Wednesday, September 13, 2006

OFT want greater protection for public while Scottish Executive & MSPs fiddle LPLA Bill on behalf of the legal profession

While Scottish Executive Ministers & MSPs try to water down the proposed reforms contained in the LPLA Bill on how complaints against lawyers are handled in Scotland, the Office of Fair Trading has demanded greater regulation & scrutiny of the legal profession, far beyond what is currently contained in the much fought over Legal Profession & Legal Aid Bill.

The Herald newspaper is reporting today that :

"The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) wants to see solicitors and advocates who provide bad service "named and shamed" by the new independent Scottish Legal Complaints Commission. This could be achieved by the commission publishing the outcome of its investigations, it suggests.

In England and Wales, moves are already afoot to force law firms to publish their complaints records and produce an annual return detailing how they have dealt with complaints.

The OFT also favours the introduction of a new "kitemark" scheme which would allow Scottish law firms and lawyers with a good ser-vice record to advertise their services on that basis. "

Read the OFT submission to the Scottish Parliament Justice 2 Committee here : OFT Submission to Justice 2

An excellent idea indeed - to name & shame crooked & negligent lawyers - one which we campaigners and anyone else who has been maligned by the legal profession, have been calling for years to be put into place.

The naming & shaming bit against crooked lawyers in Scotland, has so far been done by campaigners such as "Scotland Against Crooked Lawyers" at http://www.sacl.info .. but as lawyers provide a commercial service, they should be forced to display their own records - so we know what we are getting in the first place when we go to a lawyer.

We, the public, need to see the regulatory history of solicitors & their previous performance when dealing with clients & the law .. something which I have said for years, and which was covered recently in a case where a lawyer was found to be at the centre of 12 Negligence claims - and still conducting business on behalf of unsuspecting clients who had no idea of what he had been up to with others : see here : TOP LAWYER AT THE CENTRE OF 12 NEGLIGENCE CLAIMS

At the moment, it appears that none of the OFT's proposed revisions to the bill has so far been accepted by Scottish Executive Ministers, due to intense arm twisting & lobbying from the legal profession. Some of the OFT's recommendations include raising the maximum compensation for inadequate service above the proposed ceiling of £20,000 in which the OFT says "Provision should be included to allow for higher payments in exceptional cases," - something again, which many others who have been affected by the crooked conduct of lawyers & the Law Society of Scotland over the years, have been saying to the Scottish Parliament.

As I have said myself before, many times - why should there be any set limit at all to the level of compensation which should be paid out by a crooked legal profession to the client they have ruined ?

Why should there be a £20,000 limit ? Was that put in by the members of the Law Society of Scotland who were on the Scottish Executive's working group ? One of those members being the infamous client hating Douglas Mill, Chief Executive of the Law Society of Scotland who will stop at NOTHING to ruin client complaints and interfere in cases of financial claims for damages against crooked lawyers ..

The OFT has also vented it's frustration and suspicions over the performance of the "Master Insurance Policy" - the professional indemnity insurance of lawyers in Scotland and how it operates.

Many clients of lawyers who have tried to claim against the Master Insurance Policy have found the hole thing to be a fraud - where lawyer is supposed to sue lawyer .. but both get bonuses when the client's claim is either reduced to a few pennies, or as is mostly the case, completely undermined to the point that any claim for damages against the legal profession fails.

I should know all about that - the Master Insurance Policy and the top officials at the Law Society of Scotland destroyed my own case against crooked Borders lawyer Andrew Penman of Stormonth Darling Solicitors Kelso.

Douglas Mill, the Chief Executive of the Law Society of Scotland and Philip Yelland, the Director of Client relations intervened personally in my case, writing letters demanding my legal aid be refused, and ordering my then lawyers, Morrisons WS, Edinburgh, to cease my case and refuse to take any instructions from me - in articles, along with the evidence, which I have already published on this site, here :
http://petercherbi.blogspot.com/2006/08/law-society-of-scotland-claims-success_14.html &
http://petercherbi.blogspot.com/2006/06/corrupt-link-revealed-how-law-society.html &
http://petercherbi.blogspot.com/2006/08/scotsman-responds-to-peter-cherbi-and.html

Almost all claims against lawyers which involve the Master Insurance Policy go this way .. and the Law Society of Scotland has kept this dirty devious scheme hidden from the public for years, so it could perpetuate itself into one of the biggest businesses in Scotland today.

The current progress of the LPLA Bill in the Scottish Parliament is being interfered with by a vicious campaign of lobbying from the legal profession & judiciary, who are going all out to kill any prospect of reforms to their crooked dictatorship.

Even newspapers & media groups have been cynically turned on members of the public, where the likes of the Scotsman, which once openly supported independent regulation of lawyers after it featured many news articles on my own case, has been twisted into a media outlet of the legal profession against the general public.

At the same time, secret meetings between groups of lawyers and msps have went unreported .. although one such meeting was quoted by the Parliament itself last week, were it transpired David Davidson, the Justice 2 Committee Convener & Mike Rumbles msp, both met a group of lawyers .. want to guess what was on the agenda of that meeting ?

David Davidson, J2 Convener, however refuses to meet with or have any further contact with campaigners & those members of the public who have made submission to the Justice 2 Committee on the LPLA Bill.

Why the imbalance ? Why is Davidson so ready to meet with lawyers but refuses to meet with concerned members of the public who have been ripped off by lawyers ?

Indeed - why has the Justice 2 Committee refused to recall Douglas Mill to account for his obvious lies to the Committee on how he became involved in cases of client claims for damages against crooked lawyers ?

