Tuesday, September 06, 2011

English, Scots Law Societies ‘team up’ in legal moves against “Solicitors from Hell” in bid to stop Legal Ombudsman ‘Naming & Shaming’ crooked lawyers

Legal OmbudsmanEngland & Wales’ Legal Ombudsman may be REAL TARGET of lawyers legal action against naming & shaming website. LEGAL ACTION by English solicitors & the Law Society of England & Wales against SOLICITORS FROM HELL, the English based website which names & shames ‘crooked lawyers’ from all over the UK may, according to senior legal figures in Scotland, have an ulterior motive of attempting to ‘scare off’ the English law complaints regulator, the Legal Ombudsman (LeO) from its stated wish to identify solicitors & law firms in complaints decisions & statistics which are expected to be published in the not too distant future by the LeO after it’s plans received the support of consumers & Government in a long running consultation.

solicitors-from-hellLegal action against Solicitors from Hell is being used by Law Society to prevent LeO’s official naming & shaming of crooked lawyers. The claim was made by a senior insider at the Law Society of Scotland, who, according to information provided to Diary of Injustice, are alleged to be secretly supporting legal moves by the Law Society of England & Wales to remove the Solicitors from Hell website from the internet, out of fear the trend to name & shame crooked lawyers MAY SPREAD TO SCOTLAND if consumers in England & Wales establish access to names & identities of solicitors & law firms via the LeO’s plans, which are supported by many consumer groups, the OFT and the UK Government.

Information seen but not in the possession of Diary of Injustice appears to establish multiple bodies representing the legal profession in different parts of the UK including Scotland have discussed and now appear to have agreed to ‘team up’ to use the law “and any other means possible” to censor forms of online criticism of the legal profession & public debate forums started up by aggrieved clients of crooked lawyers who feel or whose experiences show members of the public cannot get a fair hearing of their complaints against the legal profession.

Law Society of ScotlandLaw Society of Scotland is worried naming & shaming of crooked lawyers will damage lawyers businesses & political influence. In one of multiple references to the legal action taking place in the English courts against the “Solicitors from Hell” website, an official at the Law Society of Scotland states his fears that if consumers in England & Wales gain access to the identities of solicitors and the terms of complaints made against them, it will only be a matter of time before consumer organisations call for the same policy to be established in Scotland a duty which would fall to the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission (SLCC). Another official spoke of concerns that if names of poorly performing solicitors were made publicly available in Scotland it would weaken the legal profession's image, influence in public life and damage the profession’s business model.

However, another official at the Law Society of Scotland discounts the fear the SLCC will ever name solicitors who are subject to complaints in Scotland, pointing to multiple Court of Session appeals against the SLCC taken out by solicitors & even the Law Society of Scotland itself which have left the SLCC “timid”. He went onto brand the SLCC as “weak” and “easily controlled”, claiming as long as the current format of regulation of complaints against solicitors exists in Scotland, “there is no danger of naming & shaming taking place in the Scottish legal services market”.

The Scottish Legal Complaints Commission, asked for its input, refused to comment on whether it would ever identify crooked lawyers & law firms in Scotland, however a former insider who left the hapless law complaints quango branded the SLCC “an ongoing train wreck”, saying : ”The SLCC has no credibility as a regulator and is not worthy of any public trust.”

Today, a Scottish solicitor branded the Law Society of England & Wales legal action against “Solicitors from Hell” as “daft”, claiming “The coverage caused by the English Law Society’s hammer & tongs approach to online consumer criticism of the legal profession will backfire spectacularly”

He went onto say : “At some point the legal profession whether in Scotland or in England is going to have to accept clients of legal services have the same right as anyone else to speak about how good or bad their solicitor did the work and how much it cost. The same kind of information is available online for just about every other sector of business and even public services. For solicitors to use the courts to suppress this kind of information looks more like censorship and will do nothing to bring back business to law firms.”

