Friday, July 15, 2011

Lawyers can talk, yet fee paying clients & court users remain shut out of Scottish Government review of the costs & funding of litigation in Scotland

Scottish GovernmentScots public have not yet been asked to give opinions on Scottish Govt. costs of justice review. THE continuing theme of inequality in how the legal profession are treated differently to consumers, fee paying clients & court users of Scotland’s Justice system has reared its head once again as questions surfaced today over why the actual people who pay for Scotland’s costly courts system, those being taxpayers, consumers, and obviously, real life court users such as party litigants & fee-paying clients of solicitors have so-far been excluded from a call for contributions to the Scottish Government’s Review of Expenses and Funding of Civil Litigation In Scotland.

While members of the public and actual court users have yet to be asked to input into Sheriff Taylor’s review of the Lord Justice Clerk, Lord Gill’s Civil Courts Review recommendations on lowering the long time extortionate cost of access to Scotland’s civil courts, it transpires the legal profession were invited to give their own input & opinions to Sheriff Taylor’s team some three weeks ago when the legal profession’s own internal media asked for Scotland’s solicitors to give their contributions to the Taylor review team directly.

A legal insider who brought the matter to the attention of Diary of Injustice earlier this week claimed the Law Society of Scotland were keen to encourage as many solicitors as possible to submit contributions with a theme highlighting the invaluable work of solicitors in the legal system on which it is to be claimed, the Scots public must depend on for professional legal services and thus, access to justice.

The insider said : “I understand the Law Society is keen to refute the notion that access to justice in Scotland is unnecessarily expensive and out of reach for most consumers.”

Documents & discussions made available to Diary of Injustice portray a legal profession willing to ‘talk down’ many of Lord Gill’s criticisms of the costs of litigation in Scotland’s civil courts, out of what appears to be lawyers main fears of losing fee-paying clients & huge profits. There appears to be little attempt on the part of the legal profession to address key concerns expressed by many that access to justice in Scotland is in reality only available to those with money, and is mainly something of a rip-off to anyone who manages to walk through the doors of a court.

Discussions also reveal senior lawyers appear to be engaged in attempts to discourage any wider assistance or encouragement for members of the public to literally take justice into their own hands by using or even becoming McKenzie Friends, an idea first recommended by Lord Gill in his Civil Courts Review and subsequently introduced to Scots case law in November 2009 after a ruling by Lord Woolman in what is Scotland’s longest running civil damages claim : M.Wilson v North Lanarkshire Council & Others (A1628/01).

Questions were put to the Scottish Government earlier this week and today about the lack of any invitation as-yet to consumers & actual court users to participate in Sheriff Taylor’s review. No response was received. The Taylor review team also failed to respond to enquiries.

Sheriff Taylor’s review team asked the legal profession for their thoughts & contributions nearly three weeks ago. The invitation to the legal profession, published 20 June 2011, stated : “One of the basic premises of the Review is that any recommendation should address an identifiable mischief in Scotland’s expenses and funding regime. To that end, the Review welcomes contributions from members of the profession as to where they consider change is required. Comments may then be invited on such suggestions in the consultation paper.”

“Contributions to the Review should be sent to Kay McCorquodale, Secretary to the Review, at Area 3 G South, Victoria Quay, Edinburgh EH6 6QQ or, if by email, to  Please advise if your response should be treated as confidential.”

While a consultation paper is intended to be published around August of this year, the Taylor review team have not yet invited members of the public or court users to give their thoughts on the costs & funding of litigation in Scotland for the proposed consultation paper.

To ensure an adequate consultation paper is produced, and to ensure the review team are able to hear from actual court users and those of us who end up paying huge amounts of money for legal services in Scotland, I would encourage those of you who have used our expensive Scottish “Victorian” justice system, to study the terms of the review, prepare a submission, and contact the Taylor review team by email, documenting your relevant experiences in the justice system, whether good or bad. I would also encourage any of those who wish to participate in the Taylor review, to also contact their MSP and ask them to submit their thoughts on the extortionate costs of accessing justice in Scotland.

