyer in prison and will be unable to start a postgraduate degree in legal studies.

Yesterday, Perth sheriff Michael Fletcher also imposed a five-year driving ban and told him the latest reading was so high, he posed a danger to the public.

Rose, 44, who until recently lived in Aberfeldy, Perthshire, led a campaign against yob culture in the town and stood as an independent candidate for Perth and Kinross Council.

He also lodged a petition with the Scottish government, calling for a fast-track system to allow police and local authorities to enforce alcohol exclusion zones.

Rose, who formerly served with the RAF including tours of duty in Northern Ireland, claimed Aberfeldy had become "notorious" for boozy, loutish behaviour.

But his lawyer Steve Kelly said Rose, of Bridgend, Braco, Perthshire, was tackling his own alcohol problem. He said: "Everything he is seeking to achieve with the rest of his life will come to a sudden halt if he does not address these matters."

Mr Kelly added: "He has two prior analogous offences from 10 years and 14 years ago. He expresses his regret and remorse.

"He is in further education. That position could be lost to him if he is sent to custody."

Stuart Richardson, prosecuting, told how police had received a call about Rose from a worried member of the public and were watching for his Citroen C2 car.

They saw the vehicle leaving the main road to enter a retail park and when they spoke to Rose, it was evident he was heavily under the influence.

Sheriff Fletcher told Rose: "This is a very serious matter. We are faced with the latest case where you were driving while you were three-and-a-half times over the limit.

"It is a level at which you should not have had any doubt that you should not have been driving. I have considered what has been said in the reports and your circumstances when concluding whether I can deal with it by way of a non-custodial sentence.

"In view of the fact it is your third conviction, and it is such a high reading, I have reached the conclusion that I cannot."

Rose admitted driving over the limit between Auchterarder and Blackford on June 22.

The following week, he graduated during a series of ceremonies at Stirling University, which also saw Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson collect an honorary degree.

Anonymous said...

Looks like the justice system is doing a good job of looting the taxpayer like the rest of the leeches and wouldnt you know its a bunch of lawyers who make all these people judges.I'm sure they will get a few favours for their dutiful work in favour of their colleagues to lord it over the rest of us.

Anonymous said...

Interesting idea about a huge court for all the thugs however I doubt lawyers would go for it because it would deprive them of milking the legal aid for £500 a time and all those nothing doing visits with their criminal clients and travel expenses just to extract a little more out of the system.
Look at the fuss the Glasgow lawyers made over losing £500 appearance fees at the stip courts (they said £390 wasnt enough).If there was a single court or maybe 2 or 3 the lawyers would see that as another attack on their earnings potential (and I'm sure they would plead they were more concerned with human rights and all that representation crap but we know it is all about money anyway) so it probably wouldnt work but they are talking about a single Police force for Scotland so I dont see why we shouldnt reduce all these courts all over the place after all its a wee country and if we had less courts these £130,000 a year sheriffs might have to do a bit more work in stead of floating round Scotland on the expenses magic carpet at our expense along with all the Police who have to take time off their proper duties to hang around courts everywhere at even more expense.

Gideon said...

Hmm interesting
There is also a sheriff on that list who has an interest in a company which recently appeared in the Court of Session.
I wonder if he declared it..

Anonymous said...

With reference to the lady who was stopped in the street by two lawyers touting for busines in Hamilton. The same thing was going on in Dundee where my mother and father were stopped and the very same thing happened have you heard of Diary of injustice in scotland and just like the lady said no was the answer but the body language said yes. Absolutely brilliant keep up the good work.