Monday, October 26, 2015

CONFLICTING INTERESTS: Solicitors’ husbands, wives, sons, daughters, cousins, friends, & employers revealed in register of interests of ‘independent’ Scottish Legal Complaints Commission

‘Independent’ regulator of solicitors reveals vested interests. SOLICITORS, solicitors’ families, solicitors’ colleagues, solicitors’ friends, and possibly even solicitors pets - are the best placed solicitors to investigate rogue solicitors – according to the register of interests of the ‘independent’ regulator of solicitors - Scottish Legal Complaints Commission (SLCC).

The latest register of interests released by the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission reveals many of it’s staff are, lawyers, former lawyers, friends of lawyers, family of lawyers, former business partners, former employees of the Law Society of Scotland and members of Law Society committees, and former members of other unidentified legal bodies with a vested interest.

Impartiality is not a strong point of self regulation.

And when it comes to self regulation of the legal profession, impartiality is, almost non existent.

In response to a Freedom of Information request, the SLCC released the following information on how connected its staff are to the legal profession:

Six members of staff are currently on the roll of solicitors with the Law Society of Scotland, of which one member of staff holds a practising certificate.

Seventeen members of staff have previously held positions in law firms in Scotland.

Seven members of staff have previously held positions with the Law Society of Scotland.

Ten members of staff have previously held positions with legal related bodies in Scotland.

The SLCC also released their equivalent of staff recusals on investigations - a database of measures required, or taken to mitigate conflicts of interest.

For consumers expecting a fair hearing by the SLCC of a complaint about a solicitor, the fact SLCC staff are having to recuse time & again in complaints investigations connected to law firms and the Law Society of Scotland makes grim reading..

A selection of examples of conflict of interest from the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission - Register of Recusals 2013-2015

Friend and former colleague - Could not investigate a complaint against any of these individuals

Acquaintance and former professional connection - Could not investigate a complaint against any of these individuals

Close family friend - Will advise if come across any files relating to these individuals

Personal friend - Will avoid getting involved with any complaints concerning the named people/organisations should these arise.

Personal friend and connection - Will avoid getting involved with any complaints concerning the named people/organisations should these arise

University and subsequent music activities - Will avoid getting involved with any complaints concerning the named people/organisations should these arise.

Previous employers - Will avoid getting involved with any complaints/mediations concerning the organisation should these arise

Worked for []  from August 2Qu3 until January 2004 - Should not deal with any complaint against

Involved in an action where were the instructed solicitors - Not to deal with investigation of complaints relating to this firm

Currently a client of the firm - Line manager will not allocate any complaints against the firm to

daughter - will not deal directly with cases or collection of levies etc

Son in-law - will not deal directly with cases or collection of levies etc

Cousin - will not deal directly with cases or collection of levies etc

Cousin-in-law - will not deal directly with cases or collection of levies etc

Niece - Not to deal with investigation of complaints relating to this firm

Wife - avoid any involvement of any kind in outstanding complaint and no discussion of complaint with colleagues

Wife's employers - avoid any involvement of any kind and no discussion of any arising complaints with colleagues

Personal friend and solicitor - Will not deal with any complaint associated to any of the above

Niece's husband - Will not deal with any complaint associated to any of the above

Cousin - Will not deal with any complaint associated to any of the above

Husband - Complaints involving the parties will not be allocated to her.

Husband's stables - Complaints involving the parties will not be allocated to her.

Acted for opponent in litigation - Not to deal with investigation of complaints relating to this firm

Senior partners are former colleagues - Not to deal with investigation of complaints relating to this firm

Personal friendship with partners and formerly advised on employment matters - Not to deal with investigation of complaints relating to this firm

Client Relations partner was on Client Relations Committee I ran at Law Society - Will not investigate complaints instigated by or made against firms outlined.

[] was a party to a mediation I managed at Edinburgh Sheriff Court - I have advised both and the practitioner that I will not be the mediator for this complaint.

Personal solicitor and LSS Convenor - No complaints to be allocated to

Personal solicitor and LSS Committee Member - No complaints to be allocated to

Family member is senior partner - Discussed with and no files from the above firms will be allocated to me. Agreed any files from these firms allocated to me in error will be passed back to for re-allocation. Agreed to ensure that if carrying out holiday/sickness cover - not to deal with complaints files against these firms and let know so they can be re-allocated

Traineeship with firm, still in contact, use as personal solicitors sometimes - Will not investigate complaints instigated by or made against firms outlined.

Worked for this firm - Will not investigate complaints instigated by or made against firms outlined.

Best friend works for this small firm - Will not investigate complaints instigated by or made against firms outlined.

Was the convenor - of my Committee for 2 years as LSS - Will not investigate complaints instigated by or made against firms outlined.