More information on the Taylor Review can be found on the Scottish Government’s website, here : Review of Expenses and Funding of Civil Litigation In Scotland

In order to assist in formulating recommendations Sheriff Principal Taylor has appointed a Reference Group. The Group will meet from time to time, as and when required. Sheriff Principal Taylor alone will be responsible for the conduct and conclusions of the review. The Reference Group, as currently constituted, consists of the following members :

Ian Johnston, Claims Manager (Technical), Aviva Insurance (one of the insurance firms who are part of the Law Society of Scotland’s notoriously corrupt Master Policy), Paul Wade (Solicitor), Wendy Sheehan (Solicitor), Joyce Cullen (Solicitor), Ronnie Conway (Solicitor), Lindsay Montgomery (Chief Executive, Scottish Legal Aid Board), Andrew Smith QC (Faculty of Advocates), Shona Haldane QC (Faculty of Advocates), Paul Brown (Chief Executive, Legal Services Agency), Professor Alan Paterson (Strathclyde University, also currently sits on Scottish Legal Complaints Commission), Professor John Sawkins (Heriot-Watt University) Sarah O'Neill (Consumer Focus Scotland), Stewart Mullen (Law Accountant)

I initially reported on the Scottish Government’s announcement of Sheriff Taylor’s review in an earlier article in March of this year, here : Scottish Government delay reforms on costs of litigation & access to justice as Minister announces 18 month 'time wasting' review by retired sheriff

The announcement from the Scottish Government, made by the Minister for Community Safety, Mr Ewing, stated : “A review of the costs and funding of litigation in Scotland will be undertaken by Sheriff Principal James Taylor. This review was recommended by the Lord Justice Clerk, Lord Gill in his report of the Review of the Scottish Civil Courts. Sheriff Principal Taylor will begin the review when he retires from the bench in April. It is anticipated that the review will take around 18 months and the final report will be sent to the Scottish Ministers for consideration of further action, on completion.”

The terms of reference for the EIGHTEEN MONTH LONG review announced by the Scottish Government are :

To review the costs and funding of civil litigation in the Court of Session and Sheriff Court in the context of the recommendations of the Scottish Civil Courts Review, and the response of the Scottish Government to that review. In undertaking this review, to:

* consult widely, gather evidence, compare our expenses regime with those of other jurisdictions and have regard to research and previous enquiries into costs and funding, including the Civil Litigation Costs Review of Lord Justice Jackson

* consider issues in relation to the affordability of litigation; the recoverability and assessment of expenses; and different models of funding litigation (including contingency, speculative and conditional fees, before and after the event insurance, referral fees and claims management)

* consider the extent to which alternatives to public funding may secure appropriate access to justice, and pay particular attention to the potential impact of any recommendations on publically funded legal assistance

* have regard to the principles of civil justice outlined in Chapter 1, paragraph 5 of the Civil Courts Review

* consider other factors and reasons why parties may not litigate in Scotland

* report with recommendations to Scottish Ministers, together with supporting evidence within 18 months of the work commencing.


Lord Gill Lord Justice ClerkThe Lord Justice Clerk, Lord Gill, author of the Civil Courts Review. The Lord Justice Clerk, Lord Gill, in his speech to the Law Society of Scotland’s 60 year anniversary conference last year, reproduced in full here said : “The civil justice system in Scotland is a Victorian model that had survived by means of periodic piecemeal reforms. But in substance its structure and procedures are those of a century and a half ago. It is failing the litigant and it is failing society. It is essential that we should have a system that has disputes resolved at a judicial level that is appropriate to their degree of importance and that disputes should be dealt with expeditiously and efficiently and without unnecessary or unreasonable cost. That means that the judicial structure should be based on a proper hierarchy of courts and that the procedures should be appropriate to the nature and the importance of the case, in terms of time and cost. Scottish civil justice fails on all of these counts. Its delays are notorious. It costs deter litigants whose claims may be well-founded. Its procedures cause frustration and obstruct rather than facilitate the achievement of justice."

