Thirteen year old motion at Westminster reveals long standing knowledge of corruption at Law Society of Scotland and its ‘Master Policy’ Insurers. An Early Day Motion from the UK’s Westminster Parliament during early 1996 has revealed long standing knowledge by politicians of intense corruption at both the Law Society of Scotland and the insurers who manage & underwrite the Scottish legal profession’s ‘Master Insurance Policy’ arrangements to cover crooked & negligent lawyers against claims by ruined clients.
Amazingly, the details of this motion and testimony connected with the original case, which was raised in 1996 by the now deceased Labour MP Gordon McMaster, have been conveniently left out of discussions and investigations by the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission over their role of ‘monitoring’ the claims process of the Master Policy & Guarantee Funds which clients are forced to go through to try and claim damages against losses inflicted on them by the massing ranks of rogue & crooked lawyers in Scotland.
Gordon McMaster’s Early Day Motion reads : “That this House is astonished to learn of the case of Iain McIntyre of Paisley who has suffered estimated losses of £2.7 million due to a series of incidents of negligence and bad faith at the hands of consecutive firms of solicitors; finds it incredible that what started out as a simple conveyancing error has developed into a 10 year legal nightmare of horrific complexity involving seven court processes; believes that inherent conflicts exist between the Law Society of Scotland's duties to guard the public interest and protect its members' interests which have forced Mr McIntyre to endure the loss of his business, the forced sale of his home, long periods of severe depressive illness and liability for expenses amounting to £173,000”.
The motion goes onto state : “further believes that it is unjustifiable that the Law Society of Scotland holds the master professional indemnity insurance policy which has built into it penalties and bonuses which give solicitors a vested interest in minimising negligence claims at unfair levels; is convinced that the principle of Scots law that everyone is entitled to independent legal representation has been breached by the Secretary of the Law Society of Scotland actively encouraging one firm of solicitors to cease acting for Mr McIntyre; and calls for a judicial inquiry into Mr McIntyre's case and an urgent review of the self-regulatory status of the Law Society of Scotland.”
A legal insider commented on the 1996 Westminster motion condemning the Law Society and its infamous Master Policy, claiming : “No one in Scotland wants to talk about this now because it proves many politicians and those in the legal world have known for decades that the Master Policy is a corrupt arrangement forcibly held in place by the Law Society to protect its members from claims against their negligent services and corruption involving clients funds.”
He continued : “It beggars belief that 13 years after this was made public, the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission are still struggling with discussions on how to develop their reluctant remit to monitor the Master Policy which the London Parliament clearly condemned all those years ago.”
Huge levels of corruption at Law Society of Scotland prompted Westminster condemnation. The McMaster motion at Westminster came several months after a series of media reports in the Scottish newspapers about corruption in the claims process against crooked lawyers in Scotland, which frequently saw the Law Society intervene to kill off the legal representation of any clients who were trying to pursue crooked lawyers through the Scottish Courts, and in an 1995 interview related to the case which resulted in the McMaster motion at Westminster, Scottish Television’s Bernard Ponsonby revealed the scale of client claims against crooked lawyers in Scotland in the early 1990’s, which have rocketed nearly two decades later, stating : “In the four years from 1989 to 1993 the premiums paid into the Master Policy have totalled £24,833,000, in the same period £27,441,000 has been paid out in actions against solicitors, a deficit of over £2,600,000.”
Mr Ponsonby reached some pertinent conclusions in the interview such as : “Pursuing justice against negligent solicitors requires a deep pocket and great patience, many potential litigants have neither, they have to live with the results of injustice forever !”. You can download the STV transcript of that interview here : STV's Bernard Ponsonby interview & report on Master Policy
However, the Law Society of Scotland and insurers have now made the claim game against crooked lawyers an almost impossible task for clients, with routine intervention from the Law Society now commonplace, resulting in many negligence claims against crooked lawyers going to the wall, and even suicides of clients whose claims have failed. You can read a previous article about the Master Policy here : Suicides, illness, broken families and ruined clients reveal true cost of Law Society's Master Policy which 'allows solicitors to sleep at night'
Scottish Legal Complaints Commission don't want to hear about Master Policy ‘suicides’. Reaction as we have seen at the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission to the ‘suicides’ side of the Master Policy has been minimal, with the SLCC’s board members and senior staff seemingly intent on talking down the whole question of regulating the Master Policy, preferring to indulge in name calling and insults against the Master Policy’s victims, rather than actually engaging their experiences for useful application. After my report last week on David Smith and Eileen Masterman’s bitter accusations against consumers who took part by invitation in the SLCC’s own Master Policy investigation, Jane Irvine, the SLCC’s Chair said no comment could be issued, citing “Mr Smith was not available for the next two and a half weeks”.
A participant in the SLCC’s Master Policy investigation commented : “Perhaps Smith is away doing some frequent flying of his own. I wonder if he and the rest of the SLCC would like to meet the family of a dead client who put both barrels of a shotgun in his mouth and blew his brains out after finding out his lawyers had been stitching his Master Policy claim up all the time they were working on it. Would he call them frequent flyers too ?”
Scottish MSPs don’t want to raise motions condemning corruption in the legal profession. Of course, while Westminster seemed well convinced of corruption at the Law Society of Scotland some thirteen years ago, the road to obtaining even an investigation into the Master Policy in Scotland and proper independent regulation of the legal profession has proved distinctly rocky, as most MSPs at Holyrood who are called in by constituents with similar problems against ‘crooked lawyers’, openly refuse to raise such motions in the Scottish Parliament, even though they certainly have the power to do so.
One well known consumer activist today put MSPs reluctance to raise motions against injustice and the legal profession down to “fear of upsetting lawyers and the Law Society”.
He said : “Most Scottish politicians when faced with a choice between helping a constituent against the legal profession itself, or remaining in favour of the legal profession, will take the latter option. It is simply a more profitable arrangement for them. Helping a constituent will produce little by way of return, but remaining in the favour of the legal profession invariably produced high returns for many politicians as we have seen occasionally revealed in newspaper headlines over the past few years.”
Given the apparent lack of understanding by the SLCC’s board members as to the difficulties faced by those clients & members of the public who become involved with the Master Policy, it may do some good for the likes of David “Frequent Flyers” Smith, and Margaret “Chancers” Scanlan to have a read of the 1996 Westminster motion, although as one Commission insider pointed out on Monday, “… anyone with chips on their shoulder within the commission who has to resort to that kind of language against people they are supposed to be there to help, are long past understanding the public’s point of view and experiences regarding those in the legal profession.”
I would tend to agree … so, when do we see some action against the Law Society and their corrupt Master Policy ?
How many more clients lives is the Law Society going to use up to ‘allow crooked lawyers to sleep at night’ and why all the opposition to opening up a review of failed claims where the Law Society intervened and stopped such cases progressing ?