Was on my -  Committee at LSS for 2 years and Convenor when required - Will not investigate complaints instigated by or made against firms outlined.

[] is the tutor of my Open University course - Agreed with line manager that 1 will not deal with any complaints about which may be received by the SLCC

I  have instructed the solicitor on a  couple of occasions to carry out work on my behalf - Could not investigate a complaint against any of these individuals

Still expecting a fair hearing at the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission ?

Well, now you have read how recusals work at the SLCC, those of you who are in the unenviable position of making a complaint to the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission now know to ask if investigators or staff dealing with your case have any conflicts of interest.

You can then ask for the details of those conflicts – in writing -  just to keep things even, and … you know … ‘independent’.

And, don't forget, earlier this year, the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission appointed a new Chief Executive – a former employee of eleven years with the Law Society of Scotland.

Today, the SLCC still claim to be independent. Just, not very independent.

38 comments:

Anonymous said...

What a complete and utter SHAM!

Anonymous said...

How the hell do they get away with this?!

Anonymous said...

I just realised how to read the documents by clicking on the picture and I see there are 8 pages containing lots of cannot investigate because known to or whoever.

This cannot be above board surely this is total dishonesty?

It is just plain mad to allow people with such close relationships to lawyers to be part of some "independent" regulator that is anything BUT independent.

Anonymous said...

I dont believe they will tell complainers about conflicts of interest,they only handed it over to you because you are the only one keeping them in check

Anonymous said...

"Family member is senior partner - Discussed with and no files from the above firms will be allocated to me. Agreed any files from these firms allocated to me in error will be passed back to for re-allocation. Agreed to ensure that if carrying out holiday/sickness cover - not to deal with complaints files against these firms and let know so they can be re-allocated"

Just wait a minute there - investigation already compromised

Anonymous said...

Sounds like the SNP's version of an independent Scotland controlled by family friends cousins kids and so on of the party!

Anonymous said...

and all made legal by the Law Society of Scotland!

Anonymous said...

Am I right in saying the SLCC was created in 2008/09.
If so why no mention of them in the Michelle Thomson property case with Christopher Hales?

I checked through the ssdt report on Hales and cant find any mention of the SLCC whatsoever.If they have been there all this time and Hales was heard in 2011 why no reference to the SLCC?

Really weird.Looks like this SLCC were either sidestepped or kept out of the complaint against Hales.Very fishy.

Anonymous said...

I am stuck with a complaint they keep throwing back at me and trying to get me to change the wording and drop parts of the complaint the slcc is a vile outfit to deal with they are all about saving lawyers and we all know why because mummy and daddy lawyer gets to rip you off then their friends and family go to work at the slcc and stop all the complaints

Anonymous said...

looks like the cops are at it too although cops not bold enough to stick their own wives kids and cousins on it

http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/13648676.Revealed__the_police_watchdogs_with_close_ties_to_the_police/

Paul Hutcheon, Investigations Editor / Saturday 5 September 2015 / News

NEARLY 75% of the senior investigators on the quango tasked with probing complaints against police officers are ex-police, it can be revealed.

According to the body’s website, the PIRC is “an independent organisation not connected to the police”.

However, statistics obtained by this newspaper show close ties between the PIRC and the police service.

Of the 27 investigators responsible for dealing with PIRC cases, 15 used to be police officers.

Of the 11 individuals who are in senior positions, eight are ex-police - around 73%.

The two key individuals overseeing and investigating the Bayoh case are former senior officers with a link to the service spanning over fifty years.

John Mitchell, the director of investigations, is a one-time detective chief superintendent and former head of CID at Strathclyde Police.

John McSporran, a key member of the Bayoh case team, retired from Strathclyde Police in 2012 after 30 years service.

A spokesman for the PIRC said: “When the decision was made to set up the PIRC, it was important that an experienced team was put together to face the various challenges they may encounter.

“Staff were selected from a variety of backgrounds - including the police, fire service and military amongst others - for their skills in dealing with situations such as deaths in custody, crime-scene management and providing family liaison support.

“Since the inception of the PIRC, a trainee programme was established to recruit staff with no previous investigatory experience and provide them with the necessary skills."

HALF of the lead inspectors in the watchdog set up to provide “independent scrutiny” of the single force are former police officers themselves.

The remit of Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland (HMICS) is to investigate the “state, effectiveness and efficiency” of both Police Scotland and the Scottish Police Authority.

It is funded entirely by ministers to the tune of around £1.1m and is based in the Scottish Government headquarters at St. Andrew’s House.

However, although HMICS is tasked with probing the police service, its staffing arrangements cast doubt on its genuine independence from the force.

The current Inspector of Constabulary, Derek Penman, became a police officer in 1984 before rising to become deputy chief constable and then temporary chief constable of Central Scotland police.