SLCC MacAskillEasily led : SLCC tamed, Scottish Govt will apparently block any moves to name & shame crooked lawyers in Scotland. In further references to the debate on the possibility of naming & shaming crooked lawyers in Scotland, another insider at the Law Society of Scotland claimed the Scottish Government had already indicated it would not give the SLCC any new powers to identify solicitors & law firms in complaints investigations, citing all information gathered by the SLCC in the course of its duties was considered to be confidential under the Legal Profession & Legal Aid (Scotland) Act 2007. The Law Society insider appeared to indicate he had been given guarantees from the Scottish Government no amendments to the LPLA Act would be implemented unless the Law Society of Scotland specifically agreed to their terms.

The Scottish Government did not reply to enquiries.

During discussions in Scotland of the Law Society of England & Wales case against Solicitors from hell, one Law Society official revealed he had been informed elements of the legal profession in England & Wales had sought Counsel’s opinion “as a standby” on possible legal action against the Legal Ombudsman in a bid to prevent the LeO going ahead with its plans to identify solicitors & law firms who are subject of complaints investigations or determinations made by the LeO.

A legal insider confirmed the discussions, claiming both the Law Societies of Scotland, and England & Wales were hoping any successful legal action against the Solicitors From Hell website would scare off the Legal Ombudsman from publishing names of solicitors & law firms connected to complaints.

The possibility of an ECHR challenge by English solicitors against the LeO over naming & shaming, follows a similar ECHR legal threat against the LPLA Act (Scotland) 2007, issued by one time Law Society of Scotland Chief Executive Douglas Mill who gained a legal opinion from LibDem Peer Lord Lester of Herne Hill QC in 2006 it was against the human rights of a lawyer to have anyone other than a lawyer regulate complaints against lawyers.

Douglas Mill 4You Tub’bed : Douglas Mill, former Chief Executive Law Society of Scotland. Mill’s legal challenge against the LPLA Bill & the Labour/LibDem Scottish Executive & Scottish Parliament was widely reported in the media but did not proceed to court. However, certain changes were made to the LPLA Bill as it passed Holyrood vote in December 2006, which weakened it’s impact on regulation of the legal profession in Scotland. In January 2008, Douglas Mill was forced to announce his registration from the Law Society of Scotland after video footage of a confrontation with the now Cabinet Secretary for Finance, John Swinney over claims Mill & others had interfered in claims to the Master Policy, was posted to video sharing website You Tube in late December 2007.

In stark comparison to the lack of debate of naming & shaming ‘crooked lawyers’ in Scots consumer circles and the refusals from the Scottish Government & SLCC to publish detailed complaints statistics & investigations identifying crooked lawyers & law firms in Scotland, the plans by the Legal Ombudsman to identify solicitors & law firms in complaints determinations have gained significant support of many consumer organisations and even the Government, as I reported in an earlier article, here : Legal Ombudsman moving to name & shame crooked lawyers in England & Wales, crooked Scottish solicitors records to remain protected by secrecy for now

Which logoConsumer group Which? were asked for their comments on the LeO’s plans to identify crooked lawyers in England & Wales. A spokesperson for Which? said : “Which? strongly supports the principle of the LeO publishing complaints data under a strict and published policy , including in some circumstances the name of the law firm concerned. We set out our position in our response to the LeO consultation (page 51: opening up regulatory data)) pointing out that it is the expectation of Government that complaints handling bodies are as transparent as possible.”

Asked for their comment on allegations the legal action against Solicitors from Hell was part of a plan by the Law Society of England & Wales to prevent the Legal Ombudsman from naming & shaming ‘crooked lawyers’, the Which? spokesperson said : “The action being taken against Solicitors from Hell by the Law Society is partly due, in our view, to the fact that LeO does not yet publish complaints data. We consider it far more sensible that complaints data is published under a clear policy framework by an ombudsman scheme. Given this, we would find it regretful if any legal action were to be brought against the LeO by the legal profession in England & Wales if "naming & shaming" is to be adopted by the LeO as a future policy.”

