Scottish Government was wined, dined & lobbied by law firms, lawyer regulators, lawyer lobby groups & universities. A HOST OF LAW FIRMS who secretly wined, dined & in some cases lobbied the Scottish Government over the past three years on areas of law & justice where in some cases, the legal profession’s interests are known to conflict with those of consumers, won valuable contracts in the latest recession busting taxpayer funded TWENTY MILLION POUND legal project by the current Scottish Government to rapidly enlarge its already burgeoning 225 plus lawyer strong legal department to include even more Scottish law firms who are to provide legal services outsourced by the Scottish Government's Legal Directorate (SLGD).
The as yet unpublished details now been revealed in a Freedom of Information response by the Scottish Government showing a host of law firms, regulators, lawyer lobby groups & even universities have offered so many dinners to officials from the Justice Directorate, one Government insider jokingly said it should be named the Justice Dining Directorate.
Hospitality’s in for the Scottish Government’s Legal Directorate, as law firms who wine & dine officials win stake in 4 year £20 Million contract for outsourced legal advice. Some of the declarations of ‘hospitality’ include : 07/04/2008 Lunch Pinsent Masons, 18/04/2008 Lunch Dundas & Wilson, 26/06/2008 Meal Scottish Public Law Group, 29/05/2008 Lunch Dundas & Wilson, 20/08/2008 Meal and Edinburgh Festival Show Shepherd & Wedderburn, (No record held of date) Symposium and Dinner of the In House-Lawyers Group of the Law Society of Scotland Dundas & Wilson, 10/11/2008 invitation to In House Lawyers Dinner Burness (did not win a contract), Meal Glasgow University, 08/10/2009 Meal after Scottish Public Law Group Event, 13/11/2009 Invitation to WS Dinner LBC Wise Counsel, 3/11/2009 WS Society Dinner (invited as guest of Morton Fraser, Solicitors), 20/11/2009 Law Society of Scotland In House Lawyers Pinsent Masons, 20/11/2009 Dinner at In House Lawyers Group of Law Society of Scotland McGrigors, 15/01/2010 Meal provided by Glasgow University Law School Advisory Panel, 22/01/2010 Lunch Edinburgh University Law School, 25/02/2010 Meal after Scottish Public Law Group event Faculty of Advocates, 26/03/2010 15 lunch provided by Glasgow University Graduate Law School, 26/03/2010 Meal provided by Glasgow University Law School in connection with GLSS teaching to GU Diploma in Legal Practice students, 21/04/2010 Invitation Scotland PLC Dinner - Glasgow Hilton Hotel Law Society of Scotland, 17/08/2010 Attendance at Fringe show plus meal Shepherd & Wedderburn Solicitors, 27/10/2010 Dundas & Wilson Invitation to Chairman's Dinner, 11/03/2011 The Law Society of Scotland Dinner, 16/11/2010 Meal at Edinburgh University after Edinburgh Law School event "Scotland & Independence" 15/03/2011 Dundas & Wilson Invitation -Leadership Lunch.
Scrutiny of the above information released today reveal several law firms who wined & dined the Scottish Government over the course of the last three years, also managed to win tenders to provide the Scottish Government with additional legal services via the new framework agreement across five legal subject areas, complementing the work of the Scottish Government Legal Directorate (SGLD), which also manages the outsourcing of legal work. There is of course, absolutely no suggestion whatsoever the wining, dining or even any lobbying, helped win the law firms any contracts from the latest multi million pound subsidy offered by the Scottish Government to Scotland’s legal profession. It is merely, coincidence !
The full list of those law firms who won the tenders to provide extra legal advice to the Scottish Government are :
Contract, commercial and corporate – Dundas & Wilson CS; DLA Piper Scotland; Morton Fraser; MacRoberts; Pinsent Masons
Debt recovery: Harper Macleod; Maclay Murray & Spens; McGrigors; MacRoberts; Morton Fraser
Litigation, inquiries and employment: Anderson Strathern; Brodies; DLA Piper Scotland; Ledingham Chalmers; Morton Fraser
Major projects: Biggart Baillie; Dundas & Wilson CS; DLA Piper Scotland; MacRoberts; Pinsent Masons Property: Harper Macleod; DLA Piper Scotland; Ledingham Chalmers; McGrigors; Morton Fraser
The budget for this latest legal venture by the SNP Scottish Government to expand the numbers of lawyers working for the Scottish Government comes in at a whopping cost of an additional TWENTY MILLION POUNDS to taxpayers, bringing in a convenient taxpayer funded subsidy to some of Scotland’s hard pressed for profits law firms in the current recession.
The Scottish Government’s tender for the latest intake of law firms at vast taxpayer’s expense can be viewed online here : CONTRACT AWARD NOTICE £20 Million for a panel of law firms for four years although many of the web links contained within the tender which link back to the Scottish Government's website go to non-existent pages.
Diary of Injustice revealed in an earlier article Scottish Government spending £8.1 million on 225 lawyers salaries as more Scots miss out on legal representation, access to justice although it now appears two hundred & twenty five lawyers are not enough of a legal army to cover legal advice to Ministers, the Scottish Parliament and other departments including well known over budget quangos.
The new, if costly agreement will also be used through the Office of the Solicitor to the Advocate General, to source advice on Scots law for UK Government departments, agencies and NDPBs.
Bodies within the Scottish Administration which obtain legal advice from Scottish Government Legal Directorate include : Accountant in bankruptcy, HM inspectorate of Education, General Register Office for Scotland, Historic Scotland, National Archives of Scotland, Registers of Scotland, The Rent Officer, Scottish Prison Service, Scottish Public Pensions Agency, Social Work Inspection Agency, Student Awards Agency for Scotland, Transport Scotland.
The Scottish Government added in their FOI response they did not keep a hospitality register for the Government Legal Services For Scotland (GLSS), possibly because there is so much hospitality & work going on between the GLSS, law firms & the Law Society of Scotland, it would be an embarrassment to publish it.
THOSE WERE THE DAYS : In 2009, FOI revealed the Scottish Government had ONLY 225 lawyers :
FOI reveals MacAskill likes lawyers so much, he's employed over two hundred of them at our expense. Today it can be revealed the Scottish Government are spending a whopping £8.1 million pounds of public money on salaries alone of some 225 lawyers. The Scottish Government's FOI stated that : "The Scottish Government has 3 main offices which provide legal services to the Scottish Ministers and agencies for which they have responsibility: the Scottish Government Legal Directorate, the Office of Scottish Parliamentary Counsel and the Legal Secretariat to the Lord Advocate. These offices together employ 139 lawyers (as at 1 April 2009). The total annual salary for these lawyers (including national insurance contributions and superannuation) in financial year 2008-2009 was £8,146,000. In addition, a further 86 lawyers are seconded to other government offices and inquiries as part of the Government Legal Service for Scotland. Those lawyers’ salary costs are met by the host office or inquiry."
It is worth noting, nearly every day of every week of every month of every year, someone in Scotland writes to whoever happens to be the First Minister or Justice Secretary, seeking help on a usually complicated, irresolvable issue concerning Scotland’s justice system or legal profession.
As those who write these letters asking, pleading, even begging for help over long term legal difficulties will have realised as time goes on, no matter which political party occupies St Andrews House, the answers to such requests are always the same cold shoulder full of excuses offered by the massed ranks of civil servants who run the Scottish Government.
Clearly however, when it comes to lobbying, gaining favour, gaining changes to legislation which may affect business, or even wining Government contracts, the edge is gained by offering a few free lunches, rather than just a kind word or a letter. As the saying goes, you can get further with a kind word and a free lunch, than you can with a kind word …