The debate we continue to report on how well the legal profession regulates itself, and protects its monopolistic control over access to legal services & representation in the Herald newspaper goes on, with the latest installment below.
Suffice to say that anyone who believes the Law Society "rigorously" inspects solicitors should have a word with a few thousand Scots who every year take issue with the quality of legal services on offer.
Surely the battle by the Law Society for the hearts, minds and wallets of the public would be better won by actions rather than empty words & ... well .. dare we suggest it .. lies ?
YOUR LETTERS August 17 2007
The correspondence about the Office of Fair Trading "super-complaint" has been illuminating and exasperating. The contributions from the legal profession (Messrs Lafferty and Semple, in particular) have sought to set out a reasoned and balanced position recognising the legitimate interests of both the public and profession. Unfortunately, the contributions from those supporting the complaint appear to rely on wild assertion, innuendo and mistaken premises.
Bryan Stuart's epistle (August 16) would be comical if it were not that many people will accept what he says as accurate. Mr Stuart claims he can only access the courts in Scotland by using a solicitor or advocate. He is wrong. Except in criminal cases where there are vulnerable witnesses, anybody can represent themselves. It might be foolish to do so, just as foolish as attempting to maintain your car without any mechanical training. If Mr Stuart doubts his own ability, he can obtain a non-qualified individual to appear for him in small-claim and summary-cause cases. His right to do so is enshrined in statute. He can instruct a non-lawyer to draw up his will or the disposition on the sale of his house. He can deal with a deceased relative's estate. What these non-qualified representatives usually cannot do is charge him for their services.
The analogy put forward by Calum MacDonald is quite apt. The Law Society regulates the profession and gives solicitors the equivalent of the licence to issue MoT certificates. Not much difference to garages, then! Despite Mr Stuart's bald assertion, the Law Society is rigorous in its inspection and regulation of solicitors. The profession is also answerable to the courts, the Financial Services Authority, the Health and Safety Executive, local authority trading standards departments, HM Revenue and Customs, the Scottish Legal Aid Board and others.
The question set by Mr Stuart was a fine rhetorical flourish. He did explain, however, why allowing anybody, no matter now lacking in training, ability or qualification, to build and put their car on the road will lead to festering piles of junk clogging our commercial arteries. The legal profession is a significant bulwark against oppression of the individual. Jettison at your peril.
Graham Bryson, 3 Carment Drive, Shawlands, Glasgow.