Friday, May 31, 2013

Quango’s new rulers for our courts : Access to civil justice ‘up for grabs’ as Lord President and ‘usual suspects’ make up new Scottish Civil Justice Council

New justice quango to make rules for Scotland’s unfit for purpose Court of Session, Sheriff Courts. EARLIER this week the latest attempt to improve Scotland’s unfit for purpose, “Victorian” civil justice system was announced by Scotland’s top judge, Lord President Lord Brian Gill, in the form of the new Scottish Civil Justice Council (SCJC), the latest quango from Scotland’s antiquated courts system loaded with lawyers, judges and a mere two consumer representatives, which is charged with improving the rules governing civil justice in Scotland.

The new SCJC, which some legal insiders have jokingly dubbed “mad cow disease for the justice system”, replaces the existing Court of Session Rules Council and the Sheriff Court Rules Council both of which did precious little for Scots access to justice over the decades of their existence, so little in fact, the current Lord President Lord Gill published the Scottish Civil Courts Review in 2009, a two year project which resulted in heavy criticism of Scotland’s civil justice system over which the former two rules councils presided.

The new Scottish Civil Justice Council will take over the rule drafting functions of the former two rules councils and will also have a new, wider, role to advise and make recommendations on the civil justice system. However, any improvements over the earlier arrangements are expected to be measured at a glacial pace, expected to take years, rather than provide immediate relief to Scots stuck in litigation for years, even decades.

Announcing the appointment of members to the Scottish Civil Justice Council, established under the Scottish Civil Justice Council and Criminal Legal Assistance Act 2013, the Lord President, Lord Gill, said: “I am delighted to announce the appointment of members of the Scottish Civil Justice Council. The new Council will be responsible for delivering vital improvements to the civil justice system.

Lord Gill continued : “Each member will bring valuable skills and personal experience to the Council and I am confident that collectively, will be more than capable of meeting the significant task ahead in the implementation of the forthcoming civil courts reforms. An open and competitive recruitment exercise was held for the non-judicial members and I am grateful to all those who applied.”

The composition of the council is provided for by section 6 of Scottish Civil Justice Council and Criminal Legal Assistance Act 2013. The Act states that the Lord President is to appoint at least 4 judicial, 2 advocate, 2 solicitor, 2 consumer representative members and may appoint up to 6 LP members (these are appointments made at the Lord President’s discretion).The Lord President, the Chief Executive of the Scottish Court Service and the principal officer of the Scottish Legal Aid Board are members of the Council by virtue of their respective offices.  One member of Scottish Government staff is appointed by the Scottish Ministers. Judicial, advocate, solicitor, consumer representative members and LP members hold office for three years.

List of Council members:

The Lord President, Mr Eric  McQueen, Chief Executive of the Scottish Court Service, Mr Lindsay Montgomery CBE, Chief Executive SLAB, Miss Jan Marshall, Scottish Ministers’ appointee, Lord Menzies (judicial member), Lord Tyre (judicial member), Sheriff Principal Stephen (judicial member), Sheriff Abercrombie (judicial member), Mr James Wolffe QC (Advocate member), Mrs Sarah Wolffe QC (Advocate member), Mr Eric Baijal (Solicitor member), Mr Duncan Murray (Solicitor member), Mr Ian   Maxwell (Consumer representative member), Miss Lauren Wood (Consumer representative member), Mr Joseph d'Inverno (LP member), Professor Frances Wasoff (LP member)

About the Civil Justice Council

The creation of a single civil rules council for Scotland was one of the recommendations of the Scottish Civil Courts Review.  Many of the review recommendations will need new rules of court and the Scottish Civil Justice Council, which will have oversight of the entire civil justice system, will be responsible for taking these forward.  It will also be responsible for keeping the civil justice system under constant review.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Making Justice Work – Lawyers protest over Courts Reform (Scotland) Bill as legal profession fears end of it’s billion pound client rip-off ‘gravy train’

Law Society of ScotlandLawyers fearing hit on their incomes protest against court reforms. LET’S FACE IT, the current, “Victorian”, framework of Scotland’s courts & justice system is not about delivering access to justice to the people of Scotland. Rather, it is, in actuality, nothing more than a business model for the legal profession to charge exorbitant, prohibitive fees to clients, milk the taxpayer for hundreds of millions of pounds in legal aid payments, and rip off clients and get away with it, backed up by the solicitor’s safety net of lawyers continuing to regulate, and cover up for, their colleagues.

So, when the Scottish Government, proposes the Courts Reform (Scotland) Bill of the Making Justice Work programme to clean up the pig-sty of justice system presided over by a Lord President who himself branded Scots justice as unfit for purpose, failing society and “Victorian”, it will come as little surprise to lean the legal profession, who’s income is derived from taking the role of a skulking predator lying in swamps waiting for their victims to come to them, is up in arms at the prospect of losing their chance to drain people of their wealth, at will.

The Courts Reform (Scotland) Bill if passed, will see all cases where thousands of cases involving damages of less than £150,000 are at stake, heard by new summary sheriffs instead of the antiquated Court of Session. The Scottish Government hopes the reformed process will be quicker and cheaper than the current justice model, which Audit Scotland has estimated is wasting £55 million a year – and many tens of millions more from clients who are faced with life draining fee demands from law firms who consistently fail their clients.

The proposals put forward by the Scottish Government, provide the legal framework for implementing the majority of recommendations of the Scottish Civil Courts Review, led by Lord Gill the former Lord Justice Clerk and now Lord President of the Court of Session, once known for his views on the sheer idiocy of Scotland’s Civil Justice system. The proposals also discuss a redistribution of business from the Court of Session to the sheriff courts, creating a new lower tier of judiciary in the sheriff court called the summary sheriffs with jurisdiction in certain civil cases and summary criminal cases. Other proposed measures include the creation of a new national sheriff appeal court and a new national specialist personal injury court.