Against the background of Lord Gill’s criticisms of Scotland’s “Victorian” civil justice system, in which some cases continue to be heard by judges some fifteen years after they first entered the court system, the current Scottish Government have a poor track record of responding to the many recommendations contained in Lord Gill’s 2009 Civil Courts Review, as I have previously reported, here : Civil Courts Review one year on : Scotland’s out-of-reach justice system remains Victorian, untrustworthy and still controlled by vested interests & here : Scottish Government’s response to Civil Courts Review : Class Actions, more cases to Sheriff Courts, & faster, easier access to justice ‘over years’.

Sadly, many of the Scottish Parliament’s msps failed to push the SNP administration to address much of the 100 year plus malaise of Scotland’s civil courts system. Only a handful of Scottish politicians rose to the occasion to challenge the Scottish Government over Lord Gill’s recommendations. Video footage of those Holyrood debates on civil justice reform & Lord Gill’s Civil Courts Review can be viewed at LawyerTV.

Readers can find out more & download a copy of the Civil Courts Review report in pdf format, from the Scottish Courts Website at the following links :

Volume 1 Chapter 1 - 9 (Covers McKenzie Friends, procedures, advice etc, 2.99Mb)

Volume 2 Chapter 10 - 15 (Covers mainly the issue of Class (multi party) actions etc, 2.16Mb)

Synopsis of Civil Courts Review

My coverage of the Civil Courts Review from its publication to the present, and the pace of reforms to civil justice in Scotland can be found here : Civil Courts Review - The story so far


Anonymous said...

The Scots public must depend on professional legal services and thus, access to justice. The word spin comes to mind.

Interesting concept but the reality is that those who provide professional legal services also deny clients representation if the client is looking for legal redress against a member of the legal profession.

The Law Society and Scottish Legal Complaints Commission cover up lawyer corruption with the result the client is rightless. As one lawyer told me the legal system is not for exposing and suing crooked lawyers. How right he is. Out MSP's agree with him.

Anonymous said...

It is essential that we should have a system that has disputes resolved at a judicial level that is appropriate to their degree of importance and that disputes should be dealt with expeditiously and efficiently and without unnecessary or unreasonable cost.

The Law Society will want to crucify you Lord Gill, reasonable cost, in a reasonable time. The Law society business model is prolong disputes to hike up costs and cover it all up at the end of the day.

I have zero faith in MSP's and lawyers, they scratch each others backs to the detriment of the public.

Anonymous said...

Its delays are notorious. It costs deter litigants whose claims may be well-founded. Its procedures cause frustration and obstruct rather than facilitate the achievement of justice."

Yes Lord Gill it is not about justice more like business. I detest lawyers and would never trust another one, bad people that is what they are.

Anonymous said...

Scots public have not yet been asked to give opinions on Scottish Govt. costs of justice review.

Devolution a disaster which has resulted in the violation of human rights for the benefit of the few.

Anonymous said...

Whoever thinks a lawyer will tell this Sheriff's review "oh yes justice could be cheaper and we charge our clients a lot less money" is out of their fugging minds!

Anonymous said...

Perhaps the advocate being investigated for the 60k legal aid fiddle could give Sheriff Taylor an opinion on litigation costs..

Anonymous said...

Since I am a close follower of your blog Mr Cherbi nothing about this latest review of Lord Gill's own civil justice review surprises me.

Clearly they want to keep the pre consultation discussion to a lawyer only affair so the consultation questions can be framed to the legal profession's desires.

I hope your call for people to have their own say makes some inroads into the Law Society's probably heavily photocopied response form.

Best wishes from the night shift.

Anonymous said...

SNP launch a review of justice and the only ones excluded are real Scots WTF???

Anonymous said...

What a gang and only 1 consumer rep on their panel

Is this the way things are always done in Scotland?

Anonymous said...

