The newly created Scottish Legal Complaints Commission, which was intended as a bold attempt to clean up Scotland's notoriously corrupt legal profession has just posted its rules on what types of complaints against 'crooked lawyers' it can and cannot investigate.
The final set of rules for the SLCC, which you can view here : SLCC Rules have been widely condemned by campaigners and consumers as having too many loopholes and let outs for the Law Society to take over investigations and shut them down as 'conduct issues' which the new Commission is not entitled to investigate.
However as a shock to many clients of solicitors who have complained against poor work or corrupt practice by their solicitors, anyone who instructs a solicitor to act before 1st October 2008. are to be excluded from any assistance from the new Commission, which is refusing to investigate any complaints against crooked lawyers before it begins work next week.
This refusal to look at complaints of the past conveniently excludes a huge amount of serious client complaints which the Law Society of Scotland has deliberately bogged down in paperwork lasting years in some cases, in the legal profession's long running battle against consumers to protect solicitors against complaints and financial claims at all costs.
From the Scottish Legal Service Ombudsman's website :
"It is proposed that the Commission will investigate complaints about service if you instructed the legal practitioner to do the work you wish to complain about after 1st October 2008. If the work you wish to complain about started prior to 1st October 2008 then the Commission will keep a record of it, but will pass the complaint to either the Law Society of Scotland or the Faculty of Advocates to investigate. If you are unhappy with the way those bodies handle your complaint the Commission may consider complaints about their handling."
A client involved in a current complaint being investigated by the Law Society of Scotland described the new Commission's complaints process as a 'fit up' and one which people "shouldn't be trapped into, as the entire process is controlled by lawyers and makes sure you get nowhere even if they steal every single penny you have".
He went onto say "The Law Society have deliberately drowned me in paperwork, delays, excuses and have done everything to stop me from getting some justice after my lawyer ruined me".
“I have been to 28 different firms of solicitors to try and get a lawyer to represent me in court and every one of them have refused to act for me, yet 2 of those firms took the case on and had to drop it after being ordered to do so by the Law Society”
“Having the same people on this new complaints body who have been part of the operation to kill my complaint, stop me from getting access to justice and basically steal my life away from me is not the way to improve complaints against lawyers”
The client's complaint apparently involves allegations of criminality and embezzlement which so far have not been passed over to the appropriate authorities by the Law Society of Scotland, which cannot investigate criminal matters .. but as many clients know .. the Law Society can certainly cover up even criminal issues to protect crooked lawyers.
Another client who also did not wish to be named, for fear of retaliation from the Law Society said "This new Commission is full of ex Law Society staff and members.Its just a new name for the Law Society who will see to it through their own people that complaints against crooked lawyers get nowhere as usual"
You can read more on my previous reports into the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission here : Scottish Legal Complaints Commission previous reports
… and if you are interested in reading a little more about some of the personalities on the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission and what they got up to before their new Ministerial appointment to the SLCC, you should go directly to the following article :
Kenny MacAskill always did say he would protect lawyers at any cost against anyone who wasn’t a lawyer …
As a reminder to everyone who the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission actually are, here is a ‘summary’ from the Commission’s website : Who we are
Jane Irvine (Chairing Member)
Jane Irvine has been the Scottish Legal Services Ombudsman since April 2006. She is a specialist in consumer complaints having held a number of positions as a mediator, arbitrator and adjudicator of consumer complaints. Between 2001-05 she was HM Lay Inspector of Constabulary, and considered the handling of complaints against the police in Scotland. She later prepared a report on modernising police complaint and conduct systems for the Justice Minister. She also sat on a range of disciplinary tribunals and currently sits on the Discipline Board of the Institute of Actuaries.
“This new Scottish Commission is an important body. It will provide a modern system for resolving complaints about legal services that both the profession and the public can have confidence in. I am delighted to have been appointed with such a strong group of commissioners who bring with them a diverse and exceptional range of skills and experience.”
Douglas Watson was a police officer for 30 years and is currently an adult protection development officer for Edinburgh, Lothian and Borders Executive Group. Mr Watson has previously been a chairing member of the Child Protection Committee, Scottish Borders Council and Edinburgh Drug and Alcohol Action Team. He was a lay Committee member for the Law Society of Scotland and is a Sessional Inspector with the Social Work Inspection Agency.
Linda Pollock has had a broad based career in the NHS with clinical, teaching, research and management experience. She was an Executive Nursing Director until 2006, and interim Board Nurse Director (2002-2003). Her last role, before leaving the NHS, was a full time secondment as the Chief Nursing Officer's Advisor for Nurse Prescribing. Dr Pollock was a part time nurse member of the Mental Welfare Commission (1997-2005) and is currently a registrant member of the Nursing and Midwifery Council Appointments Board
George L Irving CBE
George Irving was Director of Social Work North Ayrshire Council and during the period 1999-2000 he served as President of the Association of Directors of Social Work (Scotland). From 2001-2006 he was Chair of NHS Ayrshire and Arran. He led the National Support Team, Management of Offenders 2005-2007 and is currently a Visiting Professor to Glasgow Caledonian University School of Health and Social Care.
Ian Gordon OBE, QPM, LL.B (Hons)
Ian Gordon is a retired Deputy Chief Constable of Tayside Police. He is currently an associate professor in policing for Charles Sturt University (Australia). He was Chair of the Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland (ACPOS) Professional Standards Business Area and Vice-Chair of ACPOS General Policing Business Area.
Alan Paterson is Professor of Law and Director of the Centre for Professional Legal Studies at Strathclyde University, an independent "Think Tank" on the Scottish Legal System. He has researched in, and published on, the regulation of lawyers and the provision of public legal services for over twenty years. Although he is qualified as a solicitor in Scotland, Professor Paterson has never practised. He served as a co-opted member of the Council of the Law Society between 2001-2008. He is currently a research adviser to the Scottish Legal Aid Board, and a member of the Judicial Appointments Board.
David Smith is a retired solicitor. He was a commercial property partner with Shepherd and Wedderburn LLP for 34 years, including 6 years as Chairman. He has extensive experience of client relations, professional negligence and risk management.
Margaret Scanlan is an accredited specialist in family law at Russells Gibson McCaffrey. She has also tutored in family law at Glasgow Caledonian University. Mrs Scanlan was a member and latterly Deputy Chair of the Scottish Legal Aid Board between 1997-2007. She has also been Director of the Legal Defence Union between 1998-2002. Mrs Scanlan was a founder member of both Strathkelvin Women’s Aid and the Family Law Association. She held the post of Chair of the latter between 1992-93.
David Chaplin was the senior partner in Anderson Fyfe for 17 years until his retiral in 2008. He is a specialist in insolvency law. He was the Client Relations partner for ten years and he advised in pre litigation resolution of commercial disputes for clients. He was a member of the Education Committee of the Royal Faculty of Procurators in Glasgow during 2004-05