Admittedly, the Scottish Government’s proposals could go further than Lord Gill’s in house rendition of the Scots public’s right to access to justice, however, what has already been proposed has sufficiently stirred the legal profession into thoughts of further massed protests outside the Scottish Parliament and more rumoured court strikes, if justice is made to work for Scots, rather than made to pay for lawyers.

Predictably, the Law Society of Scotland claims there will  be all sorts of dangers to the justice system, should our “Victorian”, perhaps even stone age courts system be reformed, warning in a Press Release that the Scottish Government proposals to radically overhaul Scotland's civil court structure could produce a deluge of work for Scotland's sheriff courts, causing significant delays for those who depend on local courts.

The Law Society also claimed the proposals contained in the draft Courts Reform (Scotland) Bill, significantly increase the threshold for cases to be heard by the Court of Session. Currently, the Court of Session can hear all civil cases where the sum sued for is £5,000 or above. The draft Bill proposes changing the requirements, so only cases valued at over £150,000 can be raised in the Court of Session.

Kim Leslie, Convener of the Law Society of Scotland's Civil Justice Committee said: "If the proposals are implemented as currently drafted, a deluge of cases could hit Scotland's sheriff courts. "There is a risk that sheriff courts will be unable to cope with the volume of new work suddenly arriving at their door. We expect this to be made worse by the recent Scottish Government decision to support the closure of 20% of sheriff courts across Scotland. "If sheriff courts are unable to cope with the increased workload, there could be significant delays for court users."

The Law Society of Scotland's Civil Justice Committee claimed they carried out research in to the effects of raising the threshold to £150,000. The ‘research’, carried out by the Law Society itself (and to be taken with a pinch of salt) allegedly revealed that only 254 cases settled with a value in excess of this figure, which represented less than 2% of Court of Session business.

Ms Leslie added: "If the proposals are implemented as currently drafted, we could end up in the paradoxical situation of an almost completely deserted Court of Session, whilst court users in the sheriff courts suffer long delays as the courts struggle to cope with an increased workload. The Scottish Government is right to raise the threshold; however, we would prefer to see the limit set at no more than £50,000. This would allow cases with a lower value, but which still raise complex issues of matter of fact or law, to continue to be heard by the Court of Session."

The Law Society of Scotland’s full response to the Scottish Government’s consultation on the Courts Reform (Scotland) Bill can be found here HERE and it is clear throughout that Court closures and delays have been used to mask the Law Society’s fears its members may end up out of pocket and unable to rip off enough clients to survive another day.

A deserted Court of Session - Now that would be a bitter blow to the legions of Court of Session senators on nearly £200,000 a year who end up with pension pots of up to one million pounds, and are so trustworthy they dare not adhere to a register of interests for Scotland’s judiciary in case the public find out our courts system is little more than a closed shop, and in some cases, family run business bent on wielding unchecked influence over public life and inflating profits, salaries & perks for those within it, instead of providing Scots with a justice system fit for purpose.

The Faculty of Advocates joined the Law Society in objecting to the Scottish Government’s plans, claiming the reforms will create a system where those who can afford it receive the best legal representation, while those on legal aid will suffer – much like how the current system operates. The Faculty of Advocate’s response can be found online HERE

The FoA said in a statement: “The effect of these combined measures will, in the view of the faculty, fundamentally undermine both access to justice and equality of representation. Litigants choose to bring cases in the Court of Session notwithstanding that they could, as the law currently stands, bring them in the sheriff court. They do so because the Court of Session provides a better forum for resolution of their disputes. The proposal would in effect deprive individuals on low and moderate incomes and SMEs [small and medium sized businesses] with serious cases, of the right and ability to instruct an advocate. This aspect of the proposal would favour wealthy and corporate litigants, who can afford to instruct counsel, over ordinary people and would create inequality in the justice system.”

Above the howls of protestations of the legal profession, who are now rumoured to be planning court disruption and massed protests outside the Scottish Parliament when the bill is to be voted on, the Scottish Government has made it clear the reforms and court closures are necessary to save money and streamline the system, and will not overburden the remaining courts.

A spokesman said: “The Scottish Government accepted the Scottish Court Service’s proposals to change the structure of our courts. Their proposals are now being scrutinised by parliament.The fragmented, outdated court system we inherited, where many smaller courts are not fit for purpose and are underused, is no longer sustainable.”


The Making Justice Work programme brings together a range of reforms to the structure and processes of the courts, access to justice and tribunals and administrative justice.  It has been developed and is being delivered with partners across the justice system, including the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service, Scottish Court Service, Scottish Legal Aid Board and the Police.

As one of the justice outcomes change programmes* , Making Justice Work (MJW) contributes to the delivery of National Outcome 16, 'Our public services are high quality, continually improving, efficient and responsive to local people's needs'. The programme contains five overarching projects, which cover both civil and criminal justice:

MJW Project 1: Delivering efficient and effective court structures - To create a cost effective, proportionate court structure in which cases and appeals are heard by the right court in both civil and criminal cases, reserving the use of the highest courts for the most serious and complex cases.

MJW Project 2: Improving procedures and case management - To improve the procedures of the justice system and to introduce active and effective management of cases, in order to minimise delays and adjournments to ensure the most cost effective use of precious court time.

MJW Project 3: Enabling access to justice - To develop mechanisms which will support and empower citizens to avoid or resolve informally disputes and problems wherever possible, and to ensure they have access to appropriate and proportionate advice, and to a full range of methods of dispute resolution, including courts and tribunals where necessary, and appropriate alternatives.

MJW Project 4: Co-ordinating IT and Management Information - To provide the strategic platform for the development of IT, data management and management information to ensure all justice organisations have access to the data and information that they need, with efficient administrative processes supported by appropriate technology.

