Complaints about Scottish solicitors generally do not receive a fair hearing. IF you have raised a complaint about your solicitor with the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission (SLCC) and like many other clients, ended up with a ‘no result’ after many months of raised hopes, you may wonder what happened to your complaint, yes, you know, the one the SLCC promised to keep you informed about but never did, and certainly never informed you when the solicitor you complained about asked an organisation such as the Legal Defence Union to intervene on their behalf and smear your good name to ensure your solicitor was let off the hook.
Even worse, you may be part of the growing number of consumers the SLCC shunt into an arranged mediation, which might not achieve any recompense for your financial loss or worse still, allow a rogue lawyer facing multiple complaints you know nothing about, continue working in what appears to be a growing trend in these ‘mediation’ schemes, designed to talk down complaints or controversial cases over a few months, while ensuring the solicitor gets away with it and continues with a clean record, even though their actions have probably ruined your finances, and your changes of ever securing legal representation again in your lifetime.
According to insiders close to the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission, many of you consumers out there who have raised complaints against their solicitors to the SLCC should now check up to verify whether organisations such as the Legal Defence Union or even a lawyer run ‘charity’ called Law Care have intervened in your complaint on the side of your solicitor. Their intervention may well have made the difference in how the SLCC treated your complaint, yet the SLCC never told you about it, not even a hint.
Consumers must remember, while you are complaining to the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission, generally, you are doing this alone, no help, no independent representation for you, no assistance of any form, just a lot of static when you ask questions or raise what you feel to be important evidence or material connected to your solicitors actions on which your complaint is based. You all know the now familiar story.
However, this is not the case for your solicitor. Oh no. Your solicitor has a list of organisations they can call in for immediate support, and often they do, with you, and even your family in their sights.
If you received a no result from your complaint, the chances are that no result was swung by interference from the legal profession itself, which the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission admitted in an investigation carried out by Diary of Injustice last week that you, the consumer are not entitled to know if someone has intervened on your solicitor’s behalf in your complaint.
Anyone who has raised a complaint about a solicitor with the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission since 1st October 2008 should now ask the SLCC to confirm whether the Legal Defence Union, Law Care, or any other organisation connected with the legal profession, such as the Law Society of Scotland or Faculty of Advocates, have made submissions in defence of the solicitor you have complained against. Its your right to know.
Readers who feel their complaint may be affected by this issue should read the Diary of Injustice investigation into the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission's links with the Legal Defence Union, here : Investigation reveals Scottish Legal Complaints Commission's links, secret 'off the record' dealings with lawyers lobby group Legal Defence Union
Consumers making complaints to the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission would also do well to remember the Legal Defence Union is an organisation which represents the best interests of lawyers and was recently linked to blocked criminal prosecutions of legal aid fraudster lawyers & also the suicide of a married Oban family man in the SLCC’s 2009 report into the Master Policy.
You can of course, simply write into the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission to ask them to confirm whether the Legal Defence Union, Law Care, or any other organisation made a submission on your solicitor’s behalf, however the SLCC may not be truthful, because they have already admitted they don't need to tell you.
If you feel you are being deliberately misled by the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission, you can also use Freedom of Information legislation to find out what happened during your complaint and who said what, although again, the SLCC have a very poor record of honesty when it comes to Freedom of Information, on many occasions only being forced to disclose crucial material after rulings from Scotland’s Information Commissioner, Kevin Dunion.
To make a Freedom of Information request to the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission, I would suggest you use the following format :
I would like to make a Freedom of Information request on my own behalf for information contained in documents or discussions relating to : and then add your complaint details, or whatever the issue is you feel the SLCC did not really tell you the full truth about. Its your complaint, its your right to honest legal services, its your right to justice and its most certainly your right to a fair hearing.
To contact the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission :
Scottish Legal Complaints Commission
The Stamp Office
10 - 14 Waterloo Place
EH1 3EG or Phone : 0131 528 5111 Fax: 0131 528 5110 or Email : firstname.lastname@example.org
This guide has been written for the assistance of many readers who have contacted me over the weekend and today, worried about their complaint with the SLCC and this off the record, no-notes-taken underhanded relationship the SLCC appears to have with lobby groups from the legal profession. Unlike Board members at the SLCC, I don't need to claim £300 a day bar tab expenses to write this guide which benefits consumers instead of solicitors.