The Law Society of Scotland's Annual get together is to be held on Friday of this week - 9th March 2007, at the Royal Museum of Scotland, on Chambers Street, in Edinburgh, starting at 10:30am. A fitting place perhaps for something which should have been put in a museum a long time ago ?
Lawyers never learn from their mistakes though - and to be sure, this week's meeting will focus on things like
1. How to rip off Clients for more money
2. Embezzlement is an art - and we lawyers know how to get away with it.
3. How to lie and fake file notes - A lawyers guide.
4. Clients should be persecuted and hounded to death if they complain against fellow lawyers.
5. We, the Law Society of Scotland, can dictate the law and prevent any major reforms to the way we handle our crooked business.
6. Time to milk the Legal Aid Board & taxpayer for more money via Legal Aid
7. Property - and how to steal it from sellers at a low price, then resell it to colleagues & favored clients for a profit.
8 Getting off from Criminal Charges - A guide to fiddling evidence & buttering up the Crown Office.
9. Political interference and how to blackmail politicians with their dirty secrets.
10. Let's burn Peter Cherbi at the stake
Well, I'm sure Douglas Mill, Phillip Yelland and a few others would like to don the sacrifice paint and chant 'death to clients' while dancing round my burning corpse (alongside a few others) .. not to happen though, thankfully ... they will have more things to do & discuss, as one Scotsman journalist said to me this morning - one item might be "keeping the queue of rent boys a little more discreet this year" .. really ? my goodness .. I would never have thought such antics went on at an a.g.m ... what's the matter ? don't they take their wives along these days ? tut tut ...
Anyway, as an article in the Scotsman ran this week, one of the hot topics on the agenda for this years general meeting, is milking the taxpayer for more legal aid - this coming from the "family lawyers" side of the profession .... and one would really have to shudder at that term "family lawyers" after reading stories like this : Lawyer 'planned sex with child' .. so as you can see .. nothing much changes in the legal profession.
We've already been through the Legal Aid scam though - as you know from my previous articles such as this : Lawyers protests over low legal aid fees revealed to be fake as Law Society's own research points to increase.. where they did actually get their way and the Scottish Executive duly announced increases in legal aid for our legal thieves ... so why the fuss again ? Well, as always, the legal profession always wants that little bit more ... and it's time again to bully & threaten the taxpayer for some more money - otherwise the "family law" fraternity will boycott cases & strike until they get it.
Here's another method Scotland's 'honest' legal profession employ to get more legal aid - bribing clients to sign legal aid forms : Lawyer caught in media sting bribing clients to defraud Legal Aid Board - the tip of an iceberg
Another item from the Scotsman of the same day report that drugs running lawyer Angela Baliie has been told to give up a paltry 5k from her profits as a drugs mule.
I covered the Angela Ballie case earlier last year : Drug Running Lawyer flees Scottish Justice to evade sentencing.
The thing is though - about tthe Angela Ballie case - it was already reported by the Scotsmanshe made 50,000 ... which I covered here : A Crooked Lawyer - one of the 'cream' of the Scottish Legal Profession exposed as a drug runner - and now awaiting a jail term so why is she only being asked to give up ₤5,000 ? Something wrong with the arithmetic on that one perhaps ? ..
The Scotsman article of yesterday reports
"The Crown Office had sought a confiscation order for £52,556, which officials believed were the proceeds of her crimes. Yesterday, they were forced to settle for just £5,000. Under the Proceeds of Crime Act, Baillie was expected to provide written evidence - including bank statements - that the total sum sought was legally earned. She successfully argued that for £47,556 of the £52,000"
A little bit of a legal fiddle going on there perhaps ? Why the sudden drop and lack of a challenge from the Crown Office ? .. just because the legal profession waded in with their antics again to protect a colleague ? .. and we were all told Ballie had psychological problems .. not enough to want to lose all her drugs profits though it seems ...
A reminder to you all ... If you have experienced poor treatment from the Law Society of Scotland in a complaint or lost money to a crooked lawyer and nothing was done about it, Please sign Petition PE1033 and begin the campaign for redress and resolution to the way clients have been discriminated against by crooked lawyers & the Law Society of Scotland under their decades old prejudiced self regulatory complaints system.
Lastly today,let me welcome my readers from the rest of the world, including, China.
I didn't realise my blog was so popular there, to the point that some, particularly in China have 'been learning' from my experience in campaigning against injustice.
To you, and to all those in the world who suffer injustice, continue with your campaigns, if you can, make it an issue affecting all (which is normally the case anyway) - and you get more attention and a greater chance of a satisfactory conclusion at a later date.