MJW Project 5: Establishing a Scottish Tribunals Service - To establish an efficient and effective Scottish Tribunals Service by merging the administration of devolved tribunals and through the devolution of reserved tribunals to Scotland.

All five MJW projects are now up and running. You may have come across some of those that are being lead by partners across the justice system - for example: getting people to court; and the new summary system model.

National Outcome 16 can be achieved by delivery of benefits across the justice system. A benefits framework is being used to evaluate and track progress across the whole programme, to provide clarity to project managers as to where their own projects fit in, and identify gaps where we may need to initiate new work.

The Scottish Government are taking a co-ordinated system wide approach, integrating policy development (eg response to Civil Courts Review & Sheriff & Jury) with short term projects to save money, working with justice operational delivery partners and identifying, considering and tracking the delivery of benefits across the system

Monday, May 27, 2013

SILENT RUNNING : Six weeks of ‘Victorian’ silence from Scotland’s top judge after MSPs request Lord Gill to reconsider refusal to attend Holyrood to answer questions on register of judicial interests

Larger on the Orient Express : Lord Gill stonewalls Scottish Parliament over judge’s vast secret financial interests. ALMOST SIX WEEKS since Scotland’s top judge, Lord President Lord Brian Gill was asked by MSPs from the Scottish Parliament’s Public Petitions Committee to reconsider his bitter opposition to attending Holyrood to answer questions on a proposal to create a register of judicial interests, the Lord President has apparently yet to find time between international travel commitments to give a written response to Scotland’s elected Parliament.

The second invitation from the Scottish Parliament to Scotland’s most senior judge to attend Holyrood was issued after Lord Gill earlier refused to attend the Petitions Committee to discuss issues raised in Petition PE1458, reported here : Scotland’s top judge Lord Gill refuses to attend Scottish Parliament to face questions over opposition to register of judicial interests

Petition PE1458: Register of Interests for members of Scotland's judiciary which was debated again at the Public Petitions Committee on Tuesday 16 April 2013, calls for the Scottish Parliament to urge the Scottish Government to create a Register of Pecuniary Interests of Judges Bill (as is currently being considered in New Zealand's Parliament) or to amend present legislation to require all members of the Judiciary in Scotland to submit their interests & hospitality received to a publicly available Register of Interests.

Diary of Injustice previously reported in mid April that the Scottish Parliament’s Petitions Committee issued a statement on Friday 19 April, reporting that Lord Gill had been asked to reconsider his decision not to appear in front of the Scottish Parliament’s Public Petitions Committee in a letter issued by Convener David Stewart MSP on behalf of the Committee. The invitation asks Lord Gill to reconsider his decision not to attend the committee to discuss petition PE1458, which calls for legislation to be put in place to require all members of the judiciary in Scotland to submit their interests and hospitality received to a publicly available register of interests.

Committee Convener David Stewart MSP said: “As a Scottish Parliament committee, our job is to fully examine the petitions before us and explore the issues involved.Only by doing this can we ensure that we exhausted every possible avenue in taking a petition forward. To do this without hearing from the Lord President in person would be difficult. That is why we are disappointed that Lord Gill has felt unable to attend a committee meeting to discuss these issues fully. We have written to Lord Gill asking him to reconsider his decision in the hope that our committee can have a full and frank discussion of the issues.”

MSPs letter to Lord Gill requesting he attend Scottish Parliament. The text of the letter sent by Convener of the Petitions Committee, David Stewart MSP to Lord Gill states : “Notwithstanding your response, the Committee still feels it would assist its consideration of this petition and aide its understanding of the issues raised were you able to make yourself available.  The Committee can see benefit in being able to explore with you orally the written evidence provided. By way of example, we note that to your knowledge no situation has arisen, within your tenure as Lord President, where a judge has failed to recuse him or herself. Would a central record be kept of any such instances and if so, are you able to provide any information on the numbers involved? I and the other members of the Committee would be most grateful if you were able to reconsider the invitation from the Committee to attend in person.”

Diary of Injustice reported on an earlier meeting of the Petitions Committee on 5th March 2013 where MSPs initially invited Lord Gill to attend Holyrood, here : SILENCE IN COURT : Scotland’s top judge Lord Gill summoned to Parliament over ‘vested interests’ attempt to block Register of Judicial Interests petition and video footage of that earlier meeting is also available online here : Petition PE1458 Register of Judges Interests 5 March 2013 Scottish Parliament.

All previous reports from Diary of Injustice and further information on the drive to create a register of interests for Scotland’s judiciary can be viewed here : A Register of Interests for Scotland's Judiciary


Courts Judges Scotland montagePetition PE01458: Register of Interests for members of Scotland's judiciary calls for the Scottish Parliament to urge the Scottish Government to create a Register of Pecuniary Interests of Judges Bill (as is currently being considered in New Zealand's Parliament) or amend present legislation to require all members of the Judiciary in Scotland to submit their interests & hospitality received to a publicly available Register of Interests. Diary of Injustice has featured coverage of the petition in earlier reports, Register of Interests for Judges.

The petition also features references to debate in the Parliament of New Zealand who are considering legislation to create a register of interests for the judiciary. It is time for Scotland to move in the same direction and create a similar register of interests for the judiciary of Scotland and all its members, increasing the transparency of the judiciary and ensuring public confidence in their actions & decisions.

The full details of the New Zealand Register of Pecuniary Interests of Judges Bill, should be looked at for a model of similar legislation in Scotland, can be viewed online here  Register of Pecuniary Interests of Judges Bill.

