Dean of Faculty attacks legal aid & regulatory reforms as a threat to lawyers independence as prospect of political meddling by legal profession looms
Politics is alive & well in the legal profession it seems, with Roy Martin QC, the Dean of Faculty, using a recent admissions ceremony for new solicitors entering the Scottish legal profession, to attack the reforms of independent regulation brought forward in the Legal Profession & Legal Aid (Scotland) Bill, as well as having a rant at the drying up of the legal aid river of money flowing into his colleagues pockets.
Mr Martin, QC, is, of course,quite upset that the traditional practice of lawyer covering up for lawyer, has been thrown on it's head by the recently passed but long over due LPLA Bill, given that around 5000 plus complaints a year are made against solicitors in Scotland by clients on everything from embezzlement to fraud to theft of property, negligence, inflated accounts, falsified work, and just about every other crooked practice one could think of.
Unlike Mr Martin and his colleagues, those who don't have the convenience of professional self regulation' would normally be facing criminal charges and jail sentences on many of those complaints made by clients to the Law Society & Faculty of Advocates, but the convenience of self regulation by the Faculty & Law Society has certainly been successful over the years in protecting the many crooked lawyers in the profession from justice, while also making sure the client who has lost out at the hands of their legal representatives, gets little or no compensation .
The right to sit in judgement on one's colleagues & friends, to make sure they only get a slap on the wrist when caught with their hands in the till, is of course, why Mr Martin & his colleagues in the legal profession have for so long, fought tooth & nail to protect their self given right of self regulation - which the legal profession sought & gained from governments long ago.
We all saw, in the following examples of previous articles, how the legal profession & it's 'leading lights' attacked the proposed LPLA Bill, to make dealing with legal agents much fairer for the consumer, and we also saw how the Chief Executive of the Law Society, Douglas Mill, went one step further & threatened our Scottish Parliament with a Court challenge should the LPLA Bill not be amended to it's liking (although Mill actually preferred the legislation be killed off completely).
Who is a greater threat to the Parliament in that one then ? the public, or the legal profession ? ... seems the lawyers can even get away with threatening court action against our elected representatives, while any such attempt by a member of the public is laughed off ...because of course, the public would never be able to secure legal representation to actually take on such a case against the Parliament & win ...
However, Roy Martin's blast at the LPLA Bill may be more than just the rant of an upset lawyer because he didn't get his way ...
I understand several on-the-side meetings have been held between some members of the legal profession and some of Scotland's Political parties, with ideas being raised regarding limitation of the implementation of the LPLA Bill and scaling back of some of it's provisions - in exchange for possible donations & political support .. and no doubt some favours down the road .. such as those sticky secret mortgages on the side which quite a few ministers of the current Scottish Executive enjoy, paid for by us, the taxpayer, through their Parliamentary expenses allowances.
I wonder if the major political parties involved in the Holyrood elections may wish to comment on that one ?
Could this be a fundamental shifting of the power base perhaps in Scottish politics, where the legal establishment might just be setting out to make sure it's favored candidates get in after the elections, and that indeed ... all those promises contained in the LPLA Bill of independent regulation for lawyers & higher compensation payments to ruined clients, might just go the way of those provisions in the Law Reform (Misc Provisions) Bill 1990, which were to open up the rights of Courtroom representation to the client and break the monopoly of solicitors & advocates - who are still the only authorised representatives of the public in our courts.
We therefore have an example of that already in the above case ... so, no one can say it hasn't happened before ...
In an interesting development though, Roy Martin's tenure as Dean of Faculty proves yet again that nothing changes ... with only just last week, a complaints hearing against one of Scotland's most famous Advocates rigged so that the client wouldn't be able to attend ... certainly a sad indictment of regulatory practices as they stand .. and yet again more evidence, if required these people need to be left to educate their colleagues in the ways of honesty, transparency & competency, while someone else, outside the legal profession, handles the regulatory side of things.
A reminder to you all ... If you have experienced poor treatment from the Law Society of Scotland in a complaint or lost money to a crooked lawyer and nothing was done about it, Please sign Petition PE1033 and begin the campaign for redress and resolution to the way clients have been discriminated against by crooked lawyers & the Law Society of Scotland under their decades old prejudiced self regulatory complaints system.
Related article from the Herald newspaper with link :
Lawyers’ independence 'undermined by politicians'
DAVID LEASK March 19 2007
Scotland's top advocate has accused politicians of undermining the independence of his profession.
Roy Martin, QC, the dean of the Faculty of Advocates, warned of a creeping threat to lawyer's freedoms - just as they are needed most.
Mr Martin, in a hard-hitting message to Scotland's latest crop of young lawyers, fired a broadside against new regulation and legal aid funding problems eroding their time-honoured and cherished independence from the state.
He told an admission ceremony for newly-qualified solicitors at Edinburgh's Parliament House: "There is a danger that interests which do not properly recognise the importance in a civilised society of an independent legal profession are taking steps which have already undermined, and will continue to undermine, that independence. In a society where the individual citizen is increasingly subject to regulation and control by the state, what the lawyer does is unique because it is he or she who has the responsibility of standing between the citizen and the state in all its guises - and it is essential that the lawyer can do so, and be seen to do so, independently."
Mr Martin's speech, said to be the most controversial delivered at the event in a generation, summed up simmering discontent on what some lawyers see as interference from Holyrood, Westminster, and even Brussels.
The dean has already joined with other senior law figures in warning of what they see as a threat to the independence of the justiciary and attacking the executive's Scottish Legal Complaints Commission which, widely welcomed by lay people, will effectively end centuries of self-regulation.
However, a spokesman for the Scottish Executive last night dismissed any suggestion recent reforms would do anything to take away lawyers' freedoms.
He said: "The last four years have been a time of unprecedented reform in the justice system.
"New laws and procedures have laid the platform for a more efficient, more effective justice system that treats victims, witnesses and consumers with increasing care and respect."