Scottish Legal Complaints Commission lacks will to tackle complaints against lawyers despite huge public funding. The release of results of investigations carried out by the £4.5million joint taxpayer-lawyer funded Scottish Legal Complaints Commission into complaints raised by members of the public against law firms & individual solicitors, show that what was hailed as a ‘new broom’ in the world of regulating complaints against ‘crooked lawyers’ is in actuality, little more than a weak willed rubber stamp for corruption in the world of self regulation of the Scots legal profession.
Today for the first time, the results of investigations carried out by the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission reveal the astonishing lack of detail in their case handling procedures, and lack of will to even document the specific terms of complaints made against legal firms by clients whose cases ended up becoming victims of the legal firms they had approached to deal with difficult legal issues.
In the papers recently released, the client had been completely unaware they had a right to go to the Law Society of Scotland and contest the work of their legal representatives .. but the Law Society used their ‘time bar’ limitations to refuse to investigate the issues, which the SLCC itself backed.
Investigation #1 : SLCC said Law Society of Scotland did nothing wrong …
Investigation #2 : SLCC claimed Law Society did nothing wrong (again)
However, while the Law Society claimed the above complaints were outwith time bar, it is a fact the Law Society have on several occasions, investigated complaints made against law firms in cases where discovery of evidence was made many years later … making this case, and the SLCC’s refusal to do anything, rather questionable.
A spokesman for a consumer organisation who viewed the ‘results’ of the SLCC’s investigations into the way the Law Society had handled complaints against two Glasgow law firms, branded the contents '”lacklustre” and “a farce”, going onto condemn the organisation as a raw deal for Scotland.
He said : “I see little point in allowing the SLCC to continue its role if this amount of detail is all that is going to come out of investigations carried out by the SLCC into consumer complaints against solicitors. I’m sorry our organisation supported the SLCC now I’ve seen this … it’s a raw deal for the public after all the effort put in to get an improvement in consumer protection in the legal services market we badly need in Scotland.”
“There isn’t even any detail in the papers as to what the complaint was all about in the first place and the events surrounding it. Even the Scottish Legal Services Ombudsman used to give a complete account of the original complaint and the stages it went through at the Law Society of Scotland, amounting usually to some 30 pages plus of details. Here we have as little detail as possible which is not what the public expects of a regulator appointed to clean up the severe problems of self regulation of the legal profession.”
Well …after two Scottish Parliamentary inquiries into regulation of the legal profession, and the passing of the Legal Profession & Legal Aid (Scotland) Act 2007 which created the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission to clean up corruption in the world of complaints regulation against crooked lawyers … one would think that clients deserve a little more than this .. especially after well over £2 million of taxpayers money has been soaked up by the quango and a further £2.4 million from the legal profession itself.
You can read my earlier articles on the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission here : Scottish Legal Complaints Commission - a failure from the start
SLCC engages in website window dressing but still reluctant to investigate crooked lawyers. The SLCC, apparently anxious that its public image is now much less than trustworthy, is embarking on a reluctant media campaign ‘to promote itself to the community at large’ .. where leaflets and ‘road shows’ will inform the public of its existence and the services it provides consumers and solicitors. The plans may prove somewhat rocky as campaign groups and critics have pledged to attend the road shows and ask difficult questions of the way the SLCC operates and deals with the public, particularly in the wake of recent scandals which have seen SLCC board members appear in the press, apparently content to attack consumers & clients of ‘crooked lawyers’ while performing their costly regulatory roles.
Its fairly obvious the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission’s heart just isn’t in their work from the documents I’ve seen today, some published, some not.
As far as investigations of complaints against lawyers go, reports must be much more substantive in their account of matters and go into the complete detail of the issues which have caused the client to go to the SLCC or the Law Society of Scotland in the first place, otherwise no lessons will be learned by anyone, the client will never get a fair hearing, and justice will never be seen to be done (again) when it comes to dealing with crooked lawyers.
As one client put it tonight “No matter what this lawyer’s protection racket will do, they will never be trusted by the public who have been lied to too many times over complaints against crooked lawyers”.