The New Zealand Law Commission’s discussion paper on a register of judicial interests which recommends further inclusion of court staff in a register of interests, can be downloaded here : NZLC IP21 - Towards a New Courts Act: A Register of Judges pecuniary interests? (pdf)

In comparison to New Zealand’s effort to ensure transparency in the judiciary, Scotland’s judges and the Scotish Government have, unsurprisingly backed away from any similar measures, even concealing criminal charges and convictions of Scottish judges, where in one case a Scottish judge was charged with fiddling benefits claims, exposed in a Diary of Injustice investigation into Judge’s financial fiddles, here : CAREER CROOKED : Investigation reveals Scottish judges are CONVICTED CRIMINALS, Drunk Drivers,Tax Dodgers & alleged BENEFITS CHEATS

The on-going investigation by Diary of Injustice into members of Scotland’s judiciary has already revealed a series of judges appear to be involved in OFFSHORE TAX AVOIDANCE schemes, associations with convicted criminals & organised crime, prostitution rackets, accepting hospitality & payments from well known corrupt solicitors representing dodgy law firms while others on the bench are engaging in questionable investments & duties which appear to be in conflict with their positions as members of the judiciary. More on these findings can be read in an earlier article here : Offshore trusts, property holdings, insurance syndicates, hospitality from dodgy lawyers, yet no plans for a register of interests for Scottish judges

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Perth Law firm & Accountant in Bankruptcy lose bitter fight for disputed legal fees as MSP secures discharge for disabled client after FOUR YEAR ORDEAL

AIB MSP KCMSP Jayne Baxter secures relief for constituent in bitter fight over legal fees.THE CASE of a Perth client who has been through an horrific FOUR YEAR ordeal initiated by a Perth based law firm & Scotland’s Accountant in Bankruptcy (AIB) over fees claimed to be owed for a personal injury case, has sensationally collapsed after it was revealed this week the client has been officially discharged by the AIB from any alleged debts and that no funds were repaid to either the AIB or the law firm who claimed to be owed the money.

Just days ago, Mr William Gordon, of Perth, was notified by the office of Jayne Baxter MSP, he had been discharged by the AIB in late November 2012 from any alleged debts due to Perth based law firm Kippen Campbell.

The discharge, which frees Mr Gordon from any further claim by his former solicitors, comes after a long running battle over disputed legal fees Kippen Campbell claimed were due to them even though they had withdrawn from acting for their client and left him on the steps of the Court of Session to face a judge, alone, in his personal injury claim.

Notification of the discharge was only provided to Jayne Baxter, Mr Gordon’s MSP, after several requests from Mrs Baxter and her staff to the AIB for copies of the documents and an update on her constituent, Mr Gordon’s position.

Copies of papers received by the MSP and handed to Diary of Injustice appear to show the AIB and it’s agents who acted in the case, Glasgow based accountants Wylie & Bisset, failed to provide Mr Gordon with any notification of his discharge in November of last year. The delay of seven long months in informing Mr Gordon of his discharge, raises serious questions as to why the AIB felt they could keep Mr Gordon in a state of flux for some seven months after the discharge took effect.

It has also been revealed the AIB are refusing to supply Mr Gordon and his MSP with a copy of the actual discharge certificate, citing a rule over fees, despite the fact the entire case has already cost the taxpayer a significant amount of money. Representatives of Mr Gordon who have been helping him through this long ordeal have today told Diary of Injustice they will continue to pursue the AIB for a copy of the actual discharge certificate, given Mr Gordon’s entitlement to a copy and to help establish more details surrounding the AIB’s conduct in this case.

Given the shocking treatment of Mr Gordon in this case, Diary of Injustice feels there must be a full investigation into the circumstances surrounding the AIB's conduct towards Mr Gordon and the actions of its agents in the wake of claims no authentic court papers were ever served on Mr Gordon nor was he given the chance to challenge events, due to circumstances of poor health which have been verified by his own doctor to the court on each required occasion.

There are also serious questions over the activities of the AIB’s agents, who attempted to seize the rented house Mr Gordon lives in, and the house of another individual unrelated to Mr Gordon, with a view to scoop the proceeds of the sale of both properties in lieu of the less than three thousand pounds claimed to be owed to the law firm.

The AIB’s move to seize Mr Gordon’s home and a property belonging to someone else, was reported by Scottish Law Reporter and the Herald newspaper, here : Accountant in Bankruptcy agents try to seize wrong house in bankruptcy of disabled client ordered by Perth law firm over disputed legal fees

AIB threatened to seize two properties for a £2.7K debt to solicitors. In letters sent to Mr Gordon, AIB agents Wylie & Bisset demand a “required payment” of NINETY TWO THOUSAND & FIVE HUNDRED POUNDS, and went on to threaten “We require firm proposals for the realisation of the sum in question to your sequestrated estate as a matter of urgency. Should we not receive your proposals within 14 days of the date of this letter, then please be aware that we shall be forced to seek action for vacant possession of the property.”.The second property located in Rattray, Blairgowrie, and owned by a family unconnected to Mr Gordon was valued by AIB agents Wylie & Bisset, at £185,000. However, the debt allegedly owed to Kippen Campbell amounted to little more than £2,700.

Along with the freezing of Mr Gordon’s access to his state disability benefits for seven months – an act on its own which is reprehensible and not acceptable in terms of the law as it stands, nothing short of a full investigation into, and an accounting of the AIB’s activities in this case must take place and be published in the public interest.

How a law firm and bankruptcy regulations were used to hound a disabled client for dodgy fees :

Diary of Injustice initially reported on the long running case of Mr Gordon in December 2009, when it was revealed the then head of the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission Jane Irvine was to be cited as a witness at Perth Sheriff Court after it was revealed Kippen Campbell had tried to charge their former client a fee for dealing with complaints.

During October 2010, the case came back into the media spotlight with Kippen Campbell took their case to Perth Sheriff Court in an attempt to pursue Mr Gordon for the fees they claimed to be owed, reported here : Personal injury client dropped by Perth based solicitors Kippen Campbell ‘being hounded’ by court attempts to recover disputed fees

Later in October 2010 it was also revealed by Diary of Injustice that Sally McCartney, a partner at Kippen Campbell and the solicitor at the heart of the case against Mr Gordon had lobbied the Scottish Parliament against independent regulation of solicitors Scottish Parliament documents reveal Perth law firm in complaint fees case campaigned against Holyrood clean-up of regulation of lawyers

In July of 2012, Diary of Injustice featured a further article on the case, revealing Mr Gordon’s now two years of hell could have been avoided if the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission had used their powers on fee nullification in the course of considering Mr Gordon’s complaints against his then solicitors Kippen Campbell.

