Despite the promise of 'a new era' in dealing with complaints against crooked lawyers and attempts to improve the appallingly poor quality of Scotland's overpriced legal services market, the Law Society of Scotland are still choosing to undermine the very foundations of client care, with more of the usual policies, sanctioning lawyers disgraceful treatment of clients to the point of ruin.
One of a number of comments on my earlier article on legal fees here : Solicitors target clients with ‘sky high’ legal fees as Scotland's billion pound legal industry slows down went onto show how poor client care is regarded in the Scots legal profession :
“When confronted by a large legal bill of approximately £10,000 from the defenders in a personal injury case I instructed the solicitors then representing me to lodge a motion to the Court of Session on basis you outline, that is, the clear potential for a serious conflict of interest arising given the Auditor of the Court of Session would be ruling on matters relating to a fellow professional's expenses.
My solicitors refused to submit the motion, claiming it was incompetent. When I suggested it was for the Court to decide this and I should at least be allowed the opportunity to present the motion and receive the Court's decision my solicitors threatened to withdraw if I insisted on submitting the motion.”
Not much in the way of client care there … is there ? Could there be some kind of accounting fiddle going on too while one lawyer is tasked to investigate another colleague’s expenses ? Maybe you too are getting a fiddled bill in from your lawyer in a now common fraud by solicitors against unsuspecting clients …
So, while preaching an emphasis on caring for the client, and attending to good service with one hand, the Law Society’s ‘other hand’ is being used again to undermine what it publicly preaches, in favour of a more sinister policy of protecting its members once again from negligence claims and complaints against poor work …
Recently there has been an upswing in 'profession orders' from the Law Society to solicitors to dump clients who are either complaining against another solicitor, or are trying to lodge court cases for negligence or financial recovery of damages from lawyers who have ruined clients.
A very recent example letter follows below, from the Law Society of Scotland to a solicitor, which was 'inadvertently' sent to the client by a member of that solicitor's staff, and then forwarded to me, goes to show there is no let up even now in how low the Law Society feels it can treat members of the public and get away with it :
I am writing to you with reference to your client Mr ****'s negligence claim against Messrs **** & **** . I would emphasise this is private correspondence between us which is under no circumstances to be disclosed to your client.
I note your client is seeking to have the various papers he is in possession of relating to the investigation of the complaint against Mr **** submitted in evidence for his negligence claim.
I also note from the terms of your letter your client apparently is insisting on calling witnesses from the Law Society of Scotland who took part in the investigation of the complaint made against Mr ****.
In consideration of the above information you have furnished us, I recommend you withdraw from acting from your client immediately and make it as difficult as possible for any potentially dangerous material to be returned to your client in the file.
* I have been asked to remove names & identities of those concerned for now, on the instructions of the client who sent me the letter.
I, of course, am not surprised in the slightest at the above letter, as this is a well trodden path for the legal profession when dealing with clients who have been ruined by one of their colleagues. It just goes to reinforce what has already been reported by myself and attested to by others over the years, the Law Society of Scotland is, a corrupt institution, and must be denied any future regulatory role in complaints or client claims made against solicitors.
I am not surprised ... why ? Well, just look at a few similar letters I have reported on in the past .. together with input from Cabinet Secretary for Finance Mr John Swinney (SNP) who bravely exposed another such letter in the Scottish Parliament itself.
John Swinney MSP exposes Law Society Chiefs who ordered lawyers to dump clients who were ruined by crooked lawyers
On my own case too, I received similar treatment from none other than Law Society Chief Executive Douglas Mill and Director of Client Relations Philip Yelland, who personally intervened in both my legal aid claims, and ordered my solicitor not to take instructions from me which like the above letter quoted, sought to prevent my inclusion of evidence gathered by the Law Society against well known crooked Borders lawyer Andrew Penman of Stormonth Darling Solicitors, Kelso, whom you can read more about from the Scotsman stories on that case here :
Here are copies of the actual letters from Philip Yelland ordering my solicitor not to take my instructions on the claim against Andrew Penman, and Law Society Chief Executive Douglas Mill ordering my legal aid be refused here :
'I order you not to help your client Mr Cherbi or take his instructions on submitting evidence in his negligence claim against Andrew Penman'
Complaint by Peter Cherbi against Andrew Penman
I refer to your letter of 30 July which my colleague Mary McGowan responded to during my absence on annual leave.
