Friday, September 02, 2011

HOSPITALITY WINS : Law firms who won £20 Million legal contract wined, dined & lobbied Scottish Government’s Legal Directorate for three years

Scottish GovernmentScottish Government was wined, dined & lobbied by law firms, lawyer regulators, lawyer lobby groups & universities. A HOST OF LAW FIRMS who secretly wined, dined & in some cases lobbied the Scottish Government over the past three years on areas of law & justice where in some cases, the legal profession’s interests are known to conflict with those of consumers, won valuable contracts in the latest recession busting taxpayer funded TWENTY MILLION POUND legal project by the current Scottish Government to rapidly enlarge its already burgeoning 225 plus lawyer strong legal department to include even more Scottish law firms who are to provide legal services outsourced by the Scottish Government's Legal Directorate (SLGD).

The as yet unpublished details now been revealed in a Freedom of Information response by the Scottish Government showing a host of law firms, regulators, lawyer lobby groups & even universities have offered so many dinners to officials from the Justice Directorate, one Government insider jokingly said it should be named the Justice Dining Directorate.

Hospitality Scottish Govt Legal DirectorateHospitality’s in for the Scottish Government’s Legal Directorate, as law firms who wine & dine officials win stake in 4 year £20 Million contract for outsourced legal advice. Some of the declarations of ‘hospitality’ include : 07/04/2008 Lunch Pinsent Masons, 18/04/2008 Lunch Dundas & Wilson, 26/06/2008 Meal Scottish Public Law Group, 29/05/2008 Lunch Dundas & Wilson, 20/08/2008 Meal and Edinburgh Festival Show Shepherd & Wedderburn, (No record held of date) Symposium and Dinner of the  In House-Lawyers Group of the  Law Society of Scotland Dundas & Wilson, 10/11/2008 invitation to In House Lawyers Dinner Burness (did not win a contract), Meal Glasgow University, 08/10/2009 Meal after Scottish Public Law Group Event, 13/11/2009 Invitation to WS Dinner LBC Wise Counsel, 3/11/2009 WS Society Dinner (invited as guest of Morton Fraser, Solicitors), 20/11/2009 Law Society of Scotland In House Lawyers Pinsent Masons, 20/11/2009 Dinner at In House Lawyers Group of Law Society of Scotland McGrigors, 15/01/2010 Meal provided by Glasgow University Law School Advisory Panel, 22/01/2010 Lunch Edinburgh University Law School, 25/02/2010 Meal after Scottish Public Law Group event Faculty of Advocates, 26/03/2010 15 lunch provided by Glasgow University Graduate Law School, 26/03/2010 Meal provided by Glasgow University Law School in connection with GLSS teaching to GU Diploma in Legal Practice students, 21/04/2010 Invitation Scotland PLC Dinner - Glasgow Hilton Hotel Law Society of Scotland, 17/08/2010 Attendance at Fringe show plus meal Shepherd & Wedderburn Solicitors, 27/10/2010 Dundas & Wilson Invitation to Chairman's Dinner, 11/03/2011 The Law Society of Scotland Dinner, 16/11/2010 Meal at Edinburgh University after Edinburgh Law School event "Scotland & Independence" 15/03/2011 Dundas & Wilson Invitation -Leadership Lunch.

Scrutiny of the above information released today reveal several law firms who wined & dined the Scottish Government over the course of the last three years, also managed to win tenders to provide the Scottish Government with additional legal services via the new framework agreement across five legal subject areas, complementing the work of the Scottish Government Legal Directorate (SGLD), which also manages the outsourcing of legal work. There is of course, absolutely no suggestion whatsoever the wining, dining or even any lobbying, helped win the law firms any contracts from the latest multi million pound subsidy offered by the Scottish Government to Scotland’s legal profession. It is merely, coincidence !