In January 2013, he was appointed as an assistant chief constable of Police Scotland.

Andy Cowie, the assistant Inspector, joined HMICS on secondment from the police service as an assistant chief constable and has around 25 years policing experience.

Three of the six lead inspectors listed on the watchdog website are also ex-police: Frank Gallop, an ex-superintendent with Northumbria Police; Brian Plastow, a former Chief Superintendent; and former Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency deputy director Stephen Whitelock.

Anonymous said...

All the names of the lawyers law firms and slcc employees caught up in these so-called recusals must be published.
You already forced the judges to publish a recusals register with their names in it so why not the slcc too.They are not special and do not deserve to hide behind anonymity.
Keep up the good work.

Anonymous said...

Funny I thought this kind of thing didnt happen in Scotland and the word independent meant exactly what it said on the tin.

Obviously not.Just a lot of talk and jobs for the boys and girls.

Anonymous said...

So much for the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission being a breath of fresh air and all change from the Law Society.

A friend of mine was at the opening.He told me how speakers hailed it as a complete break from the past.Your name came up in the usual terms.

Little doubt all present hate your guts but everyone knew your name and did their best to talk inquiring minds out of reading your blog.Says a lot on it's own.

Anonymous said...

I wonder how people with cases at this complaints commission feel now after reading this??
No real chance of anyone getting a fair hearing and no one should be surprised when their complaint is kicked out the door

Anonymous said...

One important point -

Given the SLCC are heavily compromised with links to the legal profession this does highlight the lack of detail and links in the judicial recusals you earlier reported.

I hope the Petitions committee read this and now realise the extent of gaps in the judicial recusals Gill handed them as a face saver.

It is impossible to have the main legal regulator caught up in professional social and family links to the legal profession and this not spill over into the courtroom.

Anonymous said...

Reading your back catalog I discovered the SLCC are paid about £3 million from lawyers every year so what we have here is an quango full of lawyers families and friends who are scooping up an extra 3 million quid from client to pay for their own jollies.

Whoever dreamed up the SLCC has cost a lot of clients and taxpayers a lot of money.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the info no wonder my complaint is taking over a year oh and the mediation system is a complete fit up they have used it to delay looking at my complaint

Anonymous said...

replying to 26 October 2015 at 20:40

Several complaints currently taken out of SLCC hands mostly due to fears press will obtain details.

Additional cases similar to the one in your comment involving potential mortgage fraud.Another was dropped linking to a certain politician.Dig and you shall find more.

Why did LJ brief against PC after the press conference on MT?
Worried someone might actually listen?Its not like four years of LSoS do nothing needs to be investigated..

Justice Diary said...

@ 26 October 2015 at 18:14

Clients making complaints to the SLCC should be able to ask for this information and should do so in writing, with a request for a written response.

@ 26 October 2015 at 20:40

Yes, the SLCC was created in 2008 as a result of the Legal Profession & Legal Aid (Scotland) Act 2007.

@ 26 October 2015 at 21:56

A good idea. The SLCC maintaining a regularly updated register of recuals along with names of law firms involved would be of help to clients put in the position of making complaints about poor legal services.

@ 26 October 2015 at 23:27

Comes with the territory ... those with the most to hide have the least love of transparency and a free press.

@ 27 October 2015 at 09:21

Good points and, correct.

@ 27 October 2015 at 11:49

Yes, around £3m a year since 2008 plus at least £2m from the Scottish Government in public funds .. makes around £23m cost to all clients of Scottish solicitors and taxpayers ... and the SLCC is run by the legal profession.

No one can be congratulated over such a wasteful quango gathering of legal vested interests.

@ 27 October 2015 at 13:50

Send in some details regarding your case ...

@ 27 October 2015 at 14:57

True, the SLCC may be populated by lawyers interests however there are complaints being actively kept away from it ... more details please.


*Lastly, a note to several unpublished comments.

Details of certain unpublished comments referring to cases and identities are noted and will be looked into.

All material sent in will be treated in the strictest confidence until such time as those supplying such material give permission for publication.

**Certain comments which repost others are not published according to comment rules.

Anonymous said...

We get.The SLCC is as crooked and riddled with lawyers just like Law Society!

Whoever created this monster should be forced to repay the £23 million it has cost everyone.What an absolute scandal.

Anonymous said...

a horrible experience dealing with the slcc I am sure they set it up this way to make life as difficult as possible for anyone having to complain about their lawyer

a truly nasty experience you are honestly better staying away from lawyers in the first place and not believing all their junk about having to write a will with a lawyer and all that nonsense
just a license to rip people off and get away with it

Anonymous said...

Very interesting comments here on the Christopher Hales Michelle Thomson case.Just remember folks when lawyers transact properties there are usually more than one so the whole thing cannot be pinned on Hales.