Legal Services Consumer PanelSpeaking on the LeO’s plans to publish complaints data & the identities of law firms who perform poorly for clients, Elisabeth Davies, Chair of the Legal Services Consumer Panel (LSCP), said : “Research shows that UK consumers are now leaving well over 100 million comments online every year about their experience with businesses across the economy. Lawyers cannot escape this welcome emergence of consumer power, but instead should seek and then use such feedback to improve the service they offer.

She continued : “The courts will decide the fate of the Solicitors From Hell website. However, such websites fill a vacuum that exists because official complaints data about lawyers is not publically available to help consumers identify good quality lawyers. The Panel will continue to push the Legal Ombudsman to name those law firms who regularly provide poor service.”

Asked whether the Legal Services Consumer Panel was concerned the current crop of court cases & action against “Solicitors from Hell” was designed to scare off the Legal Ombudsman from publishing complaints information identifying solicitors & law firms, a spokesperson for the LSCP said : “The Legal Services Act gives the OLC powers to name lawyers so it is difficult to see the grounds for legal action. It is also official Government policy for ombudsman to open up complaint data to consumers, including in legal services - see p34 of this link

The Law Society of England & Wales were asked for their input & comment, however no response was received.

Clearly naming & shaming is good for consumers in England & Wales, and therefore should be just as good for consumers of legal services in Scotland. CONTACT YOUR MSP TODAY to support the introduction of naming & shaming of crooked law firms & solicitors in Scotland so all consumers can be protected from the rogue elements of Scotland’s legal services market.


Anonymous said...

Get them all up in flashing lights at the end of the day the lawyers who have ripped you off tell you to your face that they have done nothing wrong and the law society of Scotland say they cant find anything wrong either so if they all have nothing to hide they should have no problem being named.

No Yes?

Anonymous said...

I wonder how the LSoS feel about you being able to reach right into their private chats?

Hope you're wearing body armour,I hear they are a nasty lot.

Anonymous said...

2 playground bullies get together to stop the teacher telling everyone who they are kind of sums this all up.

I hope both the Scottish and English/Welsh Law Society are scrapped and made proscribed organisations.

Well done for exposing this one!

Anonymous said...

“Research shows that UK consumers are now leaving well over 100 million comments online every year about their experience with businesses across the economy. Lawyers cannot escape this welcome emergence of consumer power, but instead should seek and then use such feedback to improve the service they offer.


Anonymous said...

I think the SNP should wake up to the fact the Law Society of Scotland is in it for itself not for Scotland.


Anonymous said...

against a lawyers human rights for complaints to be looked at by anyone else than a lawyer!
pull the other one Douglas!

Anonymous said...

The Law Society of Scotland should keep out of matters which does not concern it.

Spenser said...

I believe the reason for the action against SFH is far simpler:

Many of those listing rouge solicitors have already been through the complaints mill... and one by one, been dismissed by the LCS/SRA - a single complainant is nobody.

The DANGER for the LS posed by SFH is that the SAME firms and individuals are often listed again and again. Most criminals have a Modus Operandi - they repeat what was successful and lucritive. If a few complainants get together and compare notes they can build a picture which could lead to conviction.

On the whole, the LS is not keen on seeing solicitors convicted (though of course it does happen). However, should it be revealed that the OSS/CCS/LCS/SRA recieved complaints (sometimes over YEARS) and took no action...

... blow the lid even once... and what happens to the Respectable Law Society?

It is the PEOPLE who were personally involved - the VICTIMS - who will put in the effort and spot the patterns - not a computer or an official.

Sure... if the LSO does Namd and Shame it could cause a problem... But there are already ENOUGH relevant names on SFH to worry the Law Society. It is why they don't JUST want SFH shut down - they want all the DATA destroyed too.

I accept that not everyone will share the view that the Law Society is corrupt, and has been for years - but it's mine.

All the Best... Spenser

Anonymous said...

So what we have here is the Law Societies chasing Solicitors from Hell in the courts for something the Legal Ombudsman is going to do anyway.

Just shows how easily it is for the legal mafia to use and twist the law against ordinary people who question the system.

Anonymous said...

Yes I can just imagine Philip Yelland & Douglas Mill will be sweating all their carefully managed complaints meddling will come to an end when we finally get to know all these crooked lawyers in Scotland SO WE CAN STEER CLEAR OF THEM


Anonymous said...

