Friday, September 28, 2012

Clients snared in £18K a year ‘Mediation Trap’ at Scottish Legal Complaints Commission find little resolution as dodgy lawyers ‘play for time’ to avoid complaints investigations

SLCCMediation at Scottish Legal Complaints Commission branded expensive time wasting tactic. A SCHEME set up by the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission (SLCC) to mediate complaints made against rogue Scottish solicitors & law firms by clients has been branded nothing more than an expensive time wasting strategy which more often than not results in failures of outcomes for the client and advantageous lengthy delays to investigations being started into many Scots law firms over serious complaints made about their service.

In the past year alone, mediation at the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission has cost upwards of EIGHTEEN THOUSAND POUNDS, with a significant number of cases being sent back to investigation after the lengthy mediation process failed.

Clients who have been stuck for months in what has been dubbed by some as a ‘mediation trap’ have recently contacted Diary of Injustice, reporting numerous difficulties and a breakdown of expectation after false promises of amicable conclusions or a ‘sorting out’ of difficulties between clients & solicitors, which have more often than not disappeared during the time it has taken mediation cases to progress, with many clients finding their solicitors have been much less than honest during the mediation process.

As part of an on-going investigation into the viability of mediation between clients & solicitors who have provided expensive, yet poor, often negligent legal service, Diary of Injustice asked the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission to disclose its latest records of medication cases.

MEDIATION slcc FOIbmp_Page1The SLCC responded via a Freedom of Information legislation, disclosing information which makes extremely poor reading for any clients who are currently being cajoled by the SLCC into what is clearly a very poor mediation scheme with little results :

1. 91 cases have been put to mediation in this last year (i.e. since our last annual report).
2. There has been 58 successful mediation outcomes
3. There has been 33 mediation failures
4. The number of mediation outcomes accepted or rejected by complainer/solicitor is not applicable - if either party does not want to agree, there is no settlement. Such a mediation falls within the number of "mediation failures",
5. 33 mediation cases were sent to Investigation (if a mediation fails, the case goes to Investigation),
6. 0 mediation cases have been abandoned
7. The cost of all mediation cases equals £18028.29

While the above figures reveal some 58 ‘successful mediation outcomes’, it appears clients in several of these cases had to settle for much less than they expected to gain from the mediation process.

After DOI journalists made further enquiries of legal sources, it will surprise no one to lean that most of the outcomes in what the SLCC have dubbed ‘successful mediation outcomes’ appear to have disproportionately benefited the law firms & solicitors being complained about more so, than the client victims who were forced to go to the SLCC because of poor legal services undertaken by their solicitors.

There is also evidence to support claims from some clients that solicitors & law firms have been using the SLCC’s mediation process as little more than a delaying tactic to prevent full complaints investigations by regulators which could result in stiffer penalties and media exposure for those in Scotland’s legal profession who consistently abuse their clients.

Speaking to Diary of Injustice, a legal insider said it was common knowledge that law firms were abusing the mediation process simply to avoid investigations into their conduct. He also claimed material from the mediation process has been seen on an almost ‘live basis’ by the Law Society of Scotland & solicitors acting for the Legal Defence Union (LDU) who have previously been reported to have been involved in secret no-notes taken meetings with the highest ranks of the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission, featured earlier by Diary of Injustice in a report here : Investigation reveals Scottish Legal Complaints Commission's links, secret 'off the record' dealings with lawyers lobby group Legal Defence Union

A client who has been stuck in a months long mediation case which ultimately failed described the whole process as “a complete waste of time which only benefited the lawyers and has probably ruined any chance my complaint about my solicitor ripping me off will ever be properly investigated by the SLCC.”

The SLCC have issued no further comment or details on the types of cases entering into its mediation scheme, nor have they published the details of those thirty three cases which have failed and then been put back into the investigation loop.

If you have difficulties with the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission and have been involved in its mediation scheme, Diary of Injustice would like to hear from you. Please contact us via

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Great Fees Scandal : Scots legal consumers falling victim to RIP OFF bills from desperate law firms in ‘fabricated litigation racket’

Law Society of ScotlandLaw Society of Scotland, promoter of the profession, not honesty & high standards of service. IF YOU have recently received a bill from your lawyer, it may well be wise to cast a more than cautionary eye over amounts being demanded from you, as the chances are there is some expensive, yet non existent & fabricated work included in the sums demanded by the same solicitor who once told you the issue requiring the work of a qualified legal practitioner would not pose any difficulty or extreme cost to resolve.

