What's in the new minister's legal in-tray ? asks the Scotsman newspaper today .. and one would expect from that a whole host of issues relating to public interest and the well known general failure of Scottish Law to tackle anything transparently these days ... however, there's none of that as the Law edition of the Scotsman uses the article to lobby against change or even the very idea of reforms to the monopolistic business model of the Law Society of Scotland ... dictating who has access to justice and who does not.
The first 'question' - you may suppose, comes possibly from a lawyer, asking, or perhaps better put .. demanding clarification, that Kenny MacAskill, the new Justice Minister, "is a friend of the legal profession in Scotland and will give proper weight to representations from the Law Society of Scotland, and lawyers generally on matters of interest to the profession such as the Purchaser's Information Pack, and any further proposed reforms of the profession, and does he agree it is now time to give the profession a break from the incessant interference it has endured from Holyrood since its inception? ".
Instead of just being a friend to the legal profession, how about the idea that Kenny MacAskill might be a friend of everyone in Scotland ?
I have of course in mind, the rest of the country other than just the lawyers, who have an interest in the Justice system, including those victims who have suffered at the hands of the very same legal profession which now seeks ... or as things seem to be heading, demands Mr MacAskill's loyalty and attention on issues it sees fit - including of course, the issue of regulation of the legal profession, which everyone knows is the most cherished prize of Scottish lawyers - to regulate themselves and cover up complaint after complaint against crooked lawyers....
"giving proper weight to representations from the Law Society of Scotland, and lawyers generally on matters of interest to the profession" .. now, what does that entail I hear you ask ?
Well, if perhaps Mr MacAskill doesn't give proper weight to representations from the Law Society of Scotland and their merry band of crooks, perhaps they will stick him on a rendition flight to Drumsheugh Gardens for some electrical treatment ? or even worse, face another Court challenge threat from Douglas Mill, the Law Society Chief Executive who famously last year threatened the Executive and Parliament over the passage of the Legal Profession & Legal Aid (Scotland) Act 2007
"does he agree it is now time to give the profession a break from the incessant interference it has endured from Holyrood since its inception?..."
What interference from Holyrood exactly now is that ? ah yes .. perhaps 'Donald' is referring to David Mcletchie's Council of the Law Society of Scotland Bill - which was actually welcomed by David Preston, the then President of the Law Society in 2003 ,who said in the Law Society's own Press Release : "This will allow the Law Society of Scotland to modernise and improve its procedures and will implement some of the recommendations made in the Justice 1 Committee's report on regulation of the Scottish Legal profession published last year"
Perhaps not then ... as that Bill was actually steamrollered through the Scottish Parliament and thrust down the Executive's throat by the Law Society itself, along with support from several MSPs. The main sponsor of the "Council of the Law Society of Scotland Bill" was David McLetchie MSP (former Tory leader caught swindling the taxpayer over his Taxi expenses and certain conflicts of interest, and the Bill was also supported by Roseanna Cunningham, MSP, Donald Gorrie, MSP and Pauline McNeill, MSP ... perhaps MSPs to look out for in terms of their support of the legal profession then ?
Obvoiusly then 'Donald' from Glasgow is referring to the Legal Profession & Legal Aid (Scotland) Act 2007 ... which of course seeks to deprive Scotland's crooked legal profession from self regulating complaints against it's own members .. a right they have enjoyed for far too long which the Law Society has used to keep armies of crooked lawyers in practice while clients get ripped off,, victimised ,intimidated and ruined
Ex-Judge Lord McCluskey also joins in the questions to Mr MacAskill, this time signing his Lordship as being Edinburgh based, instead of at the House of Lords in Westminster as he did earlier in the year in the Scotsman in a a letter condemning the previous Scottish Executive for "disregarding expert opinion on the draft law reform bill" .. which roughly translated, comes out as 'disregarding dictates from the Judiciary on any changes which make it more accountable or transparent'
Lord McCluskey is of course no stranger to effectively making policy dictates to the Government, which today we are treated to as :
"Will the minister be sure to take the time to read the Report of the Royal Commission on the Legal Profession in Scotland (Chairman Lord Hughes) before taking any further decisions about changes in relation to the structures and institutions of the legal profession?
Lord McCluskey, Edinburgh "
Why not just come out and say it, your Lordship ... the Judiciary doesn't want any change to the way it operates - accountable only to itself and of course, the Judiciary does not want any change to the way lawyers make their money or how the Law Society of Scotland has incessantly fiddled complaints against crooked lawyers, because of course, Judges are lawyers themselves, members of the same Law Society of Scotland .. some of whom go on to be advocates, then sit on the bench, keeping their dark regulatory histories secret from the rest of us so they can advance to the ultimate positions unchecked ...
Are we back to Reforming Scotland's Judiciary at the point of a Judge's Gun again ? Lord McCluskey ? Does nothing change in the legal profession, even though the people of Scotland have voted for change ?
It's time to bring change to the way our legal profession has run the justice system and public access to it for all these decades - and if the new Justice Minister wants some ideas on issues to look at, how about subjects like these :
How about tackling the issue of lay member recruitment for all these self regulatory bodies such as the Law Society, where the same people staff regulatory committees of many different professions & public bodies, making it an industry for themselves while consumers suffer constant injustice as lay members sit by & do nothing
How about reviewing & compensating the victims of injustice by the legal profession itself ? there are ideas, such as my own Petition PE1033 to review the legal profession's sins of the past and properly review, investigate and compensate those ruined by crooked lawyers who have been allowed to go on practicing as lawyers, even ruin a few more clients in the process
Also, there is the issue of small claims, and why the legal profession has lobbied to keep it low for so long - to make sure the public have to use a lawyer to recover anything more than £750 .. and of course, spend a lot more than £750 using a lawyer to do it.