The full list of those law firms who won the tenders to provide extra legal advice to the Scottish Government are :

Contract, commercial and corporate – Dundas & Wilson CS; DLA Piper Scotland; Morton Fraser; MacRoberts; Pinsent Masons

Debt recovery: Harper Macleod; Maclay Murray & Spens; McGrigors; MacRoberts; Morton Fraser

Litigation, inquiries and employment: Anderson Strathern; Brodies; DLA Piper Scotland; Ledingham Chalmers; Morton Fraser

Major projects: Biggart Baillie; Dundas & Wilson CS; DLA Piper Scotland; MacRoberts; Pinsent Masons Property: Harper Macleod; DLA Piper Scotland; Ledingham Chalmers; McGrigors; Morton Fraser

The budget for this latest legal venture by the SNP Scottish Government to expand the numbers of lawyers working for the Scottish Government comes in at a whopping cost of an additional TWENTY MILLION POUNDS to taxpayers, bringing in a convenient taxpayer funded subsidy to some of Scotland’s hard pressed for profits law firms in the current recession.

The Scottish Government’s tender for the latest intake of law firms at vast taxpayer’s expense can be viewed online here :  CONTRACT AWARD NOTICE £20 Million for a panel of law firms for four years although many of the web links contained within the tender which link back to the Scottish Government's website go to non-existent pages.

Diary of Injustice revealed in an earlier article Scottish Government spending £8.1 million on 225 lawyers salaries as more Scots miss out on legal representation, access to justice although it now appears two hundred & twenty five lawyers are not enough of a legal army to cover legal advice to Ministers, the Scottish Parliament and other departments including well known over budget quangos.

The new, if costly agreement will also be used through the Office of the Solicitor to the Advocate General, to source advice on Scots law for UK Government departments, agencies and NDPBs.

Bodies within the Scottish Administration which obtain legal advice from Scottish Government Legal Directorate include : Accountant in bankruptcy, HM inspectorate of Education, General Register Office for Scotland, Historic Scotland, National Archives of Scotland, Registers of Scotland, The Rent Officer, Scottish Prison Service, Scottish Public Pensions Agency, Social Work Inspection Agency, Student Awards Agency for Scotland, Transport Scotland.

The Scottish Government added in their FOI response they did not keep a hospitality register for the Government Legal Services For Scotland (GLSS), possibly because there is so much hospitality & work going on between the GLSS, law firms & the Law Society of Scotland, it would be an embarrassment to publish it.

THOSE WERE THE DAYS : In 2009, FOI revealed the Scottish Government had ONLY 225 lawyers :

FOI on Scottish Government Lawyers SalariesFOI reveals MacAskill likes lawyers so much, he's employed over two hundred of them at our expense. Today it can be revealed the Scottish Government are spending a whopping £8.1 million pounds of public money on salaries alone of some 225 lawyers. The Scottish Government's FOI stated that : "The Scottish Government has 3 main offices which provide legal services to the Scottish Ministers and agencies for which they have responsibility: the Scottish Government Legal Directorate, the Office of Scottish Parliamentary Counsel and the Legal Secretariat to the Lord Advocate. These offices together employ 139 lawyers (as at 1 April 2009). The total annual salary for these lawyers (including national insurance contributions and superannuation) in financial year 2008-2009 was £8,146,000. In addition, a further 86 lawyers are seconded to other government offices and inquiries as part of the Government Legal Service for Scotland. Those lawyers’ salary costs are met by the host office or inquiry."

It is worth noting, nearly every day of every week of every month of every year, someone in Scotland writes to whoever happens to be the First Minister or Justice Secretary, seeking help on a usually complicated, irresolvable issue concerning Scotland’s justice system or legal profession.

As those who write these letters asking, pleading, even begging for help over long term legal difficulties will have realised as time goes on, no matter which political party occupies St Andrews House, the answers to such requests are always the same cold shoulder full of excuses offered by the massed ranks of civil servants who run the Scottish Government.

Clearly however, when it comes to lobbying, gaining favour, gaining changes to legislation which may affect business, or even wining Government contracts, the edge is gained by offering a few free lunches, rather than just a kind word or a letter. As the saying goes, you can get further with a kind word and a free lunch, than you can with a kind word …


Anonymous said...

A bunch of lawyers sit down to dinner(s) with the Scottish Govt then happen to win 20mil worth of contracts.