If a car company's sales are down they usually bring out offers or lower the price of their cars in a matter of weeks.

So,why the hell does the Scottish Government give some Sheriff EIGHTEEN MONTHS to review costs of using lawyers and courts which we all know will come out and find nothing needs to change (for fear of upsetting greedy lawyers overcharging clients by whatever)

Easy way to save some money and reduce cost of justice is to stay the hell away from any lawyer!

Anonymous said...

Lawyers can talk, yet fee paying clients & court users remain shut out of Scottish Government review of the costs & funding of litigation in Scotland.

Nothing democratic about this, the Scottish Government are betraying the people who elected them and the majority of voters do not realise this fact.

Any vote for any potential or sitting MSP is a vote for the Law Society stranglehold on power. Politicians loyalties are with the lawyers.

Anonymous said...

Law Society justice is exclusion to any person who is a threat to its membership, and this means lawyers are protected not regulated.

Democratic principles are always undermined when powerful networks can influence policymaking to their advantage and your blog Mr Cherbi demonstrates MSP's are either afraid of lawyers or more likely simply biased. They do not put the legal needs of the people who voted for them first, so where is the accountability here?

Alex Salmond should be president of the Law Society.

Anonymous said...

So essentially more delay to be followed by more blank stares and further procrastination from the glove puppets otherwise known as MSPs....and all at our expense!

Anonymous said...

There is a two tier legal system that showed its true colours when Diana divorced Charlie boy.

Despite him being the son of the richest despot on the planet and inherited the Duchy of Cornwall a vast estate worth billions , she got a settlement of £17 mill. Now that may seem a substantial pay off, but in terms of the percentage of what Prince Charles was worth it is likely less than one per cent of the whole estate. Estates the Royals hide behind inferring they are all owned by an 'invisible' Crown. A crown that is used to manipulate their vast estates and protect them from the laws the rest of us have to endure.

Wills will inherit the lot when he eventually becomes king and if and when his own marriage collapses, and going by the long history of the royals that will be almost certain , the same thing will happen to Kate Middleton. She will get a fraction of the estate of King William if the marriage lasts that long, as the Queen and future monarchs control the British courts by hand picking the masonic lackeys who become the judiciary . They suggest they are at arms length from the legal and political systems but that is a blatant lie. The judicial mafia have a very different approach to men not part of their creepy network of power. These men are utterly destroyed left homeless, penniless and childless and ensures the Royals survive by weakening all men who they do not buy and control via their freemasonic secret society network controlled by the Duke of Kent.

Men across the UK and their future descendants cannot inherit their wealth, as very few survive a lifetime without being dragged into these secret courts and literally shafted. While the streets of London will be jumping with the royal 'sheeple' who don't have the ability to think for themselves and are groomed via their media systems to show allegiance to this mafia, the royal entitlement rolls on producing another layer of royal leeches that will live off the sweat and toil of the enslaved men their judicial goons fleece to prop up their own power, wealth and privilege. A shocking indictment of the way British men and their families are controlled by the biggest parasities on the planet.
I do not have a wife and no disrespect to women but I cannot afford one. A marrage certificate is a contract and men always come off worse if it goes wrong, unless the man in question is a Royal.

Look at ideas from say Darwin, he argued women could never attain the levels of genius of men but he was wrong. He ignored the fact that women were denied the opportunities available to men. An ordinary womans opinion would be sidelined but a princesses would not simply because of the womb she was conceived in.

Women are wonderful but marriage is a contract easy to get into and required lawyers to get out of, so I will abstain. Trust no lawyer.

Prince William will not get the shirt torn from his back if their marriage goes wrong, not like the majority of men who have a lot less to lose than Prince William.
She will receive a pittance in comparison with what Wills is worth, when ordinary men leave the courts penniless.

William will not get his estate stolen by the legal mafia who prop it up. He is protected in a way ordinary men are not because he was conceived in a Royal womb.

Anonymous said...

The continuing silence of Lord Gill's Committee members to this further blatant delay and one sided examination of their proposals identifying urgently required reforms is difficult to understand, far less endorse.