Material also presented to Diary of Injustice at the time and featured in the report, revealed the private firm of accountants acting on behalf of the Accountant in Bankruptcy, had also frozen access to his disability benefits, here : Solicitors regulator blamed for failure to use powers on fees as accountants seize Disability benefits to pay Perth law firm for collapsed court case

As further enquiries continued into Mr Gordon’s case, an investigation by the media of the Accountant in Bankruptcy’s conduct revealed over £8 million pounds of taxpayers money was being handed on a plate to private firms of accountants by the AIB, reported by Diary of Injustice here : £8 MILLION of YOUR MONEY spent on ‘BULLY BOY’ agents as papers to MSP reveal Accountant in Bankruptcy secretly seize benefits of disabled, trashing lives of Scots on the brink

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Drug smuggling, threats to destroy clients & Prosecutors convicted of child porn offences : Welcome to Scotland’s not-so ‘world class’ or ‘well respected’ legal profession

Scotland’s ‘well respected’ legal profession in the dock as solicitor jailed for drugs smuggling. YET another rough week for Scotland’s world famous legal profession has ended with the sentencing of solicitor David Blair Wilson to four years in jail for attempted smuggling of mobile phones & drugs into Saughton jail. As some legal observers have pointed out to journalists today, many feel the case only reached court because the media had reported on events surrounding the high profile swoop on Blair Wilson outside Saughton Prison in October 2011.

Blair Wilson had been targeted by a sting operation after Police & Prison authorities had been tipped off he was running a well planned operation, smuggling illegal drugs which had been heat sealed into pages of A4 paper, and other banned items such as mobile phones into Saughton Prison.

Lawyer held by jail Drug Cops Sunday Mail 09 October 2011Sunday Mail reported arrest of David Blair Wilson in October 2011. His trial, which lasted six days in April, saw dramatic CCTV footage of plain clothes police officers blocking any attempt by Blair Wilson to drive away in his silver hatchback after making an exit from prison buildings. Police then led him away in handcuffs. Police subsequently searched Blair Wilson’s car and uncovered mobile phones, diazepam tablets worth up to £2800 at inflated prison prices, and cannabis resin with a prison value of £4000 along with other contraband items.

A jury's majority verdict convicted Blair Wilson of attempting to smuggle three mobile phones, three SIM cards along with two chargers and two earphones into the jail. He was also found guilty, by majority, of being concerned in the supply of cannabis resin, diazepam and body-building drugs, in particular to prisoner Lee Brown who is serving 18 years for attempted murder.

Blair Wilson rose to fame as a central character in the Magic Circle scandal of the late 1980’s, where the most senior members of Scotland’s judiciary had been investigated for having inappropriate liaisons with ‘young males’ and ‘rent boys’, liaisons which has clearly spilled over into the courts system, according to Police intelligence at the time.

Scottish Law Reporter has reported on the Magic Circle in an article HERE and has also featured a report on the key role of a former Lord Advocate in what was known at the time as Operation Planet, an investigation run by Lothian & Borders Police to catch crooked judges & prosecutors ‘who were swapping boys for favours in Scottish Courts’, HERE. Lord Nimmo Smith QC’s REPORT ON MAGIC CIRCLE GAY JUSTICE SCANDAL, has been widely refuted by many as a whitewash of the corruption in the Scottish judiciary, which some claim, with evidence, continues to this day.

Solicitor Grant Docherty – threatened to destroy a client. THIS WEEK had already started on a bad note for Scotland’s legal profession, when it was reported Police are allegedly investigating another solicitor, Grant Docherty, the current head of Banking & Finance for DWF Biggart Baillie after evidence presented to the Scottish Solicitors Discipline Tribunal (SSDT) revealed a torrent of messages containing threats & abuse from Mr Docherty to a client, over a failed house purchase. More on the story can be found at Scottish Law Reporter here : Police called in to investigate DWF Biggart Baillie’s Banking & Finance head solicitor Grant Docherty, fined £7.5K by Discipline Tribunal over ‘crazed’ threats made to client

Scottish Law Reporter reported that evidence presented to the SSDT and included in complaints made to the Law Society of Scotland revealed that solicitor Docherty (aged 49), who is currently head of the Banking & Finance team at DWF Biggart Baillie said Robert Rankin would be ripped “to shreds” after failing to come up money for a house purchase. The Discipline Tribunal also heard that Docherty, 49, sent his client a string of abusive texts including one which warned: “I’ll come after you with everything I have.” A further text said: “This is personal. You’re a liar and the worst sort of human being.”

It was also reported the Law Society of Scotland’s Prosecuting Fiscal, Paul Marshall, told the Scottish Solicitor’s Discipline tribunal in Edinburgh of the contents of the messages, which said in one case : “He said he would rip Robert Rankin to shreds.” Mr Marshall went on to tell the Discipline Tribunal that some of Docherty’s 33 messages, which had been sent between December 2010 and January 2011, were also seen by the client’s young son. One of the messages said Docherty would “ensure” Robert was “destroyed”.

Docherty only stopped threatening his client, who had been put in a state of fear & alarm by the solicitor’s actions, when Police were called in. Complaints were then made to the Law Society of Scotland who brought the prosecution of Docherty before the Tribunal hearing in April where the solicitor was eventually fined £7,500 after being found guilty of professional misconduct although allowed to continue working.