Of course, it's not just individual campaigners across the world who read this blog. Over the years, Injustice Scotland, a site I also write for, and even more so in the past year since I began this blog for the passage of the Legal Profession & Legal Aid (Scotland) Bill, have received requests from individuals, and even companies, for my opinion on specific Scottish legal firms & lawyers.
Lately, a few requests from foreign companies, including some Chinese companies have come in, asking whether I consider various individuals or their legal firms 'trustworthy'.
Well, mostly I don't, and I'm not just saying that because I don't like lawyers. I'm saying that because I am aware of their track records as lawyers
On preparing a recent profile list of Scottish Law Firms & lawyers for some 'enquiring persons, agencies, & companies', it was quite easy for me to pin terms such as "suffers from a poor regulatory history", or "has made several clients companies bankrupt", or "has a history of embezzlement" to several of the major names of Scotland's legal profession who pass themselves off to companies as being 'the bees knees'
Actually you should have seen the response I got from an agency when I produced documents from a clients complaint over one of Scotland's supposedly well respected lawyers grooming a client's under age son for sex ... I think the company concerned decided to give Scotland's legal profession a miss after hearing that ... and no wonder.
So, members of the legal profession - if you want to clean up your act - begin by cleaning up your past - and the present. Simple as that. Until then, the campaign goes on - and what we have in store ...
Link to the Scotsman article on this Friday's Law Society Annual General Meeting - written by well known Law Society favourite Jennifer Veitch, whose colleagues at the Scotsman like to spill the beans on ...
AGM motion will debate 'crisis inaccess to justice'
FAMILY lawyers will seek the legal profession's backing this week for their demands that the Scottish Executive overhaul the rates paid for civil legal aid and avert what they say would be a crisis in access to justice.
The Family Law Association (FLA) will table a motion at the Law Society's Annual General Meeting in Edinburgh this Friday, calling for the Executive to review the block fee system. The move follows last year's bitter row between the profession and the Executive over rates paid for criminal legal aid work.
Helen Hughes, the chairwoman of the FLA, which represents more than 300 family lawyers, says solicitors are becoming increasingly concerned about the impact of the block fees, introduced in 2003.
Hughes - who is a partner with McAuley, McCarthy & Co in Paisley - says the full impact of the new system only became apparent in the past 12 months, as family law cases usually run for around two years.
"Over the last year or so, family law solicitors have become more concerned, because it was probably only about the turn of 2006 that they began to finish cases and submit accounts to the [Scottish] Legal Aid Board (SLAB)," she says.
"Then, around Easter or into the summer of last year, they were realising just how stark the difference was between what a case would be paid at under the old system and what was being paid at under the new system."
Hughes says the FLA has commissioned a statistical analysis from law accountants, but anecdotal evidence already shows a dramatic difference in payments - vastly increasing the gulf in fees between legal aid and privately paid work and forcing many solicitors to stop doing legal aid work.
"In some of my cases, the difference is 100 per cent - the old system would have paid me double," she says. "When you then compare that with private rates, it then just becomes a phenomenal difference.
"Lawyers who do legal aid appreciate they are never going to be paid at private rates and that is not our expectation. But we feel that family law cases are a special case - they should be dealt with in a different way from other civil business."
SLAB has been monitoring the impact of the block fee system, and recently wrote to civil legal assistance practitioners to advise them of some changes, which chief executive Lindsay Montgomery says should add around £1 million a year in fees to solicitors.
Hughes concedes that the changes have addressed some problems, such as allowing payments for preparing for multiple child-welfare hearings. However, she adds: "The review they have undertaken and the new regulations they have introduced only scratch at the surface - they don't go far enough."
The legal aid system needs to take account of the complexity of family law cases, Hughes says, as clients are often emotional and distressed, and the law can be difficult to interpret.
"As a family law solicitor, you are dealing with people who are in an emotional state, and that is why you have to spend an hour or an hour and a half going through it with them. That's why family-law solicitors feel that family-law cases are separate from other civil work.
"Family lawyers are having to get their heads around quite complex legal issues that have just been introduced in the last year, which give a very wide discretion to the sheriffs."
While SLAB is taking forward plans for the Civil Legal Assistance Office to plug gaps in legal aid provision, Hughes remains sceptical that this will be enough to ensure access to justice.
"That's not going to work Scotland-wide. For example, in a town like Paisley, where I practice, if you have an equivalent of the public defender there, there is a conflict of interest between a husband and a wife, so if one of them goes there, where does the other one go? The two of them can't go to the same place."
Hughes says she is "very confident" that FLA motion will receive the backing of the AGM.
She adds: "Family-law solicitors have become more vociferous. They are not by nature folk who kick up a fuss, but it is becoming apparent that the legal aid situation is becoming a crisis."