Anonymous said...

sure cant beat the Scots for stabbing their own in the back huh

Anonymous said...

There is no independent regulation of the legal profession - or for that matter the judiciary - in Scotland, as DOI has courageously shown its readers. Instead we have the tragic farce clearly outlined in this latest report......................and don't hold your breath waiting for the SNP to change it!

Anonymous said...

I see Simpson and Marwick - whose dealings DOI has frequently reported on - have re-branded themselves and now go by the name of Clyde and Co, probably an attempt to cast off their very bad, and very well deserved, reputation.

A name to keep an eye on and a company to avoid if you have any sense.

Anonymous said...

Interesting info on Clyde & Co - aka Simpson & Marwick at;

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clyde_%26_Co

No prizes for guessing that their main area of business is Insurance and;

"Clyde & Co was founded by Richard Arthur Clyde. He came from a distinguished legal family, which in the last century has produced two Lords President of the Court of Session in Scotland. Richard Clyde's nephew, the late Lord Clyde of Briglands, was a Lord of Appeal in Ordinary from 1996 to 2001."

Anonymous said...

If the ex cops working for the Police regulator are named then why not the people who work at the slcc?

Very unfair.Of course we all know why this is now you revealed they are all family members friends and business acquaintances of lawyers!

Totally disgusting no wonder lawyers get away with anything and also the judges are exactly the same

Diary of Injustice said...

@ 28 27 October 2015 at 17:48

A good idea, you can start with the Law Society of Scotland, who co-opted the LPLA Bill during it's passage through the Scottish Parliament in 2006, and then work back to those who wallowed in their self congratulation of a job well done.

The true cost of the SLCC must be well over £30m, and then here are all the ruined finances & lives of clients ruined by a purposely designed system of weak self regulation run by relatives of solicitors.

@ 27 October 2015 at 22:55

True, although with levels of dishonesty at the Law Society of Scotland & Scottish Solicitors Discipline Tribunal we will never know.

Noticeably the Hales case has gone quiet since the frenzied meetings at the Law Society... doubtless now being investigated with instructions to put the case to bed.

@ 28 October 2015 at 11:40

Good point, and yes all regulators should identify their staff.

If nothing to fear nothing to hide ...

Anonymous said...

Given evidence the SLCC is such a stitch up with lawyers and their wives,kids and so on it is probable the tribunals are probably just as infected with the same kinds of conflicts of interest.

Wholesale reform needed and as you say all who work for regulators must be identified and their interests.

Anonymous said...

The true register will be triple what they released and who is to know when they go home at night and start phoning round their families in the legal profession telling them of complaints and accusations.

A complete disgrace.

Anonymous said...

What a stitch up - every angle covered it seems, and no-one with the power to change this completely unsatisfactory mess lifts a finger.

So much for 'Nikla' and the supposedly 'independent' SNP.

Anonymous said...

This level of arrangement down to children having contact on cases against their parents is almost impossible to achieve in any public department without someone becoming suspicious yet here we have it done with impunity and from what I read financial backing by your Scottish Government.

A model of corruption and conflicts of interest.

Anonymous said...

The comment drawing attention to the judiciary is spot on.Given the SLCC is heavily compromised with lawyers relatives friends colleagues the judiciary must be up to their necks in it.

I saw the other report you did on Lord Gill having to walk out of a court case because of his son.

Now we have a good comparison with the SLCC on recusals it is very suspicious only one senior judge recused due to a family connection.The rest of the recusal list looks like something someone dreamed up on a post-it.

Many questions for Lord Gill when he finally shows up at Holyrood.

Anonymous said...

Bloody outrageous.They are rigging complaints on an industrial scale and charging their victims for doing it

Anonymous said...

Stevenson was parachuted in to the SLCC after LSoS decided on a new Chief Exec.You will know the rest.

Diary of Injustice said...

@ 28 October 2015 at 22:35

Usually anything connected to self regulation of whatever profession is filled with vested interests and powerful defence unions however the Law Society of Scotland have taken regulation rigging to the max.

@ 29 October 2015 at 11:15

Good points ... The case of Lord Gill recusing due to the sudden appearance of his son raises a lot more questions than answers ... possibly one of the reasons why the Judicial Office are shielding names of those involved in cases where recusals of judges are occurring.

@ 29 October 2015 at 20:55

Yes, quite a back story to this, perhaps one day ...

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the tip.We are waiting on the SLCC and Law Society deciding what to do about our complaint 6 months on no further forward due to everyone looking after their own friends.

Anonymous said...

This is not fair.I have a complaint being investigated by the slcc and never once did they tell me anything about their interests.

Must be impossible to separate their people from cases with all this going on.