A month on from the Tribunal hearing involving Grant Docherty, the Scottish Solicitors Discipline Tribunal have failed to publish its decision and any evidence heard during proceedings. Scottish Law Reporter added in their report that discussions have apparently been taking place “with a view to refrain from publishing some of the more threatening texts sent by the solicitor, which a well placed legal insider claims are allegedly of a violent nature”.

The brewing row over the SSDT’s conduct in the Tribunal hearing against solicitor Grant Docherty apparently relates to the content of many of the messages sent by Docherty to his client, content which some allege to contain life threatening statements which the SSDT do not want to publish in their final decision. Yet despite the seriousness of the threats made by the solicitor, the Tribunal chairman Alistair Cockburn could only manage a comment claiming : “The expressions used were unfitting of a solicitor.”

Admittedly, Mr Cockburn’s lack of shock may well be put down to the fact that solicitors physically threatening their clients has become commonplace in complaints, with substantial evidence pointing to the Law Society watering down client;s allegations to ensure most cases never made it to the media.

Former Procurator Fiscal Depute Stuart MacFarlane who served in Iraq, awaits sentence for downloading child porn. MIDWEEK faired no better, after the media reported that former Procurator Fiscal Depute Stuart MacFarlane (45), from Glasgow, had admitted downloading child pornography from the internet, reported further on Scottish Law Reporter here : Shame for Crown Office & Lord Advocate as former Procurator Fiscal Stuart MacFarlane admits downloading child porn, added to sex offenders register

The former Procurator Fiscal, who had served in the Army in Iraq, and is now apparently working as a contractor in Afghanistan, was caught with at least 15,000 images of child pornography on computer equipment at his home after Police succeeded in gaining a search warrant to raid his premises and seize computer equipment. Images seized by Police from computer equipment owned & used by MacFarlane showed acts of a sexual nature against minors, and also pictures of sexual acts with animals. Macfarlane now awaits to hear if he will be handed a custodial prison sentence on MacFarlane although his name was placed on the sex offenders register.

MacFarlane had served as a Procurator Fiscal Depute at Scotland’s Crown Office & Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) for many years, and during his time there the media reported MacFarlane strangely escaped prosecution for earlier charges of indecency with a prostitute the Crown Office claiming at the time “it was not in the public interest” to prosecute.

The current Lord Advocate, Frank Mulholland, and the Crown Office have issued no statement or comment on their former colleague’s admission to downloading child porn, instead preferring to run off Press Releases praising their own conviction rate, and doubtless hoping for the reinstatement of bonuses or inflated salaries.

Philip Yelland, Head of Regulation at the Law Society of Scotland. Coming along to reassure us the Law Society of Scotland would act further in the case of David Blair Wilson, but apparently not in the case of the convicted former Prosecutor, or the top banking lawyer who threatened his client, the Law Society of Scotland’s Director of Regulation, Philip Yelland issued a Press Release stating : Former solicitor, David Blair-Wilson was today, Friday 17 May, sentenced to four  years in prison at Edinburgh High Court. The length of sentence means that he faces automatic prosecution before the Scottish Solicitors Discipline Tribunal. Mr Blair-Wilson has not held a practicing certificate which would allow him to work as a solicitor since October 2011.

Mr Yelland, who has been at the Law Society of Scotland for 23 years and who’s name has become familiar to clients who have received no justice against corrupt solicitors, commented : "Solicitors are expected to maintain the highest standards both in their professional and personal lives. They are bound by rules including rules about their conduct, and serious criminal convictions are a breach of these rules. We will get official notice of the sentence from the authorities, which will allow us to raise a formal complaint which enables us to take a prosecution to the independent Scottish Solicitors Discipline Tribunal."

Mr Yelland, after twenty three years at the Law Society, handling all the cases you have, your department & its staff saving hundreds of solicitors from the long arm of the law, from justice for clients, saving those solicitors who should rightly be stuck off after they ruined clients lives, interfering in many client’s legal cases in courts against solicitors … you must be kidding.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Scottish Law Commission criticised as Draft Bankruptcy Act for Scotland fails to protect weakest victims of debt & insolvency from AIB’s multi million pound sequestration racket

Scottish Law CommissionMissed opportunity to protect vulnerable Scots from draconian Bankruptcy powers. A REPORT presented by the Scottish Law Commission (SLC) on the Consolidation of Bankruptcy Legislation in Scotland has been branded by critics as a missed opportunity to curb & control the multi million pound sequestration racket in Scotland which sees private firms of accountants gain millions of pounds in little talked about public contracts to go after people who have little or no ability to pay back their debts.

Rather than address the most pressing & critical problems involving sequestrations & bankruptcies in Scotland, which in several cases have seen agents acting for the Accountant in Bankruptcy freezing state disability payments to the long term sick & disabled, the Scottish Law Commission has chosen to fiddle with definitions & semantics of legislation in order to ‘consolidate’ legislation which is currently working as a license for private accountants to print money at the taxpayers expense.

In its official figures published on 24 April 2013, the Accountant in Bankruptcy reported that for the fourth quarter of the financial year 2012-13 there were 3,472 personal insolvencies in Scotland, generating millions of pounds of private contracts handed out to select private firms of accountants.

Diary of Injustice has previously reported on how lavish multi million pound contracts are handed out to accountancy firms by the AIB, here : £8 MILLION of YOUR MONEY spent on ‘BULLY BOY’ agents as papers to MSP reveal Accountant in Bankruptcy secretly seize benefits of disabled, trashing lives of Scots on the brink

Most of the law recommended for consolidation is already contained in the Bankruptcy (Scotland) Act 1985. The 1985 Act has been heavily amended in recent years, most notably by the Bankruptcy and Diligence etc. (Scotland) Act 2007. Many of the provisions of the 1985 Act are excessively long and the structure of the Act has become difficult to follow with the result that the Act has lost coherence.