An on going investigation by Diary of Injustice into fees demanded by Scottish law firms has so far revealed a significant number of solicitors bills brought to our attention which have been further looked into and queried both by clients and journalists, contain what can only be described as false charges for legal work which has never taken place.

Journalists have been able to establish that in all of the cases of disputed fee demands presented to Diary of Injustice regarding queries over the key area of "Counsel's Opinions", most of the solicitors failed (many refused) to produce any justification for obtaining a Counsels Opinion and all but one of the solicitors failed (again, many refused) to even produce an actual copy of the Counsel's Opinion to the client to justify claims for expenditures of up to £3,800 a time on alleged fees due to advocates.

In the sole case where, after six requests from the client to do so, the solicitor who was demanding £2,600 for a 'Counsel's Opinion', produced an incomplete, 'partial copy' of a Junior Counsel's opinion, along with an alleged copy of a cover note from the advocate named in the opinion, further enquiries revealed the advocate who supposedly wrote the opinion was, at the time, on extended leave after recovering from an alcohol related illness and had not been working for six months.

The advocate in the above case, has since admitted to journalists he was never contacted by the solicitor representing the client in a bitter boundary dispute so far lasting six years which has cost the client upwards of seventeen thousand pounds. The inescapable conclusion on this case is that clearly, the solicitor faked the advocate's opinion in order to fraudulently demand fees from his client.

As the antics of profit hungry, increasingly desperate Scots law firms to squeeze every penny out of their already impoverished clients shows, the imagination of solicitors to charge for non existent work is not limited to phantom 'Counsel's Opinions', with bills sent by both large city law firms and small High Street solicitors to clients on a variety of issues such as property transactions, divorce, wills & estates of deceased clients to complicated financial arrangements, commonly contain charges for items such as :

Non existent meetings between solicitors & clients,

Property & title searches, charged for, yet never carried out,

Letters to clients with 'important documents' supposedly "lost in the post",

Court appearances in Sheriff Courts and even Scotland's highest court, the Court of Session, none of which actually took place,

Exorbitant charges for storage of wills & other documents which clients were initially told was "a free service",

Shocking charges of up to £1,000 a time for the simple act of authorising payments, money transfers and other pay-outs to clients & beneficiaries.

In most of the 37 cases of disputed fees brought to the attention of Diary of Injustice, the clients involved have submitted complaints to the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission (SLCC), Law Society of Scotland & Faculty of Advocates. However, all three regulators have a poor track record in dealing with complaints over solicitors & advocates fees. Diary of Injustice recently reported on the reluctance of the SLCC to use its powers in complaints about fees, here : Regulator’s use of powers to reduce fees demanded by ‘crooked lawyers’ fails to keep pace with client complaints, dissatisfaction with Scots law firms

Some clients involved in disputes with their solicitors over clearly fraudulent fee demands have even approached their local Police Forces, asking for arrests & prosecutions, only to be shockingly told the issues "are civil matters", even though it is plain the criminal offence of fraud is at work in many of the cases.

A Police source speaking to Diary of Injustice pointed the finger of blame at Scotland's Crown Office. He alleged the Crown Office are reluctant to prosecute solicitors in Scotland for criminal offences involving acts committed against clients,  a fact backed up by several cases covered by Diary of Injustice and the media in the past where inexplicably, Scotland's Lord Advocate & Crown Office staff have refused to prosecute Scottish solicitors from everything from fraud against clients to the theft of millions of pounds of taxpayer funded legal aid.

Recently, Diary of Injustice has reported on how some clients have either been threatened with, or were actually made bankrupt by their law firm over disputes involving bills for legal work even though the law firm had actually significantly weakened or even ruined their client's legal affairs. Readers can view more on this here :

Since Diary of Injustice reported on a controversial case involving a Mr William Gordon and Perth Law firm Kippen Campbell, a number of clients have contacted Diary of Injustice telling of similar experiences of being threatened with sequestration or bankruptcy if bills for unsubstantiated legal work were not paid within seven days.

Cases like those already reported and others currently under investigation have led to a string of sequestrations across Scotland as a result of applications by law firms for the recovery of fees which commonly involve attempts to sell off client's properties on the cheap to recover a few thousand pounds for a greedy law firm which cannot provide evidence for its charges to clients.

Our advice - If you have a bill from your solicitor, the first thing you need to do is ensure it is itemised, and then if there is any work you are not sure took place, or was necessary in the first place, query the amounts asked for and if necessary, involve the regulators as soon as possible. If consumers want to alert Diary of Injustice to dodgy fee demands from solicitors, please email us via