There needs to be a new culture of oversight, accountability and transparency at bodies such as the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Committee, where serious injustice to people in the Courts does not always get a fair hearing.
The Crown Office, that well known ogre of incompetence, cover up & injustice also awaits significant reform as it seems to excel in issues of corruption itself , covering up cases involving it's own staff, fellow members of the legal profession, and victimising anyone who takes issue with its actings ...
How about an inquiry into why Sections 25-29 of the Law Reform (Misc Provisions) Act 1990 which were designed to open up access to justice and the legal services market, were held back by lobbying from the Law Society of Scotland & Faculty of Advocates because of course opening up access to legal services would affect the profits of lawyers & advocates .. and of course, that such an inquiry would look into why previous Scottish Executives acquiesced to the wishes of the legal profession in this restriction of public access to legal services which even former Lord Advocate Lord Hardie seemingly agreed with denying increased competition & public access to legal markets
Instead of just having ASBOs - the now well known Anti Social Behaviour Order, how about instituting an ACBO - an Anti Corruption Behaviour Order to tackle the likes of crooked lawyers and crooked businessmen out to fleece the public & taxpayer at every turn ?
It would be so nice to have Lord McCluskey's support, whether he bases himself in London or Edinburgh, on some of these issues instead of just badgering or fingering the Executive on issues of 'don't reform the legal profession or judiciary, or else' ... after all, shouldn't an ex-judge speak for all of us not just his colleagues on the bench or in the legal profession, in the interests of justice, fairness & our interests as the Scottish public, of course ?
Where lies the victims of injustice in your words of wisdom to our elected Government, Lord McCluskey ?
Here is the article from today's Scotsman:
What's in the new minister's legal in-tray?
KENNY MACASKILL, the new cabinet secretary for justice, answers your questions.
WILL the minister confirm that, unlike the impression given by the previous regime, he is a friend of the legal profession in Scotland and will give proper weight to representations from the Law Society of Scotland, and lawyers generally, on matters of interest to the profession such as the Purchaser's Information Pack, and any further proposed reforms of the profession, and does he agree it is now time to give the profession a break from the incessant interference it has endured from Holyrood since its inception?
MACASKILL: Law is a vital part of Scottish history, identity and life. We live in a changing world and the legal profession must change with it. But I want to work with the profession to allow it to better serve Scotland as well as its members.
At present the government is in the process of implementing the Legal Profession and Legal Aid (Scotland) Act. Establishing the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission and getting it off to the best possible start is the priority. We are not proposing any further regulatory reform at the moment.
However, I also think it is wrong to see the profession as a single homogenous group. It is diverse and I need to take account of the range of views within it. I know there are different ideas about whether we should introduce alternative business structures. I want to listen seriously to everyone concerned before we make decisions.
With regard to the Purchaser's Information Pack, the legal profession has been involved throughout the development of the proposals. We are keen to work with all of the stakeholders as we take the proposals forward. The previous administration's intention was to introduce the Single Survey before the end of 2008. Ministers will consider the way forward for these proposals in light of the responses received from the consultation.
What do you see as the future for the antisocial behaviour legislation? Do you consider it is working effectively to eradicate neighbourhood crime in Scotland and, if not, what change do you think is necessary for it and the criminal justice system to attempt to achieve that objective?
Jane Dewar, Highlands
MACASKILL: First of all, I want to make clear that this government intends to build on many of the reforms of the last administration. The Antisocial Behaviour Act has now been in force for three years and in some areas is making a real difference to the quality of people's lives across Scotland. Many neighbourhoods have got some much-needed respite from antisocial actions as a result of closure orders, and penalty notices for noise nuisance have given thousands some well-deserved peace.
However, we also need to tackle the factors that cause so much of the low-level crime and antisocial behaviour that blight communities - particularly the three "D"s of drink, drugs, and deprivation. And we need to provide more positive things for young people to do, promoting good social behaviour as well as punishing the bad.
That's why now is an appropriate time to take a fresh look at the antisocial behaviour strategy to see where it can be strengthened and improved - and how we can get greater community involvement. Local agencies are responsible for promoting community safety and tackling antisocial behaviour at the local level. We plan to review how we fund them and monitor their performance to ensure continuing progress is made.
Hand in hand with that, we will also strengthen frontline policing to ensure neighbourhood crime is dealt with through the criminal justice system, wherever appropriate. The results of ongoing evaluations of antisocial behaviour orders and dispersal powers will feed into this wider review of our community safety strategy, which in turn will complement the wider programme of summary justice reform. In all of this, our aim will be to instil a culture of personal responsibility at the heart of safe, strong communities.
Will the minister be sure to take the time to read the Report of the Royal Commission on the Legal Profession in Scotland (Chairman Lord Hughes) before taking any further decisions about changes in relation to the structures and institutions of the legal profession?
Lord McCluskey, Edinburgh
MACASKILL: This government does not have a monopoly on good ideas. So we will look for fresh thinking and new approaches from across the country - as well as the widest range of research.
I will want to consider a range of sources, such as the report by the Research Working Group on the Legal Services Market in Scotland. The Hughes Commission dates back to 1980, and in some respects it has been overtaken by events. An example would be the extension of rights of audience to solicitor-advocates. The Royal Commission then recommended maintaining the status quo, but solicitor-advocates are now well-established and doing an excellent job. The Faculty of Advocates has shown it can cope with the extra competition. That does not mean there is not still plenty of material in the Royal Commission's report, which remains as relevant as ever.
The most important thing will be to have a proper informed debate about the future of our institutions and how best they can contribute to the success of the country. I will seek to listen to and work with individuals such as Lord McCluskey.