Monday, August 20, 2007

Independent regulation for solicitors required as an urgency

Continuing to report on the letters debate in the Herald newspaper on the problems of the Scottish legal profession, today the main focus of replies relates to the requirement seen by many of having fully independent regulation for the legal profession.

Actually, there are many within the profession which see independent regulation as a positive step, but while a measure of independent regulation is planned by way of the new Scottish Legal Complaints Commission, regulatory services in aspects of conduct complaints, and discipline matters, will remain with the profession - thus creating a scenario for conflict later down the road.

Perhaps the Legal Profession and Legal Aid (Scotland) Act 2007 may have served the interests of both the public & legal profession by completely stripping away self regulation of solicitors which has been the main cause of charges of bias, prejudice, corruption etc from the public & critics of the Law Society ... but we are for now stuck with this half way house of dual regulation between an independent Commission and the profession, which will surely not sit well with those who have long sorry tales to tell of experiences with solicitors ...

Herald letters :

Urgent need to have independent regulator for solicitors

YOUR LETTERS August 20 2007

In his rant (Letters, August 17), Graham Bryson does perhaps get to the root of what is wrong with the legal system in Scotland: rather than simply seeing themselves as practitioners in the law of Scotland, some Scots lawyers seem to think they own it.

On what other basis could he, or they, fail to see the difference between solicitors' standards being "rigorously applied and monitored by a powerful external government agency", or self-regulation by the Law Society of Scotland, which exists to "represent the interests of solicitors"?

Furthermore, members of the public can generally only employ advocates through solicitors. I note Mr Bryson avoids referring to the word "monopoly".

Bryan H Stuart, Pitmachie, Insch, Aberdeenshire.

Graham Bryson's letter (August 17) is a breathtaking example of the power of delusional thinking. His contention that the Law Society "is rigorous in its inspection and regulation of solicitors", impliedly for the benefit of the laity, is risible.

The Law Society, like the Faculty of Advocates, was created exclusively to protect lawyers from the consequences of their frequently appalling conduct. An alarming number of Scotland's lawyers are astute purveyors of operatic numptitude, balletic incompetence, neo-classical ineptitude and postmodern cupidity. Many of them also possess an almost bestial appetite for bloated pomposity.

Surprisingly, many recipients of that kind of genius are far from grateful and consequently waste their time complaining to the Law Society or the Faculty of Advocates. Very quickly they learn that unless their legal "advisers" engaged in conduct just short of first degree murder, they will almost certainly be exonerated - such is the quality of the bias that inheres in the minds of the rigorous regulators. Hence the urgent need for a completely independent regulatory system, untainted by the influence of lawyers. Mr Bryson depicts the Scottish legal system as "a signficant bulwark against oppression of the individual". What led him to that conclusion? The Lockerbie trial?

Thomas Crooks, 81 Dundas St, Edinburgh.

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