Anonymous said...


A mobile phone tycoon received public cash to fight one of Scotland’s biggest divorce cases

TAXPAYERS’ groups reacted with fury last night after it emerged a mobile phone tycoon received public cash to fight one of Scotland’s biggest divorce cases. Jim Morrison, 47, once ranked the country’s 13th wealthiest man, was granted legal aid in his four-year battle with estranged wife Diane. She demanded £20million after learning Morrison had fathered five children with two other women during their 21-year marriage.

Anonymous said...


Solicitor made "unnecessary and excessive" claims for legal aid and raked in over £600,000 of public money

LEGAL AID watchdogs have accused a solicitor who took £600,000 of taxpayers' money in two years of deliberately ramping up his claims. Niels Lockhart, 60, who runs a one-man firm in Kilmarnock, raked in £280,200 in 2004 then £321,400 the following year. After he ignored a warning to curb his claims, the Scottish Legal Aid Board investigated before a probe team concluded that his applications were a systematic attempt to create extra fees.

But despite deciding that he routinely made "unnecessary and excessive" claims, SLAB did not call in police. They referred Lockhart to the Law Society who also decided no fraud had taken place. The secret SLAB dossier, obtained through freedom of information laws, said: "Lockhart routinely makes consecutive grants of advice and assistance to the same clients for what appear to be similar matters submitted under a different guise. In the board's view, the ranges of actions taken by Lockhart towards achieving those payments are not those appropriate to a competent and reputable solicitor. "He arranges for, or permits, his clients to attend his office on numerous occasions for excessive, unnecessary and often irrelevant meetings.

"In the main, these do not appear to have advantages for their further welfare or advance their case but merely act as a mechanism for the firm to exploit the Legal Aid fund by charging for these unnecessary and unproductive meetings." The audit discovered Lockhart's firm was granted 392 "advice and assistance" applications for clients considering civil legal actions over 10 months in 2004 - more than double the number granted to the firm making the second highest number of similar applications. The report stated: "The analysis revealed persistent patterns of excessive client attendances, the vast majority of which are irrelevant, unnecessary and conducted without due regard to economy.

"This appears to the board to be a deliberate scheme by Lockhart to make consecutive grants of advice and assistance on behalf of the same client for the same matter for personal gain." Slab officials warned Lockhart about his claims in April 2005 but he "continued to show contempt for the board's serious concerns regarding his practices that were discussed at that meeting". That prompted SLAB to send their damning 13-page report to legal regulator the Law Society of Scotland in June 2006. Yet the Law Society did not report SLAB's concerns to police or refer him to the Scottish Solicitors' Discipline Tribunal.

It took them another four years to even agree Lockhart should be banned from legal aid. Last October, Lockhart's lawyer James McCann struck a deal with SLAB which allowed Lockhart to agree to quit legal aid voluntarily. He continues to do other legal work. A slab spokesman said: "The matter was not one of fraud and, therefore, not a criminal matter.

Anonymous said...

Compare what is being done under lawyers Legal Aid scams with any other company operations.

Take the example of a double glazing firm . They buy up any competition and are the only double glazing firm in the UK. They also have plenty of staff who PART TIME act as MPs who make legislation to protect that monopoly. They create a system were only their firm can fit double glazing and hike up the charges to extortionate amounts with NO COMPETITION.

They then create legislation stating that any new homes or existing homes require a minimum of double glazing to force people to use their services whether they can afford it or not. They instigate legislation that brings about a double glazing board who use public money to provide the funding for their activities for those least able to afford their bills. Then their victims are forced to pay that back over many years or their homes get repossessed when the charges become unbearable.

This is the bloody system our legal system is operating in and NO OTHER group or company could get away with this utter scam.

Anonymous said...

Legal aid winners

DONALD Findlay, QC, has topped the list for legal aid payments to advocates, for the second year in a row, receiving £358,400 last year.