Does the Justice 2 Committee fear the legal profession so much it is unwilling to question it's most senior ranks on why they lied in testimony to the Parliament and contradicted evidence provided by John Swinney msp, showing Mill's involvement in stalling compensation claims, and my own submission and those of many others, clearly showing the same level of involvement of Law Society officials who were out to ruin negligence claims against lawyers.

David Davidson claims the Justice 2 Committee received no "objective evidence" on the Master Insurance Policy .. but that is a lie.

The Justice 2 Committee obtained the best possible evidence - Material evidence from the actual victims of crooked lawyers who had tried to claim from the Master Insurance Policy and had their cases ruined in a policy of destruction of clients claims by the legal profession. Material evidence showing that the most senior officials of the Law Society of Scotland had intervened in clients cases against crooked negligent lawyers and destroyed any chance of progress and wiped out any chance of compensation - while the crooked lawyer went on to rip off more clients.

Has the legal profession scored an ally with Mr Davidson ?

Is there some secret arm twisting & back door deals being proposed behind the scenes of the Parliamentary debate to water down the LPLA Bill and keep the Law Society of Scotland's dictatorship over the elected political process intact ?

Read on for the Herald's report on the issue - link at : http://www.theherald.co.uk/business/69893.html

Watchdog targets bad lawyers
PAUL ROGERSON September 13 2006

BRITAIN'S foremost consumer watchdog has proposed a series of measures to protect the public from incompetent Scottish lawyers that go well beyond those contained in Holyrood legislation.

The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) wants to see solicitors and advocates who provide bad service "named and shamed" by the new independent Scottish Legal Complaints Commission. This could be achieved by the commission publishing the outcome of its investigations, it suggests.

In England and Wales, moves are already afoot to force law firms to publish their complaints records and produce an annual return detailing how they have dealt with complaints.

The OFT also favours the introduction of a new "kitemark" scheme which would allow Scottish law firms and lawyers with a good ser-vice record to advertise their services on that basis.

The agency's proposals are contained in its written response to the bitterly controversial Legal Profession and Legal Aid (Scotland) Bill, which went through its first stage debate at the Scottish Parliament last week.

Rather than toughen up the bill, ministers appear to be watering it down following a ferocious lobbying campaign by senior lawyers and professional bodies.

Of particular importance among about 300 proposed executive amendments is provision for a role for Scotland's top judge, the Lord President, in the removal of commission members.

None of the OFT's proposed revisions to the bill has so far been accepted by ministers. The proposals include raising the maximum compensation for inadequate service above the proposed ceiling of £20,000. "Provision should be included to allow for higher payments in exceptional cases," the OFT argues.

The commission's remit will handle only service complaints, leaving cases of alleged misconduct in the hands of professional bodies the Law Society of Scotland and Faculty of Advocates.

The OFT believes that giving the new commission limited powers of oversight over the handling of misconduct cases does not go far enough. "In our view the (commission) might also benefit from a capacity to prosecute conduct and discipline complaints before the professional bodies, where important public interest issues are at stake," it argues.

The OFT is also unimpressed with the limited role of the commission in monitoring the society's controversial master insurance policy, which covers compensation claims against Scottish solicitors arising from negligence, fraud or dishonesty.

For years critics such as the Scottish Consumer Council have complained that the policy lacks transparency and gives complainers the impression that the insurers are in league with solicitors and the law society.

The OFT alleged: "The current proposal, which proposes a power to monitor effectiveness (of master policy arrangements), rather than a duty to do so, appears unlikely to afford consumers sufficient guarantee of the effectiveness of these arrangements."

Asked if ministers would consider amending the bill further to address the OFT's concerns, a Scottish Executive spokesman said: "We announced a number of the key amendments during the Stage 1 debate last week. Details of further amendments will be published on the Scottish Parliament website in advance of the relevant Stage 2 committee meeting.

"The OFT submission was one of many received by the Justice 2 Committee and has been considered along with all the others as we work towards Stage 2 of the bill."

Commenting, the society emphasised that the master policy is a "commercial contract" between insurers and individual solicitors for negligence claims that has survived the scrutiny of various bodies, including the OFT itself and EU authorities in Brussels.

"The society has repeatedly stated that it is not clear why there is a proposal for the commission to have oversight," it added.

"A commercial insurance contract falls outwith the commission's jurisdiction. It is of course the insurers who negotiate and settle claims."

On the scale of available compensation, both the society and the Justice 2 Committee have asked the executive for the reasoning behind raising the compensation level from £5000 to £20,000.

6 comments:

Terry said...

Read what you said about small claims and now this on the OFT.
Support you all the way against these thug lawyers.

Anonymous said...

It seems there are no shortage of words on this issue, on either side of the debate.

Still, it would have been cheaper to pay you & the rest of your vigilatne bunch off instead of what's been done over the years.

Fault of the Law Society, not many in the profession I suspect.

DaveB said...

I agree with you and the OFT on this one.
Crooked lawyers need to display their records to clients.
Great quote on the can of beans stuff. What made you think of that ? Brilliant

Matty said...

Obviously they don't want anyone looking at their crooked insurance scheme.

Time to end the party this lot have been having for years. Bloody lawyers are no good for anything these days other than lining their own pockets.

Rabbie Burns said...

I attended the Balancing the Scales of Justice conference and heard Moyo's speech.

Total disgrace this was used to try and justify keeping complaints within the profession but no one dared to say so for fear of lynching.

Don't worry too much about it though, Peter.
The whole thing was more like a Nazi rally and I think you reported it much better than Jenny Veitch's paid for scribbles.

Your mame was mentioned several times !

Anonymous said...

You tell them Cherbi.
I'd rather have the OFT than that bunch of arseholes at Holyrood
Most of them are lawyers anyway like letchie Mcletchie and his tits on the side. defo NOT to be trusted when a bunch of fivers is being waved at them by the scum at the law society