Nothing accidental about this!

Anonymous said...

Errm wouldnt Scotland be better off with 225 new doctors instead of 225 hanger-on lawyers working for Salmond & MacAskill?

Anonymous said...

Glasgow University - no doubt acting under the advice and guidance of their notorious employee, and disgraced ex Law Society Chief Executive Douglas Mill - figure very prominently in the list.

It will be interesting to see if, purely coincidentally, Glasgow University subsequently gains approval for new training course in Law.

Anonymous said...

I am fairly sure these "officials" from the Scottish Government Legal Directorate should be focusing more on their work than having dinners with vested interests from the legal profession.

Anonymous said...

Seems a bit much to throw at lawyers with the public service cuts on the go unless they are going to sack the 225 lawyers already working at SG which I doubt.

Anonymous said...

26/03/2010 15 lunch provided by Glasgow University Graduate Law School


Who do we all know who works at Glasgow Uni and eats enough for 15 people!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Looks like a good list of lawyers to avoid!

Anonymous said...

The £20 million contract is all about the SNP keeping the legal profession sweet and onside for the next 5 years.
Clear evidence if any more were needed this is public money being used to subsidise lawyers lifestyles.

Anonymous said...

Are the SNP getting ready to sue every single person in Scotland?
What a disgusting use of £20million!

Anonymous said...

Interesting list containing a few who should have criminal records.See if you can work out which ones I am referring to :)

Anonymous said...

Am I the first to comment?

Just want to say good posts including this about the very obvious corporate hospitality bringing fruits of success and I love your blog taking apart the legal system as neatly as you do!

Anonymous said...

Police & Crown Office refused to charge legal aid thief lawyers plundering millions from taxpayers.

What we have regarding lawyers is a criminal support system, nothing shocks me about these mandacious criminals.

Just what John Rawls was concerned about powerful groups benefitting from a crooked political process. It also proves what John Stuart Mill said that democracy does not mean everyone if free. Legal freedom, the freedom to have legal representation is witheld by lawyers to save lawyers.

I do not vote anymore.

Anonymous said...

I wonder how much palm greasing went on at these dinners..

Anonymous said...

A friend of mine got a job with the SGLD on the say so of one of his mates.He didn't last long,reckoned the same as you they spend more time in contact with lawyers & the Law Society than doing any actual work.

Good expose of it all,I bet they are not chuffed!

Anonymous said...

KMacAskill must be rolling in it to employ all these lawyers to do his Scottish Government's dirty work oh sorry I mean employ all these lawyers at OUR expense.

Anyway all these millions wasted on the legal mafia doesnt our weak willed Parliament even get a say in it or do they just go along when its anything to do with throwing lots of OUR money at the legal profession?

Anonymous said...

1st comment


Anonymous said...

What are civil serpents doing going to dinners for law firm staff?

Clearly the hospitality is well spent now they've got the contracts!

Anonymous said...

These crooks are the same as the American bankers offering senators financial sweetners to secure the bank bailout.

Money and favours creates lots of friends. Good reporting Peter.


Cameron Fyfe joins Drummond Miller in Ross Harper partner exodus

Litigation specialist Cameron Fyfe is one of four partners who have announced they are leaving Glasgow giants Ross Harper. (Or did they want rid of you Cameron)?

Fyfe, together with Professor Alan Susskind & criminal law specialists Harvey Diamond and Richard Freeman will be leaving the nine-partner firm over the coming months.

Fyfe, who is joining Drummond Miller after 30 years at Ross Harper said he had left the firm on entirely amicable terms and ws looking forward to joining Drummond Miller.

Diamond and Freeman are understood to be setting up in partnership together.
Cameron please remember and tell your potential clients all lawyers, doctors and employers are insured by Marsh UK Royal Sun Alliance. You through the Law Society Master Policy pay into the insurance company your clients are therefore claiming damages from. A conflict of interest for you because you lawyers would be paying your clients damages if a causal link was produced. No doubt the Medical reports will demonstrate that Dr X could not make a diagnosis hence exonerating your clients employer and all of your insurers.