The Glasgow-based law firm Ross Harper topped the solicitors' list, also for the second year in a row, at £1.732 million - and 11 other firms of solicitors were paid more than £1 million each. Top-earning solicitor advocate was Iain Paterson of Paterson Bell Solicitors, with £219,300.

Ten advocates each earned more than £200,000 in 2006-7. They are Donald Findlay QC (£358,400), Ian Duguid QC (£321,600), Edgar Prais QC (£272,500), Mhairi Richards QC (£269,800), Paul McBride QC (£237,800), Gordon Jackson (£228,500), Derek Ogg QC (£213,300), Lorenzo Alonzi (£213,100), Ronaldo Renucci (£212,100) and Thomas Ross (£208,600).


Anonymous said...

Women in doomed abuse case sue lawyer on £444,000 in legal aid

Women whose claims of rape and sexual abuse by a disgraced gynaecologist were thrown out of court in a legal debacle are to sue their former solicitor with cash help from the Law Society.

The women were represented by Jane Loveday, a solicitor who did nothing else for two years but pursue, in vain, the sexual assault claims. In the process, she picked up £444,000 in legal aid fees. Now, more than a dozen of her clients are saddled with unexpected legal bills of up to £15,000.

In the wake of the collapse of the case and scathing criticism from a High Court judge, Miss Loveday's practice has been put into liquidation. Miss Loveday faces being struck off while Richard Vosper, her husband and business partner, is being investigated on suspicion of impersonating a solicitor, a criminal offence.

In an unprecedented move, the Law Society - which became involved when it received reports of papers being burnt in the garden of Miss Loveday's office-cum-home on the day of the collapse of the case in February - is making funds available so former clients can receive independent legal advice on whether they can recover from Miss Loveday the costs they claim they believed they would never have to pay.

The society's initiative was praised this week by Mrs Justice Hallett. The High Court judge had earlier expressed "enormous concern" over Miss Loveday's conduct in pursuing a case in which, it was claimed, clients' statements were "sexed up" and even fundamentally altered - in one case turning an allegation of sexual assault into one of rape. "Plainly," said the judge, "on the evidence, she's not fit to be conducting any kind of litigation."

All the women were patients who claimed to have suffered at the hands of Rodney Ledward, an arrogant and notoriously incompetent gynaecologist, who performed a host of botched operations over 15 years in Kent hospitals before being struck off by the General Medical Council.

He died four years ago and, nine months later, Miss Loveday launched a class action against three health authorities claiming between £100,000 and £600,000 for each of the 59 alleged sexual assault victims on the basis of the NHS trusts' supposed negligence.

Anonymous said...

Whats up with Lord Gill?
The CCR started in 2007.Now its 2011 and we are to wait even longer to hear if lawyers feel the price of getting to court should be reduced (what a joke) and the politician who announced it is a lawyer himself (Fergus Ewing) so does anyone actually believe the price of justice will get cheaper after this review of the review of the review of the review?
I DONT!!!!

Anonymous said...

An ex-policeman who conned the benefits system of £16,000 to pay for his children to go to private school has been given 150 hours community service.

Colin Burgoyne, 48, from Edinburgh, initially legitimately claimed child tax credit to pay for nursery but when they left he carried on claiming.

Edinburgh Sheriff Court heard Burgoyne scammed £11,341.69 one year and £5,197 the second year.

Burgoyne admitted the offence that was between April 2006 and September 2007.

Burgoyne, a police constable, retired from service in April this year.

150 hours, that is £106.66 per hour, not bad. Might try it myself?

Anonymous said...

thank you

Anonymous said...

Absolute BS from the SNP and no wonder they want to keep anyone who has forked out for some scummy lawyer's huge bill from talking about it.

Also why should lawyers be allowed to make contributions to this review and insist on it being confidential?

Confidentially usually means CROOKED!

Anonymous said...

re the last comment I agree with your points.

Why is this review team accepting any confidential letters from lawyers if the debate is about reducing the cost of justice to the rest of us?