While the Law Society of Scotland continues to maintain it is the best regulator of the legal profession in Scotland - even in the face of impending independent regulation coming in the form of the new Scottish Legal Complaints Commission, the figures for complaints against solicitors last year show at least 4091 cases where clients were dissatisfied with the service provided by their solicitor or legal firm.
The Law Society of Scotland refuses, of course, to release the details & substance of those complaints, but many of them are of a serious nature, ranging from embezzlement of clients funds, falsifying work on cases, overcharging for work, fraud, client intimidation, lying to clients, theft of clients property & much more .... no wonder, Drumsheugh Gardens keeps the details to itself then.
However, while the official figures show 4091 cases of complaint, down from over 5000 the previous year, the real figure is thought to be much higher, running at 7000 - 8000 individual complaints a year against Scotland's less than 10,000 solicitors - which doesn't leave room for many 'clean' solicitors now, does it. Anyone who has had experience in dealing with the Client Relations Office & a little local knowledge of the solicitor & legal firm they are complaining against, will be in no doubt the real figures of complaints against poor conduct, negligence, embezzlement or worse, are much higher.
Of course, Alistair Sim, Director of Marsh UK, the British arm of the infamously corrupt Marsh Inc Insurers who were caught up in scandal & corruption for several years, admitted some time ago .. "there isn't a lawyer in Scotland who hasn't been complained against"
An example of such a lawyer perhaps : TOP LAWYER AT THE CENTRE OF 12 NEGLIGENCE CLAIMS
The above case is quite common, where the system of self regulation operated by the Law Society for soma many decades, allowing lawyers to investigate & cover up for their colleagues, has allowed negligence to flourish like fleas throughout the profession.
Philip Yelland, Director of Client Relations states : "The society's complaints committees, made up of 50/50 solicitors and non- solicitors, carefully consider all the facts and then base their decisions on the evidence available.
The so-called non-solicitor 'lay membership' is nothing but a rubber stamp for getting a crooked lawyer off the hook - as so many previous cases have proved, these lay members often being bullied or steered like mindless dumb sheep whatever decision the Law Society wants on a complaint (usually not guilty of course).
The 'non-solicitor' lay membership have proved time & again they won't go into the controversial issues at Complaints Committee hearings, or properly look at evidence submitted to them by clients against knowingly crooked lawyers with long records of poor regulatory conduct, instead, preferring to allow those rogues of the legal profession back into their offices to embezzle some more clients funds - safe in the knowledge nothing will ever be done.
Yelland goes on to claim : "For a complaint to be upheld the complaint needs to be proved on the balance of probabilities to comply with the legislation passed by parliament."
What a nonsense, Mr Yelland - another lie from the legal profession which illustrates the contempt that you and your colleagues at the Law Society have for those who dare to complain against their legal agents ...
Even when a Law Society 'investigating reporter' on a complaint actually recommends action, or even a prosecution before the SSDT of a rogue solicitor, Complaints Committees will often overrule such recommendations depending on the 'face' before them, and how many strings are being pulled by the accused solicitor's Law Society representatives - and even worse as in a complaint I made, initially decide on a prosecution, then change their decision on knowingly false evidence presented before them.
For a good example of how the Law Society of Scotland investigates complaints, read my earlier coverage of Scotland's most famous crooked lawyer - Andrew Penman : Scottish Legal Awards - Lawyer Lawyer on the wall, who is the most crooked of us all ?
Independent regulation has been long overdue for Scotland's legal profession, and it can't come soon enough - as well as a review of the way the Law Society has prejudiced complaints against clients, some quite vindictively, for so many years.
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.
Read on for the article, from the Herald Newspaper - good thing we have the Herald, because the Scotsman's Law section today missed this one out, preferring to spout forth some more professional propaganda & demands for more legal aid ...
Law body receives 4000 complaints
PAUL ROGERSON, City Editor March 12 2007
A total of 4091 complaints alleging professional misconduct or inadequate advice by lawyers were lodged with the Law Society of Scotland in 2006, it has been revealed.