Nice one Peter.
Good to see this making the headings in Scotland too!

Anonymous said...

If I were the owner of SfH I'd be very happy at hearing both Law Societys are falling over themselves to put me out of business because they fear what it will do to the legal profession.
For one thing because it means I would have been right about them all along!

Anonymous said...

Good idea Peter I'll email MacAskill who happens to be my msp and demand naming & shaming come to Scotland!

Anonymous said...

Point taken, but I am not convinced what happens South of the Border necessairly ends up applying here - just look at the Law Societ of England Wales decision to voluntarily respond to enquiries as if it was FOI compliant.

That said, anything that protects freedom of sppech is worth defending. The Solicitors for Hell website has a petition running, I signed it and would urge all readers to do likewise.

Anonymous said...

After reading some of your own experiences Scotland certainly needs these crooked lawyers named & shamed asap

Anonymous said...

No wonder the Law Society of Scotland decided to join up,they wont want the same website naming all their crooked Andrew Penmans etc!

How about John O'Donnell and all his pals - they should be up on the web in warning lights!

Anonymous said...

Could be..
Its clear the legal profession dont want anyone writing about how they get on at their solicitors unless of course the legal profession can control what is being written.
The LeO will have to make a decision on it one way or another.If they go ahead its a victory for consumers etc however if they back down and delay again it looks like the lawyer lobby has won and no doubt you and everyone else in the media will be all over it.

Anonymous said...

I hope their pictures will be up along with their names and what they did just in case these crooked lawyers say its not them or its another lawyer with the same name.

Anonymous said...

If I get rubbish service in my local supermarket I can tell anyone I like and even report it to Which? who will probably follow it up.
So what is so wrong with doing the same with all these crappy lawyers who are just there to make a fast buck for themselves under the guise of delivering justice to the masses.

Grow up Law Society or better still be banned from the internet yourselves.

Anonymous said...

Oh well now you've written about it their secret is out.
Hope the LeO is enough of a lion not to be threatened by two Law Societys we'd all be better off without!

Anonymous said...

No need to wonder why MacAskill refuses to allow naming & shaming in Scotland if you all read Peter's expose of all the hospitality (bribes) floating round law firms and the Scottish Government its evidence enough this vile lot are in bed together at the expense of the rest of Scotland

Anonymous said...

"England & Wales’ Legal Ombudsman may be REAL TARGET of lawyers legal action against naming & shaming website."

Glaringly obvious I'd say and its a wonder no one picked up on it before now (or were they afraid to point it out I wonder?)

Anonymous said...

Now we appear to have "Law Societies From Hell"

Anonymous said...

Very good Peter

The Which? spokesperson said "“The action being taken against Solicitors from Hell by the Law Society is partly due, in our view, to the fact that LeO does not yet publish complaints data."

This is a very important comment from Which?,gets right to the facts.The Legal Ombudsman should now act without further delay and begin naming & shaming as soon as possible.

Well done for bringing this to our attention in Scotland.

Anonymous said...

the way I was treated by 4 lawyers one after the other failing to t ake my case into court they should all be named how do I go about this?

NMD said...

Well done , sadly as with The Hollie Grieg Case Lockerbie andthe 100 d notice on Dunblane you will get nowhere, the Scottish legal system is corrupt to the core , thats how its own investigator gets chibbed at his own door and neary a word said and no one caught

Anonymous said...

This shows the SLCC for what they really are,another apologist for the legal profession who refuse even to debate naming & shaming with clients

Anonymous said...

Lord Lester of Herne Hill's view of how complaints are dealt with is an insult to us all as is Douglas Mill's threat to block the Scottish Parliament's law making powers.

Anonymous said...

They want to stop sites like these spreading to Scotland? What about Scotland Against Crooked Lawyers? That's been going for years!!

I think the SFH site is being taken down because of the huge amount of libellous material on there. Until there's a ruling on various complaints, they simply can't print some of the material on there. Or put the word "allegedly" on the front of everything