My advice to the Public. There is no Health & Safety at work unless you are visibly injured. If injuries are not visible you will need medical reports from doctors (including your GP) who are insured by the same company as your employer. These cases all go the same way, THE EMPLOYER IS NEVER RESPONSIBLE FOR YOUR INJURIES BECAUSE THE LAWYERS AND DOCTORS COVER EVERYTHING UP AT THE STROKE OF A PEN.

I have no doubt even if they were all insured by different companies they would still cover your injuries up. Trust no Lawyer.

Anonymous said...

The Catholic Church self regulates in that priests are dealt with using Canon Law. The Pontif being the head of a state known as the Vatican cannot be subjected to legal action, but the kids who were abused grew up.

This is what happens with self regulation, victims unite and fight the evil that they suffered.

Anonymous said...

More than half want Lockerbie probe
[This is the headline over a report published today in the Southend Standard, based on material issued by The Press Association. It reads as follows:]

More than half of Scots think there should be a public inquiry into the Lockerbie bombing, according to a new poll.

The survey, which was carried out by Angus Reid Public Opinion for the Scottish Sunday Express newspaper, also revealed that 32% of the 500 respondents believe Abdelbaset al-Megrahi was guilty of bombing Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie, while 35% said they did not and 33% were unsure.

The majority of those polled said they agreed with Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill's decision to free Megrahi in 2009 on compassionate grounds, when doctors advised that he had around three months to live after he was diagnosed with terminal prostate cancer. A quarter strongly agreed with the decision - even though he is still alive two years on - and 26% moderately agreed.

The newspaper's poll found that 52% of Scots agreed there should be an independent inquiry into the Lockerbie bombing, which killed 270 people, while 34% disagreed and 14% were not sure.

Megrahi, who was the only person convicted of the 1988 bombing, was tracked down to his villa in the Libyan capital of Tripoli at the weekend, where he is apparently comatose and near death.

Dr Jim Swire, whose daughter Flora died in the atrocity, has always maintained that Megrahi is innocent. He told the Sunday Express: "This is hugely encouraging. We have the right to know who really murdered our loved one.

Anonymous said...

Hospitality won the contracts - even if they deny it thats how it looks and why not publish a hospitality register instead of keeping it all secret until someone does an foi?
Very suspicious..

Anonymous said...

Call it what you like,hospitality,lunches,handshakes,relationships,acquaintances & just plain old bribery still win the better part of public contracts and those offered to the legal profession are no different.

Anonymous said...

Nine Scottish law firms have been placed among the top 100 earning practices in the UK, in the latest survey by the magazine Legal Business.

(So what do any of them need with taxpayers money from Alex Salmond's desire to keep lawyers happy we should be asking!)

Far out in front among the Scots is niche corporate firm Dickson Minto, with profit per equity partner of £950,000. They are followed by four firms within a £50,000 bracket: Turcan Connell on £377,000, Burness on £372,000, Brodies on £365,000, and Dundas & Wilson on £330,000. Shepherd & Wedderburn, Maclay Murray & Spens and McGrigors all come between £245,000 and £265,000, and the ninth entry is Anderson Strathern on £161,000 per equity partner.

Anonymous said...

The SNP are making the lawyers rich for some probably very bad reason the rest of us should be wary of..

Anonymous said...

If the Law Society was protecting clients as it does lawyers the websites would not exist.

It is a hub of corruption not to be trusted.

Anonymous said...

Nice.Lawyers are getting their "dear santa" wishes early from the Fat Minister Alex Salmond and all his slavish supporters will probably defend it.I think we know the calibre of people who defend giving taxpayers money to lawyers is about the same level as what comes out the back end of a rat.

Anonymous said...

This one did a lot of damage over the weekend according to someone we both know..

Anonymous said...

Yes Peter without a doubt there's palm greasing going on here just like under all the other Scottish Govts before it.
What does Eck want with hundreds of lawyers anyway?

Anonymous said...

Oh I thought the SNP didn't do lobbying & contracts scandals.What a turn up for the books NOT!

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