Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Scottish lawyers begin Operation Blackmail

The Scottish legal profession are continuing their organised blackmail operation against the Scottish Executive to kill off reforms to the Scottish legal system and the way it is controlled by the Law Society of Scotland and their allies, by further bans on certain types of cases taken on by lawyers - the excuse being, that the legal aid does not pay enough (nothing to do with the client`s rights, really - just the rights of the lawyers to stuff their pockets even more on the public purse).

So we have a continuing situation where the various Bar Associations (under the indirect direction of .. guess who .. in Drumsheugh Gardens) .. are taking out sex crime cases from their duties of representation ... and who knows which other types of cases might follow on that list ... certainly not `lawyers suing negligent lawyers`, that`s for sure, because the Law Society of Scotland have already proved that this is impossible !

Read on for the article, from "The Scotsman", at :
Courtroom chaos looms as more lawyers ban sex cases

LAWYERS from two prominent bar associations have voted to join a boycott of sex crime cases, in a legal aid pay dispute which threatens to paralyse court proceedings across Scotland.

Members of the Hamilton and Edinburgh Bar Associations voted unanimously yesterday to stop taking on sex offence cases from August, unless a settlement can be reached with the Executive over payments for legal aid.

The move follows an identical declaration from the Glasgow Bar Association last week and so presents a united front of Scotland's three largest groups of lawyers. The proposal is expected to be endorsed by smaller, regional associations.

The planned strike is targeting sex offence cases because people accused of such crimes are not allowed to cross-examine witnesses in court, so without a defence agent, trials cannot go ahead.

Almost 1,000 sex offence cases in Scotland last year required publicly funded, legal aid representation.

"This will potentially have a huge impact on the criminal justice system," the Edinburgh Bar Association's president, Graeme Runcie, said.

Last night, the Executive said it had begun looking into contingency plans in case the strike went ahead.

A spokeswoman said the government was committed to ensuring fair payments and urged more talks.

The dispute centres on delays to the introduction of an improved "block" payment system, which lawyers say was promised two years ago. The new system will be the first pay adjustment in legal aid for 14 years.

Lawyers make £44 an hour for legal aid-funded sexual offender cases. The new system would see a shift away from itemised accounting, which lawyers say does not compensate them for preparatory work.

The Law Society of Scotland had been told the payments would be introduced at the end of last year. But to the anger of the profession, officials said in December the pay deal would be postponed until April 2007. Instead, the Executive offered lawyers an interim pay increase of 8 per cent for court work and 5 per cent for other work. The Law Society has said it will not settle for anything less than the equivalent of a 50 per cent increase.

Vincent McGovern, spokesman for the Hamilton Bar Association, which represents around 300 criminal defence laywers in the Hamilton area, said: "We know it would be difficult for the Executive to come up with the block payment system immediately.

But we want that speeded up as an imperative and in the meantime a substantial increase in the hourly rate."

An Executive spokeswoman said: "As we have made clear repeatedly to the legal profession, there is a deal already on the table to increase legal aid fees. The way forward in securing a fair and appropriate outcome - for the profession and for the taxpayer - is for continued dialogue. The Executive has made clear its commitment to talks and we continue to urge the legal professions to do likewise.

Meanwhile, we and the Crown Office are considering the position further on a contingency basis."

Last night, the Law Society of Scotland criticised the Executive for failing to meet lawyers despite promises to do so.

The society's Oliver Adair said: "The society is bitterly disappointed that, despite writing last week to the deputy justice minister and despite contacting the Executive by telephone and e-mail, we do not have dates for a meeting forthcoming."

No comments: