Monday, October 02, 2017

LEGAL REGULATION PROBE: Holyrood's Public Petitions Committee seek views on replacing Scotland’s ‘lawyer-lawyer’ regulation - with 'UK style' fully independent regulation of solicitors & legal services

MSPs seek views on reform of legal regulation. TEN YEARS after the contentious passage of the Legal Profession & Legal Aid (Scotland) Act 2007 - which saw the creation of the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission (SLCC) as the lawyer-lawyer led regulator of legal services - MSPs are to seek views on creating a fully independent non-lawyer regulator of Scots legal services.

Two petitions calling for a complete reform of legal services regulation in Scotland have been debated by members of the Scottish Parliament’s Public Petitions Committee.

MSPs have now decided to call for views on bringing Scotland into line with the rest of the UK – where a much greater independent level of legal regulation exists compared to the current Law Society of Scotland & SLCC pro-lawyer regulation model.

Petition 1660 calls on the Scottish Parliament to urge the Scottish Government to review the operation of the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission with a view to making the process of legal complaints more transparent and independent.

Petition 1661 calls on the Scottish Parliament to urge the Scottish Government to reform and amend the regulation of complaints about the legal profession in Scotland, which is currently delegated to the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission, by creating a new independent regulator of legal services with powers equivalent to the Solicitors Regulation Authority, Legal Ombudsman, Bar Standards Board and Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal which serve consumers and clients of legal service providers in England and Wales.

The move by MSPs comes after the Scottish Government announced a ‘review’ of legal services regulation in Scotland, back in April 2017.

However, the Scottish Government ‘review’ – will not report back until the end of 2018 and with non binding recommendations – and has come in for significant criticism after it was found there was only one consumer related interest among the legal related membership.

When the review was announced earlier this year, former Cabinet Minister & SNP MSP Alex Neil said the review remit should also include judges.

Alex Neil said: I hope it produces radical and robust proposals. I also hope it covers the judiciary as well as lawyers.”

Mr Neil also called for greater fairness in the panel’s membership, to include members from outside the legal establishment.

Mr Neil added: I hope the membership of this review panel will be expanded to get a better balance between lawyers and non-lawyers”

A full report on the Scottish Government’s review of legal services can be found here: REGULATED REVIEW: Scottish Government panel to look at self regulation of lawyers - Former Cabinet Minister calls for review to include judiciary, and panel membership to strike ‘better balance between lawyers & non-lawyers’

After members discussed the two petitions, the Petitions Committee agreed to join these petitions together for future consideration on the basis that they raise similar issues.

The Committee also agreed to write to the Scottish Government, the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission, the Law Society of Scotland, the Faculty of Advocates, Scottish Solicitors' Discipline Tribunal, Citizens Advice Scotland and the Judicial Complaints Reviewer.

Regulation of legal profession reform - Public Petitions Committee 21 September 2017

Legal Profession (Regulation) (PE1660 & PE1661)

The Convener: The next two new petitions are PE1660 by Bill Tait and PE1661 by Melanie Collins, both of which raise similar issues in relation to the current system for complaints about legal services in Scotland. Members have a copy of the petitions and the respective SPICe briefings.

PE1660 calls on the Scottish Parliament to urge the Scottish Government to review the operation of the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission to make the process of legal complaints more transparent and independent. PE1661 calls on the Scottish Parliament to urge the Scottish Government to reform and amend the regulation of complaints about the legal profession in Scotland, which is currently delegated to the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission, by creating a new independent regulator of legal services with powers equivalent to the Solicitors Regulation Authority, the Legal Ombudsman, the Bar Standards Board and the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal, all of which serve consumers and clients of legal service providers in England and Wales.

Do members have any comments or suggestions for action on the petition?

Michelle Ballantyne: First of all, I note that there is a review under way. However, although it was launched in April, it is not due to report until the end of next year, which seems an awfully long time.

I am concerned about a turkeys voting for Christmas arrangement with regard to oversight of this matter. There needs to be some clear water between lawyers and those who review them, and this feels a bit close for comfort. We should check where the review is going and what it is looking at, because if it has been launched, the question is whether we need to be doing something parallel alongside it.

Angus MacDonald: Both petitions are extremely timely. Bill Tait and Melanie Collins have highlighted serious issues with regard to the legal profession and the way in which the SLCC operates in respect of complaints. I agree with Melanie Collins that there is a strong argument in favour of creating a new independent regulator of legal services, and I agree with Bill Tait’s call to make the process of legal complaints more transparent and independent.

In recent years, we have seen a degree of conflict between the SLCC and the Law Society of Scotland over the operation of the complaints system. I am sure that I was not the only MSP to receive representations from the Law Society earlier this year, stating frustration and disappointment at the increase in the SLCC levy to be paid by solicitors. It also stated that the complaints system was slow, complex, cumbersome and expensive. There is no doubt in my mind that this is the right time to look at this issue.

As Michelle Ballantyne has mentioned, the Scottish Government has acknowledged that the current process for people wishing to make complaints about their solicitor is too slow and complex, so I was certainly pleased to see the Scottish Government launch its independent review of the regulation. However, I take on board Michelle Ballantyne’s point about the review not being due to report back until the end of 2018; the period seems quite lengthy, but clearly, we can contact the Government for clarification. Given the similarity of the two petitions, there is a strong argument for joining them together to help move them forward.

The Convener: First of all, does the committee agree to join the petitions together? It seems to me that they deal with the same issues.

Members indicated agreement.

Brian Whittle: Am I correct in thinking that the Law Society called for a change and was rebuffed?

Angus MacDonald: I am not entirely sure—it certainly was not happy.

Rona Mackay: It was about the levy. It was not happy with some of the SLCC’s operation, but, as far as I am aware, it has not formally called for a change.

Brian Whittle: I thought that it was investigating this very point and was rebuffed. I might be wrong.

The Convener: It would be worth getting it clear in our own heads where all of this stands. We can obviously ask for that information.

The suggestion is that we write to the Scottish Government about the review’s timescale and remit, and I think that we should write to the relevant stakeholder bodies to ask about what issues they have. It does not feel that long since the legislation was passed, so it would be a natural time to look at and reflect on whether it has been effective and what the alternatives might be. My sense is that, when the legislation went through Parliament, we wrestled with the options—it did not go through without debate. Perhaps we should look at whether this is a bedding-in issue or an actual structural problem and whether, as the petitioner suggests, the issue needs to be revisited and a different kind of regulatory body put in place.

I think that we have agreed to write to the Scottish Government, the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission, the Law Society of Scotland and the Faculty of Advocates. Citizens Advice Scotland was mentioned, as was the Scottish Solicitors Discipline Tribunal. Are there any others?

Angus MacDonald: Would it be worth contacting the Judicial Complaints Reviewer? Although it deals with judicial complaints, as per the title, it would be good to get its view, if it has one. Of course, it is not compelled to reply.

The Convener: Do we agree to deal with both petitions in that way?

Members indicated agreement.

HOLYROOD BRIEFING: MSPs hear of differences between Scotland & UK on regulation of legal services:

Background (taken from the SPICe briefing)

Scotland – complaints against lawyers

4. The SLCC was set up by the Legal Profession and Legal Aid (Scotland) Act 2007 (the Act) to deal with complaints against legal practitioners (primarily solicitors or advocates) in Scotland.

5. It is an independent body whose Board is appointed by the Scottish Ministers in consultation with the Lord President of the Court of Session. It is supported by a management team and staff who carry out investigations.

6. The SLCC is funded by a levy paid by legal practitioners and is required to consult with the relevant professional bodies when setting its annual budget. A copy of the finalised budget has to be laid before the Scottish Parliament no later than 30 April in each year (the budget is not, however, subject to parliamentary approval).

7. The SLCC acts as the initial gateway for complaints. Unresolved complaints have to be made to it in the first instance. Complaints made directly to a professional body (e.g. the Law Society of Scotland (Law Society) or Faculty of Advocates (Faculty)) have to be forwarded by these bodies to the SLCC.

8. Once the SLCC has received a complaint, it assesses whether it is a:

1. Service complaint – i.e. related to the quality of work; or a

2. Conduct complaint –i.e. related to a legal practitioner’s fitness to carry out work and behaviour outside of business.

7. Cases often involve issues of both service and conduct, with the result that both the SLCC and professional bodies can investigate different aspects of the same complaint.

8. If the complaint, or part of the complaint, concerns inadequate professional service, the SLCC investigates following procedures laid down in its rules and the Act. The SLCC can ultimately:

• Award the complainer up to £20,000 for any loss, inconvenience or distress resulting from inadequate professional service.

• Require the relevant legal practices/practitioners to reduce fees, re-do work and rectify any mistakes at their own expense.

• Report the matter to the relevant professional body if the practitioner shows a lack of legal competence.

9. Decisions of the SLCC can be appealed to the Court of Session.

10. If the complaint, or part of the complaint, concerns the conduct of a legal practitioner, the SLCC passes it on to the relevant professional body to investigate. The SLCC is not permitted to investigate conduct complaints, but it can investigate the way these have been handled by the relevant professional organisation (known as a handling complaint).

11. The Law Society is able to impose sanctions on solicitors whose conduct has been “unsatisfactory” and can prosecute solicitors before the Scottish Solicitors Discipline Tribunal (SSDT) where behaviour amounts to professional misconduct. The maximum compensation payable to a complainer is £5,000. In the most serious cases the SSDT can suspend a solicitor’s practising certificate or strike them from the roll of solicitors.

12. The Faculty deals with conduct complaints through a Complaints Committee comprising an equal number of advocates and lay members. Its decisions can be appealed to the Faculty of Advocates Disciplinary Tribunal – chaired by a retired senior judge and whose members include advocates and lay persons. In September 2016 the SLCC published a report which audited the operation of the Facultys investigation and disciplinary processes.

13. For further details on the complaints system see:

• The SLCC’s overview of the process for dealing with service and conduct complaints.

The Law Societys overview of how it deals with conduct complaints,

The Facultys overview of how it administers conduct complaints

14. In recent years there has been a degree of conflict between the SLCC and the Law Society over the operation of the complaints system. For example, in December 2016, the Law Society announced that it had commenced legal action against the SLCC over the way in which it categorises complaints as service complaints or conduct complaints. In addition, in April 2017 the Law Society noted in a press release that it was “frustrated and disappointed” about the increase in the SLCC levy to be paid by solicitors. The press release also referred to the complaints system as being, “slow, complex, cumbersome and expensive.”

England & Wales – complaints against lawyers

15. In England & Wales complaints about poor service against legal practitioners are dealt with by the Legal Ombudsman. Issues of professional misconduct are referred to the relevant “approved regulator” – i.e. the Bar Standards Authority (for barristers) and the Solicitors Regulation Authority (for solicitors), who can take disciplinary action. For details see the House of Commons Librarys briefing on complaints against solicitors and other lawyers.

Scottish Parliament Action

16. In session 4, the SLCC submitted a letter to the Scottish Parliament’s Justice Committee in which it argued that a review of the complaints procedure was needed. In response, the Justice Committee wrote to the Cabinet Secretary for Justice and received a response dated 31 October 2012 indicating that the SLCC and Law Society were, “developing a consensual approach to reach an agreement on the key improvements required.” Regulations amending the powers and duties of the SLCC were subsequently scrutinised by the Justice Committee, which recommended their approval by the Parliament (approval was granted on 13 August 2014).

17. The adequacy of the complaints system has also been raised in the current parliamentary session (see for example Motion S5M-05079 lodged by Douglas Ross MSP on 6 April 2017).

The motion lodged by Douglas Ross, who is now an MP at Westminster read:

Motion S5M-05079: Douglas Ross, Highlands and Islands, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 06/04/2017

SLCC's Proposed Levy Increase of 12.5%

That the Parliament recognises the concerns of solicitors and advocates following the announcement that the annual levy on legal practitioners to the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission (SLCC) is set to rise by 12.5%; understands that the SLCC has argued that recent increases in the number of complaints received against solicitors requires a commensurate increase in its budget; believes that some solicitors and advocates consider that these costs could be absorbed by the SLCC without a rise in the levy; understands that the Law Society of Scotland submitted a paper to the SLCC in response to the plans, but that its proposals were rejected and the increase was maintained; recognises the reported concerns among legal practitioners that the levy can be adjusted by any amount without a mechanism to effectively challenge it; acknowledges what it sees as the risk that the increase in the levy could be passed on to consumers, and calls on the SLCC to carefully consider the feedback that it has received from solicitors, advocates and the Law Society of Scotland.

Supported by: Dean Lockhart, Alexander Stewart, John Lamont, Alison Harris, Peter Chapman, Liz Smith, Gordon Lindhurst R, Edward Mountain, Donald Cameron R, Liam Kerr R, Miles Briggs, Murdo Fraser R, Adam Tomkins, John Scott, Margaret Mitchell, Rachael Hamilton R, Jackson Carlaw, Annie Wells, Jeremy Balfour, Ross Thomson, Brian Whittle, Jamie Greene, Alexander Burnett, Bill Bowman, Maurice Golden

Scottish Government Action

18. On 25 April 2017, the Scottish Government announced the launch of an independent review of the regulation of legal services in Scotland including the complaints system. According to the Scottish Government, the review

“…follows concerns that the current legislative framework is not fit for purpose and has not kept up with developments in the legal services market. There are also worries that the current processes for people wishing to make complaints about their solicitor are too slow and too complex.”

19. The review is expected to report to Scottish Ministers by the end of 2018.

FLAWED LEGAL SERVICES REVIEW – How Scottish Government’s attempt at independent review of lawyers ended up back in the hands of … lawyers:

In April 2017, the Scottish Government announced an ‘independent’ review into how lawyers regulate their own colleagues – with a remit to report back by the end of 2018.

The move by Scottish Minsters, coming after discussions with the Law Society of Scotland - is intended to answer concerns  amid rising numbers of complaints about poor legal services and the diminishing status of Scotland’s legal services sector,

However, former Cabinet Minister Alex Neil MSP (SNP Airdrie and Shotts) said the review should include judges and the membership of the review team should be expanded to balance up the panel’s current top heavy legal interests membership.

Mr Neil recently branded the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission (SLCC)  “a toothless waste of time” – after the legal services regulator failed to act in a high profile case involving a senior QC caught up in a cash payments scandal.

The review, led by NHS 24 chair Esther Roberton, is intended to make recommendations to modernise laws underpinning the legal profession’s current regulatory system including how complaints are handled.

This follows concerns that the current legislative framework is not fit for purpose and has not kept up with developments in the legal services market. There are also worries that the current processes for people wishing to make complaints about their solicitor are too slow and too complex.

However, doubts about the impartiality of the panel have been raised after the announcement by Legal Affairs Minister Annabelle Ewing revealed a top-heavy compliment of figures from the legal establishment who are keen on protecting solicitors’ self regulation against any move to increase consumer protection by way of independent regulation.

The list of panel members includes:

*Two former Presidents of the Law Society of Scotland;

* The current Chief Executive of the pro-lawyer Scottish Legal Complaints Commission;

* An outgoing Scottish Public Services Ombudsman widely criticised for ineptitude;

* The current chair of the Scottish Solicitors Discipline Tribunal (SSDT) – who struck off only six solicitors last year;

* The chair of a law firm whose partners have regularly appeared before the SSDT;

* A QC from an advocates stable where colleagues have been linked to a cash payments scandal;

* A former Crown Office Prosecutor & QC linked to events in the David Goodwillie rape case – where the victim was forced to sue her assailant through the civil courts after the Lord Advocate refused to prosecute the footballer.

Announcing the review, Legal Affairs Minister Annabel Ewing said: “Members of the public must be able to have confidence in the service they get from their solicitor. While this happens most of the time, I have been listening carefully to concerns that the current regulatory system in Scotland may leave consumers exposed and does not adequately address complaints.”

The latest move by Scottish Ministers to reform self regulation of solicitors and advocates comes years after a move in England & Wales to more robust independent regulation of legal services - which has left Scots consumers & clients at a clear disadvantage.

And while clients in the rest of the UK have much more of a chance to obtain redress against legal professionals who consistently provide poor legal services – and see their lawyers named and shamed in public by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) and Legal Ombudsman (LeO).

Review should include judiciary:

Scotland’s judges have earned themselves widespread criticism and condemnation at Holyrood and from the Judicial Complaints Reviewer (JCR) – after top judges failed to address complaints and become more transparent and accountable like other branches of Government.

Ongoing efforts by the Scottish Parliament’s Public Petitions Committee to create a register of judges’ interests have been flustered by two Lord Presidents – Lord Gill & current top judge Lord Carloway.

The proposal to bring greater transparency to Scotland’s judiciary - Petition PE1458: Register of Interests for members of Scotland's judiciary - first debated at the Scottish Parliament’s Public Petitions Committee in January 2013 – calls for the creation of a publicly available register of judicial interests – containing information on judges’ backgrounds, figures relating to personal wealth, undeclared earnings, business & family connections inside & outside of the legal profession, membership of organisations, property and land, offshore investments, hospitality, details on recusals and other information routinely lodged in registers of interest across all walks of public life in the UK and around the world.

The current review could include the judiciary in terms of how judges regulate themselves, however the Scottish Parliament should be left to get on with the task of creating a register of judges’ interests – given the five years of work already undertaken by MSPs on the thorny question of judicial declarations.

REVIEW THE REVIEW: Third attempt at reforming biased system of solicitors self regulation.

The latest review of the way lawyers regulate themselves marks the third attempt at addressing problems created by Scotland’s pro-lawyer system of self regulation, where lawyers write the rules, and look after their own.

In 2001, the Scottish Parliament’s Justice 1 Committee, under the Convenership of Christine Grahame MSP, met to consider evidence in relation to calls to reform regulation of the legal profession.

The inquiry, gained by the late, widely respected MSP, Phil Gallie, heard evidence in relation to how complaints were investigated by the legal profession.

However, Mr Gallie was replaced by Lord James Douglas Hamilton, and the Committee eventually concluded not to amend how the Law Society regulated Scottish solicitors.

A second, more substantive attempt to reform regulation of the legal profession came about in 2006, with the Scottish Parliament’s then Justice 2 Committee taking on consideration of the proposed Legal Profession & Legal Aid (Scotland) Act, which received Royal Assent in 2007.

The LPLA Act led to the creation of the now widely derided Scottish Legal Complaints Commission – once touted as an ‘independent’ solution to handing complaints against solicitors and advocates.

A mere nine years after the creation of the SLCC in 2008, the badly run legal quango, often itself the subject of scandal, charges of incompetence and downright bias – has become as much a threat to consumer protection as the Law Society itself was in the days when complaints were handled at the Law Society’s former HQ in Drumsheugh Gardens, Edinburgh.

Regulating the legal profession: Usual suspects selected by legal profession to carry out independent review on regulation of solicitors:

The independent review of the regulation of legal services in Scotland is expected to consult widely with stakeholders and report to Scottish ministers by the end of 2018.

The independent chair of the review is Esther Roberton, current chair of NHS 24. Ms Roberton has extensive senior leadership experience in the NHS and other areas of public life.  She is also currently a board member of the Scottish Ambulance Service (2014-18).  She was chair of SACRO (2010-2014) and until recently also sat on the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service Audit and Risk Committee (COPFS ARC).

The review panel have confirmed their participation as follows:

•      Christine McLintock - immediate past president Law Society of Scotland
•      Alistair Morris - chief executive of the management board, Pagan Osborne (Law Society of Scotland)
•      Laura Dunlop QC - Hastie Stables (Faculty of Advocates)
•      Derek Ogg QC - MacKinnon Advocates (Faculty of Advocates)
•      Neil Stevenson – chief executive of the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission
•      Nicholas Whyte – chair of Scottish Solicitors’ Discipline Tribunal
•      Ray Macfarlane –  chair of the Scottish Legal Aid Board
•      Jim Martin – outgoing Scottish Public Services Ombudsman
•      Dr Dame Denise Coia – chair of Healthcare Improvement Scotland
•      Prof Lorne Crerar - chairman, Harper Macleod LLP
•      Prof Russel Griggs - chair of the Scottish Government’s Independent Regulatory Review Group
•      Trisha McAuley OBE - independent consumer expert

The Scottish Government’s review of legal services can be found here: REGULATED REVIEW: Scottish Government panel to look at self regulation of lawyers - Former Cabinet Minister calls for review to include judiciary, and panel membership to strike ‘better balance between lawyers & non-lawyers’


Anonymous said...

Well this is a very thorough start to the week,Peter!

The Law Society and SLCC were hoping you missed this one.

Good to see you giving them airtime!

Anonymous said...

Thanks Peter I was not aware of this.

I see from the video clip MSPs are going to write to the Law Society and others.

Can anyone else put in a submission or a view on this petition and regulation of solicitors as things currently stand?

Diary of Injustice said...

@ 2 October 2017 at 13:46

Now the petitions have been aired and the Committee has decided to call for views, members of the public can make a submission to the Petitions Committee.

Anonymous said...

Yes very good Peter thanks and I hope people do something and write in to the msps instead of whimpering all the time they cannot get anywhere with the slcc!

Anonymous said...

Peter, how can those abused by the combined failures of Pursuer Panel Solicitors and Scottish Counsel make submissions to the Petitions Committee without the threat of being sued by those 'legal professionals' complained of?
The instance I refer to dates back to May-August 2008 against a flawed and professionally negligent conveyance solicitor and missives, and 3 legal firms promised to obtain a professional conveyance expert report from 2008 to as recent as 2016, and no expert conveyance opinion or report was ever obtained.
The problem was further compounded by the fact that we had legal expenses insurance and we have had to follow and agree with that solicitors opinion, and the opinion has been that an independent expert conveyance opinion be obtained, but never was.
We have had 5 legal firms look at this from 2008 to March 2017 and all have charged the legal insurers some considerable fees but all to no avail, two of those were Pursuer Panel solicitors and another firm is one which is included in the 2018 review panel.
It is likely that the proverbial shall soon hit the fan as the conveyance issue centres around known asbestos in circa 2500 'Weir Quality' properties still remaining and built between 1947-1950 and previously owned by Scottish Special Housing Association (SSHA) and Scottish Homes since 1976, and both were Scottish Office departments.
The present Housing Minister has been as useful as a skunk deodorant and is disinterested about owners/tenants being exposed to known asbestos in the heart of these properties.
The case I refer to exemplifies the self protection of the entire Scottish legal profession and also the sympathy and potential bias that the Scottish Judiciary have towards their cohorts, that is solicitors, solicitor-advocates and advocates and extends to the SLCC and the so called professional regulatory bodies and the SSDT.
The level of discussion, understanding and professionalism by this Scottish Petitions Committee is a gross embarrassment to Scotland and the rest of the UK and this is most pertinent in the handling of Peter's own petition and the length of time that has been running.
Keep up the excellent work Peter and I may have to contact you with regards to exposing the 9 year farce in Scottish legal misrepresentation since 2008. Note that I have never had any such problems with legal professionals in England other than our legal expenses 'solicitors' who do not understand that Scots law is different from that of England & Wales.
I do seem to recall that the chair of this new review panel extolled the virtues of the legal sector in Scotland and claims of world wide respect thereof. Having worked extensively overseas with multinational solicitors, I have never had any solicitor or counsel make praise or reference to the Scottish legal system. The chair of this new review panel is being force fed sound bites of the type that Trump and Kim Jong-un would be most impressed by. This does not bode well for the output of this review panel and its existing membership, ALL IS DOOMED.

Anonymous said...

About tine too and what are they playing at everyone knows the system is loaded against clients and anyone who makes a complaint about their lawyer.Why should lawyers be allowed to regulate themselves after all this time!

Diary of Injustice said...

To those with an interest in this debate and the Public Petitions Committee's consideration of the petitions, it is advisable to make your views known to MSPs at the Scottish Parliament by way of direct contact with the Petitions Committee and if readers feel necessary, representations from their own MSPs to the Petitions Committee.

If you want to change something, make your voice heard.

Anonymous said...

Not a snoball's chance in hell I suppose of the contributors to the BBC programme being invited to appear before the Committee?

Anonymous said...

Let's hope the complaints process doesn't end up in its entirely back with the Law Society.

A properly and fully independent organisation - manned preferably by people from outside Scotland and certainly with absolutely no connection to its legal profession - should be appointed, and NOT have its 'wings clipped'....which is exactly what has long been the case with the role of the Judicial Complaints Reviewer.

Anonymous said...

Peter, I am anonymous as of 3 October 2017 at 01:36 and I thank you for allowing my post. I have/had communicated to the then Justice Secretary (MacAskill) and the local MSP/MP on a number of occasions and also Matheson thereof. I did so by email as I then have a record of all those communications and read receipts. Justice Secretaries are just not interested and neither are MSPs or MPs, or indeed Lord Presidents or Lord Justice General (Hamilton, Gill, Carloway). The power of both legal professions is so ingrained within the political elite as they have to use them when matters of Public Interest are brought before the courts. This is a direct conflict of interest in that the Government present legislation and subsequent thereof or any and all legislation they enact cannot be against the very legal profession that they subsequently and inherently depend upon. (Legislation is written by solicitors and advocates.)
This is evidenced by the very selective review panel chosen to review the present SLCC complaints system, which any objection thereof has to be raised in the INNER HOUSE OF THE COURT OF SESSION. That is an SLCC decision is deemed higher than a Sheriff (possibly QC) and an outer house senator of the college of judiciary, that is an ordinary Lord of justice (possibly QC), both with a greater understanding of the law than the panel of SLCC which determine decisions. The SLCC has to consult the Law Society of Scotland and the Faculty of Advocates, and their decision or biased opinion has far greater sway than Joleen Public's legitimate concern. They are all covered under the same policy insurers. How perverse!

Peter, with all due respect, MSPs are not interested in legal reform. How do the public make direct contact with the Petitions Committee, and what value does that give? What is the latest status on your own petition and is that something that Joe or Joleen Public can afford in the ordinary day to day life of just existence and not just ice of iceberg proportions or more likely fatberg proportions of fat cat SLAB (Public) funding.

Peter, on the review commission and the Petitions Committee, can you kindly provide a web link address to both so that our voice and written experience can be heard and recorded.
Peter, I believe and aver that my elderly disabled mother has been under the same breach of law society of Scotland rules and regulations and subsequent self protection mechanisms that are subsequently engaged to the detriment of the bonafide complainer.

Anonymous said...

In addition:
'Why should lawyers be allowed to regulate themselves after all this time!'3 October 2017 at 16:35. Because they can and that is what the present legislation says. If you or I wish to meet with the Justice Secretary that will not happen, if you are a member of the Law Society of Scotland or Faculty of Advocates that will happen. Similarly with any other branch of the legal system in Scotland. Peter says make your voice heard, but that is just a whisper amongst many other whispers, the collective whispers could not make a roar of sufficient potency to change. The more that things change, the more they stay the same, plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.

The COPFS and Police Scotland are inherently reluctant to investigate complaints against the legal profession members, why?. Because they rely upon them in every minute, hour, day, year of their own livelihood. And the legal profession are dependent upon on complaints submitted by the Police, COPFS, and others. Indeed, the Judiciary and their highly paid remuneration are dependent upon the COPFS, the Police and others for bringing cases before the courts.
That is, there is a self fulfilling prophecy that feeds all the 'justice' elements of the Scottish legal system, funded at immense Public cost, in which the Public are inherently and systemically excluded and secluded from public participation. The so called Petitions Committee have proven to be the three wise monkeys, covering ones eyes and seeing no evil; covering ones ears and hearing no evil; and covering one mouth and speaks no evil, all pertaining to the legal profession in Scotland and the acts of law thereof.

The Petitions Committee are frustrated by the 4th wise monkey, that is, do no evil. Do no evil to the legal profession that they have become dependent upon and addicted to.
Unfortunately the Opium of the masses has become the reliance on the addictive 'legal representation professionals' that is as a result of mass communication that 'you should consult a solicitor' and without any legal warning such as a pack of cigarettes, a pint of beer, or belt up, the expectation being that you 'belt up' with regards to complaints against the legal profession in Scotland, the 'regulators', the SLCC or else.

Regards to all who contribute.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said..." Not a snoball's chance in hell I suppose of the contributors to the BBC programme being invited to appear before the Committee? 4 October 2017 at 21:40"

Errm dont recommend this given antiquated cases beeb used.

Note no bbc follow up after LSS muzzled their investigations team.

Anyone notice all BBC Scotland exclusives since are solicitor based?
Each investigation or Reporting Scotland item has quietly angry solicitor speaking for mysterious clients looking for damages settlements.

A check on 'clients' often reveal individuals paid appearance fees by bbc and law firm.
Further checks reveal same individuals manufactured major points of their story and coached on their air-time by pr company employed law firm.
Coaching funded by Legal Aid via law firm.One for you Peter to look at.
Same law firm used, often begins with letter "T" previously worked for beeb.
Conflict of interest or what.

As any working journalist not living off license fee would say - dodgy.

Diary of Injustice said...

4 October 2017 at 23:37
4 October 2017 at 23:38

Noted however there is a valid SPPetitions call for views from interested parties.

Persons who have been affected by regulation of the legal profession should make a contribution if they want things to change, or are seeking assistance to remedy their own predicament.

@ 5 October 2017 at 18:30

Thanks for this ... partly explains issues currently looking into, please contact via the blog to discuss further.

Anonymous said...

The comment of 5 October 2017 at 18:30 refers to Lawyers Behaving Badly I take it?
This was little more than beeb saying we covered it end of.Much of it unfit for human consumption apart from the SSDT interview.Cockburn was very angry over the [cut down] excerpt.
Personally I prefer the expert view as in this blog.

Anonymous said...

Often thought bbc scotland too well scripted as some may say always the angle of auntie bbc knows best and we should trust the same people who are ripping us off.
Best way to avoid such useless info is to switch channels.

Anonymous said...

Wouldn't it be good if someone with sufficient knowledge of the law society's shady history with the disgraced insurer Marsh appeared before the committee and forced them to listen on camera to what everyone already knows - surely one of the main reasons why the legal profession has been allowed to long control the sham 'complaints system' the Scottish Public has been made to suffer for decades.

John Swinney would be the ideal candidate, but I forgetting, he suddenly went deaf and mute on this topic as soon as he was given a cabinet post.

Anonymous said...

The Committe should be required to watch the BBC programme 'Lawyers Behaving Badly' if it really wants to know how much 'respect' it has in the world outside of the little parish of Edinburgh.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the comment which advises using a non conflicting foreign regulator, but a fellow associate informed us that some legal firms in Scotland have been sending staff to Australia to introduce new techniques obviously on how to mislead their growing population & ultimately get away with it. In other words just what they do here.

Funny no news of any Australians coming here yet.

A.Lawyer said...

If I may respond to "Anonymous 5 October 2017 at 21:55"

"Lawyers behaving badly" is a waste of time to watch save about 8 minutes where the SSDT Chair makes a massive cock up and the three English QCs give their take on dishonesty.
Overall, however a poor attempt by the BBC to smear the legal profession with cases from the 1990s and dont forget the free trip to Italy.
There are thousands of complaints each year about solicitors so why did the beeb pick the oldest to screen when quite frankly there are much more compelling accounts of personal dissatisfaction with solicitors and the Law Society.
Has it escaped everyone's attention the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission was not even a feature in this programme,aired in 2014 some six years after the SLCC came into being?
Marsh are no longer connected to PII/MP.Do your homework.
Little wonder Holyrood pays scant attention to calls for independent regulation when anonymous commenters whinge on about being sued if they speak up then go on and on instead of writing to their msps or this committee.

Peter I know you have to cover the news but get back to writing about the judiciary FCS!
Judiciary being a much better read and has everyone gliffed stiff!

Anonymous said...

Can you kindly insert a link to the valid SPPetitions call for views from interested parties on these matters on your blog.I find the SP website non productive in searches.

In addition, can you, if you have time, to investigate the role of Pursuer Panel solicitors recommended by the LSS. The person who set up the concept of Pursuer Panel solicitors who 'pursue' complaints against legal professionals advises the LSS and their Master Insurers on cases that are before them in dealing with compensation claims.

On the face of it this appears to be misleading the Public in that Pursuer Panel solicitors appointed by clients who supposedly 'act on their clients best interests' are nominated by the LSS and must maintain that nomination, no doubt by protecting the interests of the LSS and Master Insurers over and above that of their own clients.

A web search on pursuers panel solicitors in Scotland is the starting point.
Apparently Pursuer’s Panel means a panel of solicitors that the Law Society of Scotland set up specifically to help members of the public with claims against solicitors. Who do you think the very first interest they serve?
Best regards

Diary of Injustice said...

@ 5 October 2017 at 23:39

Interesting, thanks ... this could account for while the Australian legal services market now seems to be a mirror image of dodgy regulation in the UK.

On an advisory note.

Consumers should only use legal services now as a last resort.

Do not pay attention to hype from the legal profession on suing this that and the next as there are in actuality no gains to be made.

As far as selling properties goes, we should now be looking at creating an alternative to the legal profession/estate agent/surveyors cartel which has stitched up the UK property market along with buyers and sellers for years.

And as far as Will Aid goes - for those who are contemplating using such a scheme, it is as pernicious as many other legal services, where supposed 'free work' is later collected from the estate after the client who wrote the will dies.

And, despite the promotion of Arbitration as an alternative to courts and lawyers, the fact is most arbitrators are connected to the legal profession, either financially or via personal and other business links.

@ 5 October 2017 at 23:48

Noted. The problem with Lawyers Behaving Badly is the lack of follow up, and what appears to be as some have already pointed out, legal profession 'sponsored' news items since.

Nevertheless MSPs should hear from the electorate and those who have suffered at the hands of legal regulation rather than take the word of lobby groups from the legal profession who want to keep the lawyer regulating themselves style of regulation in place.

@ 6 October 2017 at 07:55

Will do however the quote from the Petitions Committee in terms of their decision to seek the views of several regulatory bodies is contained within the article as follows:

"The Committee also agreed to write to the Scottish Government, the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission, the Law Society of Scotland, the Faculty of Advocates, Scottish Solicitors' Discipline Tribunal, Citizens Advice Scotland and the Judicial Complaints Reviewer."

The Pursuers Panel is an arrangement created by the Law Society of Scotland to control negligence claims against the legal profession.

It is not advisable for anyone to use this arrangement or trust the law firms involved, particularly given the transfer of client data between solicitors supposedly working for clients and law firms working for the Master Policy.

Anonymous said...

print journo here

the comment re the bbc - of interest to me

alleged abuse survivor contacts paper we talk he claims solicitor told him he could receive £4m if he sues I ask him what if nuns dont have it he says state has to pay I then say do you think taxpayers should cough up for what happened he then starts screaming at me alleges I am part of a conspiracy of silence sends me emails at all times of the day and copy letters from his lawyer

Turns out from letters his lawyer does say he could be due "up to 4 million" and is claiming legal aid for this alleged victim.I call lawyer she hangs up on me yet she was keen to appear on the beeb in sanitised interview talking about her abuse case clients.She then calls my boss to ask if I am covering a story and wants to be consulted before we print!

Point of comment is lawyers are encouraging greed on what could be genuine cases but no realistic chance of multi million settlement per victim when you have cases involving loss of life in hospitals botched police ops or other not reaching anywhere near millions payout.

Diary of Injustice said...

@ 6 October 2017 at 12:46

Good points would like to hear more on this please.

Anonymous said...

6 October 2017 at 07:55 if you are happy leaving the Law Society et all to butter up the msps on the committee do nothing if not write in and say something

Anonymous said...

5 October 2017 at 23:48

Reply to a lawyer;

Lawyers behaving badly" is required viewing regardless of its 'editing' (i.e. censorship) because it confirms the mendacious duplicity upon which an institutionally biased system continues to operate. The date of the complaints discussed is very much a secondary consideration.

As for 'the law society's shady history with the disgraced insurer Marsh', the original comment not only makes no suggestion that Marsh is the current insurer of all practicing Scottish solicitors, indeed the wording - if read carefully - clearly indicates otherwise. Moreover, we must not forget the many who suffered during the decades Marsh was effectively in control of claims against the Master Policy.

In closing, follow your own advice and think, before you jump to misguided and unsupported and irresponsible conclusions.

Anonymous said...

Reply to 5 October 2017 at 18:30 and 5 October 2017 at 20:57;

"Note no bbc follow up after LSS muzzled their investigations team." EXACTLY! Independent presenters and researchers might well relish the opportunity to speak to the committee about that if invited.

Why allow this to swept under the carpet?

And while we are at it why not remind the Committee of the damning report by Manchester University School of Law (authors Professor Stephen and Dr. Angela Melville) which is discussed on this blog and can be found at;