The Report makes a number of recommendations for amendments to the Bankruptcy (Scotland) Act 1985. The changes relate to matters of technical detail and are intended to remove anomalies, treat like cases in the same way or to omit provisions that no longer serve any purpose.

Annexed to the Report are -

A Bankruptcy (Scotland) Bill to consolidate the legislation;
Tables of Destinations and Derivations relating to the provisions;
A draft Order which we envisage would be made under section 104 of the Scotland Act 1998
and which would give effect to certain provisions of the Bill in other parts of the UK.
The Commission has worked closely with the Accountant in Bankruptcy in producing the Report.

Commenting on the Scottish Law Commission's report, Lady Clark of Calton, the Chairman of the Commission said : "It is important that the law on bankruptcy should be stated in a clear and accessible form. The existing statutory provisions dealing with bankruptcy are cumbersome and difficult to use. We hope that consolidating the legislation will make it easier and more efficient for practitioners and others to provide advice to people faced with personal bankruptcy”.

Rosemary Winter-Scott, Chief Executive of Accountant in Bankruptcy who has previously refused to answer questions on why her organisation has frozen access to benefits payments to the disabled for up to seven months at a time, said : “We welcome the Scottish Law Commission’s Report on the Consolidation of Bankruptcy Legislation in Scotland. Bankruptcy legislation in Scotland has been heavily amended over the years and the consolidation will ensure that the legislation is more accessible for practitioners and those affected by it. A Bankruptcy Bill is due to be introduced in the Scottish Parliament this summer. We expect the Consolidation Bill to follow after that Bill has completed the parliamentary process. This will bring bankruptcy legislation in Scotland into the 21st century.”

However, a spokesperson for one of Scotland’s consumer organisations told Diary of Injustice she was dismayed the Scottish Law Commission had not taken the opportunity to look deeper into how the Accountant in Bankruptcy has effectively misused its powers to force debt ridden victims into complicated long term repayment deals which are clearly unaffordable and not required in terms of law.

She said : “The Scottish Law Commission is well aware of substantial problems with the application of bankruptcy legislation in Scotland and this would have been a good opportunity to suggest amendments to ensure the weakest in society are protected from actions undertaken by the AIB against persons who are in receipt of disability benefits, actions which are clearly unacceptable in a civilised society.”

More can be read on the Scottish Law Commission’s report on Bankruptcy legislation HERE

With the prospect of new legislation being put before the Scottish Parliament, anyone who has been sequestrated or made bankrupt in Scotland and who has experienced difficulties with the Accountant in Bankruptcy and their agents, are encouraged to write to their MSPs and make submissions to the Scottish Parliament.

If you have encountered problems with the Accountant in Bankruptcy or their agents, Diary of Injustice would also like to hear from you via

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Denied justice due to lack of funds ? Litigants can apply for Exemption from Court fees in Scotland if you are on low income or in receipt of certain benefits

Parliament_House,_EdinburghLacking funds ? Don’t be denied justice just because of court fees WITH the tough financial times and lack of affordable legal representation in Scotland, it is important for those needing to access Scotland’s courts to remember there are avenues available to them to assist in their right to access to justice. One of those avenues is exemption from court fees if you are on benefits.

The following guide is reprinted from the Scottish Courts website regarding court fees, to assist readers who find themselves in such circumstances : Court Fees

There are various fees payable for submitting applications to the court and for lodging documents at different stages of the court procedure. The fees are set out in Scottish Statutory Instruments (referred to as a Fee Orders). These are regularly updated by Fee Amendment Orders.

Scottish Court Service Fees Statement

A summarised version of the Sheriff Court, Court of Session, High Court and Justice of the Peace Court Fees Orders covering the period from 10 December 2012 until 31 March 2015 can be accessed here

Fee exemption

You may be entitled to exemption from paying court fees in the following circumstances:

You or your spouse/civil partner are in receipt of:
  • income support
  • Income-based employment and support allowance
  • Pension credit guarantee credit
  • working tax credit, including child tax credit and gross annual income used for calculation of tax credit is £16,642 or less
  • working tax credit, including a disability element and gross annual income used for calculation of tax credit is £16,642 or less
  • working tax credit, including a severe disability element and gross annual income used for calculation of tax credit is £16,642 or less
You are in receipt of: 
  • income-based jobseeker’s allowance
  • universal credit (from 29 April 2013

If you are applying for fee exemption as you or your spouse/civil partner are in receipt of one of these benefits, you must provide a letter from either DWP or HMRC confirming the receipt of the benefits. Your exemption cannot be processed without proof of receipt of benefits.

You may also be entitled to exemption from paying court fees if:
  • You are receiving civil legal aid in respect of the matter for which the fee is payable (Section 13(2) of the Legal Aid (Scotland) Act 1986 refers); or
  • The fee is payable in connection with a simplified divorce or dissolution of civil partnership application and you are receiving advice and assistance from a solicitor in respect of that application (Legal Aid (Scotland) Act 1986 refers); or
  • The fee is payable in connection with work being undertaken by your solicitor which qualifies for civil legal aid as matter of “special urgency” (Section 36 of the Legal Aid (Scotland) Act 1986 refers).

Applications where fee exemption does not apply:

You cannot apply for fee exemption if you are making an application in relation to commissary proceedings (dealing with a deceased person’s estate) or if lodging a petition for removal of disqualification from driving under the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988.

Download a fee exemption form.

If anyone requiring to apply for exemption from court fees due to their financial circumstances does encounter too much ‘red tape’ or undue obstructions placed in their applications, Diary of Injustice journalists would like to hear from you, via

Monday, May 13, 2013

Carving up the client roast : Solicitors regulator SLCC’s Board Members Interests reveals connections, influence & how quango positions, consultancy empires are built behind closed doors


Judges should do it too - Register of Interest at Scots solicitors regulator reveals connections public should know. WHILE the Scottish Parliament await to hear from Scotland’s Lord President Lord Brian Gill who was asked over a month ago to reconsider his refusal to attend an evidence session before MSPs on the subject of Petition PE1458: Register of Interests for members of Scotland's judiciary, it is worth noting there are others in Scotland’s closed shop legal empire who are already bound by rules which require them to declare their interests.