I would ask you to note the reference number on this letter which is in fact the correct reference number rather than the reference number quoted on the previous correspondence to you which relates to the subsequent complaint made by Mr Cherbi against Andrew Penman which is currently held in abeyance until such time as the negligence action has concluded.
I think that I should also draw to your attention at this stage terms of Section 56A of The Solicitors (Scotland) Act 1980 as it seems to me that this is relevant to the issues which you are seeking to raise.
In terms of sub-paragraph (1) the taking of any steps under Section 42A (2) of the Act (that is a finding of inadequate professional service) shall not be founded upon in any proceedings for the purposes of showing that the solicitor in respect of whom the steps were taken was negligent.
In addition in terms of sub-section (2) any award of compensation made in respect of a finding of inadequate professional service may be taken into account in any computation of an award of damages to be made following on negligence proceedings.
I thought it only proper given that you had written to this office that these matters were drawn to your attention.
Philip J Yelland
So, what was Mr Yelland doing writing to my lawyer telling him not to take my instructions on submitting the evidence of the complaints investigation against Andrew Penman which I wanted heard out in the Court of Session ?
Were the Law Society so desperate they didn’t want all the dirty details of what happened at the Complaints Committee coming out in public, where Senior Law Society member James Ness had inserted false evidence and personal attacks to save Mr Penman in a routine which until then had been kept secret from most clients who lodged complaints against their solicitors …
Now the turn of Douglas Mill, who was determined to prevent my access to the court at any cost, even ensuring I wasn’t able to ask for a Judicial Review against how the Law Society Complaints Committee and a few of its top staff saved crooked lawyer Andrew Penman. Telling a few lies and half truths was certainly not beneath a rather desperate Douglas Mill as his letter to the Legal Aid Board demonstrates :
Cancel Peter Cherbi's legal aid claim and any access to justice on my orders or else …
Legal Aid Application - Peter Cherbi
I write to acknowledge receipt of your letter of 20 March together with the copy of the intimation of Mr Cherbi's application for civil legal aid.
The Law Society would not wish to formally object to his application for Legal Aid but, I think it is only proper that I draw certain issues to your attention.
The complaint which Mr Cherbi made against Mr Penman was fully investigated by the Law Society and upheld. there was a finding of misconduct made against Mr Penman and also an order made in relation to the inadequate professional service provided.
Mr Cherbi thereafter exercised his right to refer the Law Society's handling of the matter ot the Scottish Legal Services Ombudsman. the Ombudsman made certain recommendations some of which were accepted by the Law Society.
It is understood that Mr Cherbi seeks to judicially review the decision of the Council of the Law Society not prosecute Mr Penman before the Discipline Tribunal. the point which I would wish to emphasises is that whilst Mr Cherbi is clearly a person with an interest to complain and was entitled to make his complaint, it is for the Law Society in terms of the relevant legislation to determine, firstly whether the complaint can be upheld and then to determine the appropriate penalty.
The complainer does not have a part to play in determining penalty.
I will be grateful if you would acknowledge receipt of this letter and confirm that these commends have been noted. I note, incidentally, that the intimation document which you sent did not reach the Law Society presumably because the Law Society's full address was not included on it.
These letters on my own case are quite a common occurrence when clients of crooked lawyers find they can no longer gain access to justice or legal representation, the reasons for that being clear in the 'professional orders' handed down to solicitors from the Law Society, however, it is very difficult for a client to get hold of such material, believe me.
