Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Discipline Tribunal allows solicitor facing 21 negligence claims to retain practising certificate

The Scottish Solicitors Discipline Tribunal is back in the dock for failing to adequately protect consumers from rogue solicitors, this time, the dishonour falls to solicitor John G O’Donnell from Glasgow, who, facing over 21 negligence claims from clients, has been allowed to retain his practicing certificate by the SSDT and Law Society of Scotland. (No wonder the public think the Law Society and SSDT are both crooked ! – Ed)

Peter Cherbi’s “Diary of Injustice in Scotland” law blog reports on the case :

Law Society ‘puppet’ tribunal allows crooked lawyer to remain in practice as fraud levels soar in Scots legal profession

Law SocietyLaw Society puppet tribunals protect crooked lawyers. Consumers of legal services in Scotland remain as unprotected as ever from the crooked element of the Scottish legal profession, as the media report the latest failure of self regulation by the Law Society of Scotland & the Scottish Solicitors Discipline Tribunal, that of allowing well known solicitor John G O’Donnell, from Glasgow, to remain in practice, despite a trail of client complaints and deception stretching back years.

REVEALED - Top Lawyer at the centre of 12 negligence claimsSunday Mail previous report on claims against John G O’Donnell. Mr O' Donnell, is still facing over 21 client claims for negligence against his work as a solicitor, but while the SSDT and the Law Society have pursued the complaints, and issued one of the weakest punishments available to them, the damages claims for negligence, which are being handled by the Law Society's infamously corrupt Master Insurance Policy remain to be settled, and as one ex-member of staff from the Law Society said this morning "will probably take years to settle".

You can read the full Discipline Tribunal report here : SSDT findings on John G O'Donnell or, alternatively, HERE

The Scottish Solicitors Discipline Tribunal decision : “The Tribunal find John Gerard O’Donnell, 15 Clarkston Road, Glasgow; Find the Respondent guilty of Professional Misconduct in respect of his failure to comply with undertakings given to an individual and that individual’s solicitor, his unreasonable delay in having a lease completed and registered and his misleading the individual and the individual’s solicitor in that regard and his failure to advise the individual and the individual’s solicitor of the true position, his failure to comply with the guidelines on mandates 1998, his misleading the Law Society and his unreasonable delay on a number of occasions in responding to the reasonable enquiries of the Law Society.”

.. and for all that, no fine, and only a restricted practising certificate !

Philip Yelland - Director of Regulation - Law Society of ScotlandPhilip Yelland, in charge of standards at Law Society for years, but still plenty of John G O’Donnells & Andrew Penmans. As you can see from the decision handed down by the puppet Discipline Tribunal, Mr O’Donnell, like many other solicitors who handle their clients affairs so badly, has been allowed to remain in practice, and the only reason this case got to the Tribunal was because the Sunday Mail was keeping tabs on the case. If there had been no media attention, it is highly likely that Mr O’Donnell, just like many other lawyers, some even charged with criminal offences, would have walked free after a complaints whitewash from his legal colleagues at the Law Society of Scotland.

It is of note there is not one shred of concern for the clients or their many claims for negligence, currently being strung out, delayed, meddled with, fiddled with, and generally wiped out by the dirty tricks department of the Law Society, of which many of us have come to know and experience over the years.

You can read more about how the Law Society deals with negligence claims made against Scottish solicitors here : Lawyers negligence insurance branded corrupt, anti-consumer as evidence reveals only one per cent of clients get chance of payout

Scottish Legal Complaints CommissionSLCC of no help to victims of O'Donnell. Asked today if the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission would be of any help to the many victims of Mr O'Donnell, a legal insider said "The Scottish Legal Complaints Commission are about as much use as a dead duck. They have spent most of their time so far doing what is best for themselves, and have passed most complaints back to the Law Society simply because they are too hot to handle."

He went on "I don't see how the SLCC can justify their existence when all they have done is grumble about the size of their salaries, threaten to resign just because they had no Personal Insurance cover, and are trying to avoid taking up most of their responsibilities to protect clients from the likes of O'Donnell, while charging the legal profession and soaking up public money like a sponge."

Sensationally a retired solicitor, sickened by the constant scandals within the legal profession spoke out last night, warning the public they would have to do more against crooked lawyers or face their own legal problems when they needed a solicitor.

He said : "As long as solicitors don't fear regulation, there will always be 'crooked lawyers' out there getting away with whatever they can. Just look at what Mr O'Donnell has been up to, and the time it has taken the Law Society and the SSDT to do something, which at the end of the day amounted to a slap on the wrist."

ScottishGovernmentScottish Government accused of looking the other way on crooked lawyers. He also went on to accuse civil servants within the Scottish Government, and politicians of allowing the legal profession to circumvent the rights of clients whenever they felt like it. He said : "I was a solicitor for 30 years, and its no secret among us the Law Society, civil servants & Ministers within the Scottish Government share a common purpose in preventing fully independent regulation from being a reality and ensuring proper oversight of what you regularly describe, with some justification, as a thoroughly corrupt legal profession."

Strangely enough, I have reported on that subject nearly two years ago : Justice Secretary rejects independent regulation of lawyers and public right of choice in legal services market

An official with a consumer group said : "If you think about it, it's almost as if paedophiles can call up Government Ministers or civil servants and get them to drop charges against them. That is the extent of what happens between the Law Society and Scotland's elected lawmakers. A cosy relationship that neither wish to end because its been so profitable to both in the past, and be warned, they will do anything to protect it."

Here is an example of just how far that relationship between the Law Society and the Scottish Government goes :

Kenny MacAskill defends the O’Donnell’s of his beloved legal profession at all costs, regardless of their victims plight.

John G O Donnell Sunday Mail 19 April 2009Exclusive: Watchdogs force one of country's worst lawyers out of firm

Apr 19 2009 By Russell Findlay

ONE OF Scotland’s worst lawyers has been forced out of business by legal watchdogs. John O’Donnell, 58, was accused of having “contempt” for the Law Society of Scotland by repeatedly snubbing clients and ignoring complaints.

He has been banned from working unsupervised for five years by the Scottish Solicitors’ Discipline Tribunal (SSDT). It means he can no longer run his own law firm but can still work as a lawyer.

Legal reformer Peter Cherbi of Injustice Scotland said: “This lawyer is unfit to practise and should have been struck off. Instead he gets a slap on the wrist. “Again the Law Society and SSDT have failed to protect the public. This shows self-regulation doesn’t work.”

The Sunday Mail first exposed O’Donnell five years ago when cops probing an alleged money laundering gang raided his John G O’Donnell & Co office in Cathcart, Glasgow.

We revealed he faced at least 21 negligence complaints and compensation claims of more than £1million. But it took until last year for the SSDT to find him guilty of six counts of misconduct including breaching money laundering rules. O’Donnell claimed he suffered depression but had a clean bill of health and got off with a £500 fine.

He was finally forced out of business by an SSDT ruling in February, details of which were only released last week at the Sunday Mail’s request.

The SSDT found he lied to clients, their lawyers and the Law Society, and said they were “not convinced” by his explanations. They added: “It is imperative solicitors are honest at all times.”

One legal source said: “He got away with playing the sickness card for years. “This smacks of too little, too late.”

O’Donnell, who did not return our calls for comment, is trying to sell his business before the ban begins on June 1 but can still advertise his services until then.

A legal insider said: “This guy was subject to discipline last year. “Yet he is trusted to wind up the affairs of his clients and none of them are aware of what is happening.”

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