The board members of Scotland’s notoriously inept, scandal prone legal regulator, the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission (SLCC) have been required to declare their interests in an updated register published online by the SLCC, after DOI journalists submitted Freedom of Information requests to the ‘independent’ SLCC in 2008 for details of board members interests & connections.

Over the past five years of the SLCC, its changing, and burgeoning board members lucrative interests have been reported on Diary of Injustice, where connections with big business, law firms, the lucrative world of mediation & consultancies, Scottish Government quangos and the well-remunerated committee circuit have shown some at the SLCC with more than 10 jobs at a time.

Unsurprisingly, little has changed in 2013, with the most recent published version of the SLCC’s Board Members Register of Interests revealing most of it’s board members haves the usual ‘as long as your arm’ list of interests which gives credence to critics & consumers perception of the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission as a bit of a time wasting exercise in the regulation of complaints against solicitors.

Notably, the 2013 Register of Interests at the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission currently published, lacks mention of any information which may give an indication of a wealth quantification of those on the SLCC’s board, however it is plain that those who end up at the SLCC, just as those who end up promoted to positions within Scotland’s judiciary, appear to gather up money making roles on boards, jobs as consultants and other high earning money spinners almost as easy as ordering a pizza.

Any register of interests for Scotland’s Judiciary will most certainly have to include more specific information on judges and their links, interests etc which the SLCC currently, curiously omits.

The current Register of Interests published by the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission is published below, however it should be noted there is as yet no entry for the SLCC’s newest Board Member, former Scottish Information Commissioner Kevin Dunion who was consistently critical of how the SLCC handled Freedom of Information requests to the media.

Bill Brackenridge (Chairman, SLCC)
*Non-Executive Director of Highland Health Board.
*Non-Executive Director of the State Hospital Board.
*Chairman, Argyll & Bute Adult Protection Committee.

Lawyer Members :

George Clark
*Director of Scottish Building Society and SBS Mortgages Limited.
*Former Consultant/Partner with Morton Fraser LLP from 1979 until 2012.
*Chair of the Private Rented Housing Panel in Scotland.
*Previously, Chairman of Edinburgh Solicitors Property Centre from 1988 until 2001.
*Chair, of Homeowners Housing Panel.
*Member of Scottish Rugby Council

Ian Leitch CBE
*Member of the Law Society of Scotland.

Maurice O'Carroll
*Practising Member of the Faculty of Advocates 1995 – date.
*Ad hoc Advocate Depute for Crown Office 2002 – date.
*Brother of Sheriff Derek O’Carroll who as a practising Member of the Faculty of Advocates (2000-2010).
*Board Member of the Homeowners Housing Panel 2012 – date.

‘Lay’ Members :

Ian Gibson
*Board Member of NHS Highland and Chair of Health and Social Care Committee.
*Member of consultant’s panel for Lloyds TSB Foundation for Scotland.
*Member of consultant’s list for Development Partners Ltd providing business advice services for Highlands and Islands Enterprise.
*Member of consultant’s panel for the Charities Aid Foundation.
*Volunteer business mentor Scottish Chamber of Commerce.
*Cousin is a partner in Kirklands Solicitors Perth.
*Nephew is a solicitor advocate with Simpson Marwick; his partner is an advocate in Axiom stables.
*Trustee CLIC Sargent.
*Secretary of Newtonmore Camanachd Club.

Dr Samantha Jones
*Director of Islandscape Photography (self-employed).
*Freelance consultant.
*Formerly, an Associate Consultant with Valuta Ltd during (2010).
*Previously, Clerk to the Standards Committee and HR Change Programme
*Manager for Scottish Parliament (2000-2010).
*During time with Scottish Parliament had regular professional contact with staff of the Government Legal Service for Scotland (GLSS) (2000-2010).
*Chair of Mull Theatre Ltd – voluntary unpaid role.
*Director of Comar, SCIO – voluntary unpaid role.
*Director of Wild Scotland – voluntary unpaid role.
*A Licentiate of the Royal Photographic Society – voluntary unpaid role.
*Volunteer Crew Member at Tobermory RNLI and the station's Lifeboat Press Officer – voluntary unpaid role.

Iain McGrory
*Commissioned the services of Simpson and Marwick Solicitors, Aberdeen and Edinburgh Branches, on behalf of Grampian Police, on several occasions between 2002 and 2010.
*Iain McGrory is an independent complaints handling consultant trading as IJM Professional Services.
During 2012 he provided consultancy services to the Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland (ACPOS) and the Police Complaints Commissioner for Scotland (PCCS).
*He is currently Chairing a Working Group on behalf of the Scottish Government – Police Reform Team, tasked with producing updated Conduct Regulations for the new Police Service of Scotland.

Fiona Smith
*Formally HR Director for NHS Orkney from 2004 to 2011.
*Professional dealings with the NHS Central Legal Office between November 2004 and February 2011.
*Currently providing associate consultancy services to KBAScotland, including being a member of consultant’s list for Development Partners Ltd providing business advice services for Highlands and Islands Enterprise.
*Partner in Sorton Partners, a business advice and consultancy partnership.
*Associate of Impact International, a training and development provider.

The SLCC’s full register of interests is available online HERE, and is worth comparing with previous versions, reported by Diary of Injustice here, More ‘jobs for the boys’ than action on ‘crooked lawyers’ : What it takes to be a Board Member at the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission.

An earlier report on the recruitment of some of the above board members, which compares their previous positions to those now listed above, is available here : One more ex-cop for anti-client Scottish Legal Complaints Commission as Justice Secretary hands out five year quango jobs at £212 per day