In one now famous case where there was a 'leak' from the Law Society of Scotland on the personal memos of Douglas Mill & others, did the true extent of the Law Society's ability and determination to prevent members of the public from obtaining access to justice in claims against crooked lawyers.
You can read more about that case involving a client who was able to testify before the Scottish Parliament in the following articles :
The determination of the Law Society to keep such a deniable policy afloat even led to it's Chief Executive and senior staff appearing before the Scottish Parliament and simply telling lies to deny what has become obvious to all - a policy to protect crooked lawyers at any cost whatsoever.
Law Society Chief Exec Douglas Mill – despite what my own memos say, I never fiddled complaints against crooked lawyers !
So, there we have it folks, for "Client Care", read "Client Control", and for "access to justice" read "control of access to justice".
What right if any does the Law Society of Scotland have to preach "Client Relations" when all it does is ensure that clients have no access to justice or legal services if it turns out like an increasing number of people, they have been defrauded by their solicitors ...
However, the Law Society with its seemingly vast army of paid political allies (some of whom seem to be in receipt of free legal services), continues on in its unchecked ways, reminding everyone, who is actually in control of the legal services and to this end, an impending, if imaginatively titled conference "Client Care and avoiding client dissatisfaction" hosted by the Law Society of Scotland, is listed as having the following aims :
(1) Identify areas which can give rise to client concerns and complaints
(2) Suggest ways of avoiding these issues
(3) Put forward ways of how they can be dealt with if and when they arise
Well, identifying areas which give rise to client concerns and complaints shouldn’t be too difficult … lying to clients, cheating clients, embezzling clients finds, ripping off the estates & wills of dead clients, stealing clients land & property … all areas which could give rise to client concerns & complaints, yes ?
Suggesting ways of avoiding the above … well .. that would be teaching and ensuring much higher standards of legal service, by keeping a watchful eye on the profession (which the Law Society has obviously not been doing) and ensuring that lawyers don’t continue with their present attitude of ‘lets rip off clients because we know we can get away with it’.
Putting forward ways of dealing with the above … well well well … I have a few things to say about that, as I’m sure many of you do too ! but put simply, an effective, independent regulatory body, fully accountable and transparent, with strong powers of enforcement, would just about do the trick, and of course, not forgetting opening up the legal services market fully to competition, to ensure that when lawyers feel they have to boycott an individual’s right of access to justice, that individual can still go somewhere else.
After reading all of the above, have a look here at the Law Society’s idea of a Client Care conference :
CPD: 2 hours (Other)
26 November 2008, The Law Society of Scotland
Client Care and avoiding client dissatisfaction has always been important in trying to avoid complaints. The creation of the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission dealing with service complaints alone will see a change in the regulatory structure in 2008.
The aim of this event is to:
Identify areas which can give rise to client concerns and complaints;
Suggest ways of avoiding these issues; and
Put forward ways of how they can be dealt with if and when they arise
The aim of the event is to try to ensure that practitioners are aware of these issues and to give an indication in general terms about how the Commission is at this stage developing.
Philip Yelland from The Law Society
Philip Yelland from The Law Society
Russell Lang from Marsh
Jane Irvine, Chair of the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission
Registration: 5.30pm Seminar: 6pm - 8pm
£55.00 + £9.62 VAT = £64.62
If the legal profession want to hear from clients themselves (which they obviously don't), why not let in clients for free ?
Could it be that Philip Yelland would rather order solicitors to drop their clients, not take their instructions or see to it they never get access to legal services again, rather than teach how clients should be respected and not ripped off or have their access to justice limited ?
Perhaps a good idea now would be for Jane Irvine, the Chairman of the 'new' and supposedly independent Scottish Legal Complaints Commission to hold some client care conferences at the SLCC and get the public perspective on how client care should develop, not the
wishes orders from the legal profession itself.