In around a quarter of the cases, no further action was deemed necessary, the figures showed.
Asked why the society had failed to take action in about 25% of the cases, Philip Yelland, director of regulation, said: "The society's complaints committees, made up of 50/50 solicitors and non- solicitors, carefully consider all the facts and then base their decisions on the evidence available.
"For a complaint to be upheld the complaint needs to be proved on the balance of probabilities to comply with the legislation passed by parliament."
Independent watchdog the Scottish Legal Services Ombudsman has in the past demanded the right to audit complaints which are not followed up, amid concern that some consumers do not get a fair hearing.
Last year's total number of complaints was down from a record high of 4849 in 2005.
The figure for 2006 represented the first drop in the number of complaints against lawyers in many years, as claims alleging endowment policy mis-selling by legal firms in the late 1980s and early 1990s continued to decline.
However, there are no figures on how many people complain to their lawyers before the society is asked to get involved.
Here's the article from the Scotsman - and you can see that despite over 4000 compalints a year made against solicitors, a little detail like rampant corruption & negligence doesn't stop them from wanting more legal aid money from the taxpayer ...
Unanimous vote calls for changes to civil legal aid
THE Law Society is to step up pressure on the Scottish Executive to increase rates paid for civil legal aid, after the profession backed family lawyers' demands for action to prevent "advice deserts".
Solicitors at the society's annual general meeting (AGM) on Friday overwhelmingly supported a motion from the Family Law Association, calling for urgent changes to the block fee system. Caroline Flanagan, a family solicitor and partner with Ross & Connel in Dunfermline and a former president of the society, responded to the motion on behalf of the society's council.
She said it would now be up to the council to consider how to take the issue forward at its next meeting at the end of this month, and it is likely that one of the legal aid committees will be asked to look at it.
However, she adds, it will come as "no surprise" to the Executive that family lawyers had concerns about the block fee system. Flanagan told The Scotsman that any campaign for an increase in fees was unlikely to become as vociferous as last year's high-profile battle over criminal legal aid.
But she warned more family lawyers would simply stop doing legal aid work in favour of private clients - a choice not open to criminal lawyers.
She adds: "In certain types of cases, the block fees have paid less than the old fees would have paid. There is also increased administration, so it is a double whammy."
Changes to the block fee regulations were introduced in February, but Flanagan argues that these do not go far enough, and merely address issues flagged up at the outset.
"A lot of the things that are being improved are things they were told in 2003 were going to cause problems in the first place," she says. "Some of the things that have now been fixed were always known as going to be problems.
"We were told that, after the nine and a half years with no increase, there would be regular reviews - which I think we took to mean as every couple of years or so - and here we are three and a half years down the line. It [will be] no surprise to the Executive that the profession feels like this."
She adds that the profession now needs to provide "hard evidence" to the Executive that advice deserts are emerging as a result of the problem with rates of civil legal aid.
"There is already anecdotal evidence of advice deserts appearing in parts of Scotland with solicitors stopping civil legal aid work," she says. "We need the profession to provide hard evidence so we can present a strong case to the Executive.
"We need to be able to show where and why solicitors are not being paid sufficiently and the effect that this is having on the public's access to legal advice."
Helen Hughes, the chairwoman of the Family Law Association, welcomed the support from 150 lawyers at the AGM, and stressed the importance of a review of rates to prevent more Scots being unable to find a solicitor for civil legal aid work.
"I am delighted for the people of Scotland that the Law Society has today unanimously endorsed our motion", she says.
"The message it sends to the Executive is that, to ensure access to justice, they must immediately review the block payment system and put in place a system that pays solicitors a reasonable rate for the very important work they do to protect people's rights."
The Executive has acknowledged concerns regarding fees for civil legal aid, and a spokesman has confirmed that a review of fees and eligibility levels is being carried out.