A Scottish Executive spokesman says new fees regulations were introduced in February to address concerns expressed by family lawyers, including increases to fees for summary cause cases and for detailed and contentious type cases. He adds: "Ministers have announced that civil legal aid fees and eligibility levels will be reviewed. The changes that recently came into effect will be monitored to see how the changes are working."
The Law Society of Scotland's Annual General Meeting (AGM) is due to take place this Friday at the Royal Museum of Scotland, on Chambers Street, in Edinburgh The meeting is scheduled to begin at 10:30am.
Link to the article on drugs running lawyer Angela Ballie at :
'Ally McDeal' ordered to hand over £5,000 crime profits for acting as prison drug mule
JOHN ROBERTSON AND STEPHEN MCGINTY
SITTING on a padded bench at the High Court in Edinburgh, Angela Baillie was yesterday confronted with the financial cost of her crime. The designer suits, elegant handbags and promising career were gone. Instead, the former solicitor was clothed in a green jumper, her long dark hair lank and loose.
For the last 11 months Baillie, 33, who has been dubbed "Ally McDeal" in the tabloid press, has resided in a single cell at Cornton Vale women's prison in Stirlingshire, which she has tried to brighten with photographs of her 16-year-old daughter, her family and what few friends remain.
Last April, she was convicted of drug dealing by smuggling heroin and diazepam tablets worth £1,558 to an inmate at Barlinnie Prison in Glasgow.
The authorities believed Baillie was a veteran drug mule. However, she was charged and convicted on a single incident, which her defence team insisted was carried out under duress and in fear for her life and that of her daughter.
The Crown Office had sought a confiscation order for £52,556, which officials believed were the proceeds of her crimes. Yesterday, they were forced to settle for just £5,000.
Under the Proceeds of Crime Act, Baillie was expected to provide written evidence - including bank statements - that the total sum sought was legally earned. She successfully argued that for £47,556 of the £52,000.
Baillie, formerly of Newton Mearns, Glasgow, had admitted being concerned in the supply of the drugs passed in a cigarette packet to a client during a prison visit in October 2005, while working for a criminal-law firm in Glasgow.
Baillie - who is the daughter of Frank Baillie, a successful businessman and a former director of Scottish & Universal Newspapers - claimed she was pressurised into carrying the package by a female relative of a senior underworld figure, who visited her home and showed her a gun.
Former friends of Baillie described her as being attracted by the illicit thrill of associating with gangsters. She was also a cocaine addict with a history of psychiatric problems, which were later diagnosed as manic depression. In 2002, she took an overdose of paracetamol, and agreed to be treated for drug addiction at the Priory Clinic in Surrey. She attempted suicide again in 2004.
During her trial last year, the court was told that Baillie's history of psychiatric problems left her unable to resist the gangland figure's demand to deliver the drugs. On 23 October 2005, she visited Barlinnie Prison and passed over the cigarette packet to a prisoner. However, authorities had been tipped off and the prisoner was later strip-searched and the drugs discovered.
As well as receiving a 32-month jail term, Baillie was faced with action under the Proceeds of Crime Act, which allows authorities to examine an offender's financial records going back six years, and to calculate legitimate income and the total sum received.
In confiscation cases, two figures are recorded - the proceeds of general criminal conduct, and the amount to be confiscated. Often, an offender's known, realisable assets are insufficient to cover the proceeds and the amount seized can therefore be much lower.
In January, a cocaine trafficker whose proceeds of crime were more than £300,000 had a confiscation order of £1 made against him as he had no possessions of any worth. However, if any are discovered in the future, they may be seized.
Defence counsel Mark Moir said he had been instructed by Baillie to agree £5,000 should be recorded as the proceeds of her general criminal conduct.
He added: "The instructions have been tendered on the basis that the onus is on an accused to account for all monies passing through their bank account in the last six years. With a number of cheques and monies [in Baillie's case], the source cannot be verified because the bank's microfiche system has effectively been deleted. She is unable to satisfy the legislation on these matters and unable to rebut the presumption made in the act, and accepts the figure of £5,000 is to be the proceeds of her general criminal conduct."
Barry Divers, the advocate-depute, confirmed the figure and said a confiscation order should be made in the same amount, with Baillie to be given two months to pay. The judge made formal orders to verify the agreement.
During her time at Cornton Vale, Baillie has reportedly worked in the beauty salon and assisted Margaret "Mags" Haney, a convicted drug dealer, in completing her autobiography by marking libellous passages. It was also reported she was assaulted by one prisoner for not sharing her newspapers.
Baillie is eligible to be fitted with an electronic tag and may be released in May, after serving less than half her sentence.