Vote 'No; No' in the Referendum on Alternative Business Structures

All of us hold dear the principles essential to the administration of justice in Scotland: independence, confidentiality, avoiding conflicts of interest. All of us regard justice not as a product at the sole mercy of profit but as a crucial service that must be available for all our communities in Scotland. All of us now have a chance to re-affirm these ideals. Vote NO; NO to the Law Society Referendum.

To not do so would be to open up control of our legal services to purely commercial organisations. No amount of regulations or regulators stopped the banks undermining our whole banking system. ABS will allow them to now ruin our legal services.

Non-profitable areas will be abandoned - supermarkets and other so called entities are geared solely by profit. No amount of regulation will stop legal services being used as a portal for money laundering and other similar activities - our legal services will be open to criminal control.

There should be no role for the Law Society of Scotland in regulating such people. No Guarantee Fund or Master Policy could cope with this. A NO; NO vote will stop all of this in its tracks.

We need to refocus our legal services on Scotland’s communities and citizens. They deserve better. We need to send a message to the Scottish Government to think again. We must reform our Law Society as it has shown itself incapable of representing all of those trying to render a legal service in Scotland now and in the future.

We must seek to re-affirm, through any such reform, the principles crucial to the administration of justice. We must also ensure that the legal service is preserved and improved across the whole range of needs of the Scottish people and their communities. Join us to begin to make this happen and ensure you vote NO; NO by noon, 7 April 2010.

FRANK MAGUIRE, Senior Partner and Solicitor Advocate, Thompsons Solicitors
JOHN McGOVERN, Solicitor Advocate, President of the Glasgow Bar Association
WALTER SEMPLE, Solicitor, Member of the Council of the Law Society of Scotland
MIKE DAILLY, Principal Solicitor, Govan Law Centre
PATRICK McGUIRE, Solicitor Advocate and Partner, Thompsons Solicitors

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

The Scottish Law Agents Society's motion opposing the external ownership of Scottish law firms ('Tesco Law' or ABS) has been approved at a Special General Meeting of the Law Society of Scotland (LSS) in Edinburgh this morning, reversing the pro-ABS policy of the LSS. A proposed 'ABS lite' amended motion by McGrigors was rejected by Scottish solicitors. 1,817 votes were cast against ABS, with 1,290 in favour.

Friday, 16 April 2010

The integrity and good reputation of the solicitor branch of Scotland's legal profession was safeguarded this morning when the reconvened Special General Meeting of the Law Society of Scotland (LSS) took place in Edinburgh.

Today's meeting had been formally called by the LSS, but representatives of the Council of the LSS had subsequently purported to postpone today's meeting to next week, notwithstanding this was clearly unconstitutional and contrary to established case law. The danger was if today's meeting had not proceded the reconvened SGM would have been unlawful, and the Law Society of Scotland would have been open to challenge before the courts, and criticism for disrespecting the due process of Scots law.

Thirty three solicitors from Aberdeen, Dundee, Dumfries, Glasgow and Edinburgh attended the reconvened SGM this morning at Edinburgh's Sheraton Hotel. The purpose in attending was to protect the integrity of the Society and profession they held dear, and to properly preserve the SGM motion, and respect the rule of the law in Scotland.

The Registrar, staff and President of the LSS had been fully informed that the meeting was proceeding as called, but declined to attend. In their absence and in accordance with the LSS Constitution, the meeting agreed to appoint a member of the Council of the LSS to chair the reconvened SGM. Walter Semple took the chair, and the meeting agreed to appoint Ross Anderson, solicitor as legal advisor to the chairman.

In the absence of LSS staff, the meeting agreed unanimouslly to suspend Standing Orders so that it could formally appoint a minute taker. Catriona Walker, solicitor, was so appointed. A discussion took place on why the the notice calling next week's 'SGM' was void and unlawful with reference to the case law. The meeting endorsed this legal opinion.

The chairman, Walter Semple, and others who spoke, agreed that it would not have been appropriate to take a vote on the substantive motion today in the spirit of openess, transparency and fairness of debate, and that the honourable thing to do was to agree to adjourn today's SGM to the purported SGM meeting of next week, and in so doing curing the unlawful notice issued at the behest of Ian Smart, and other representatives of the Council of LSS.

The meeting unanimously agreed to do so, and in so doing restored dignity, honour, and credibility to the SGM debate on Alternative Business Structures in Scotland.

The adjourned Special General Meeting of the Law Society of Scotland (LSS), which had been formally called by the LSS to meet this morning at the Sheraton Hotel, 1 Festival Square, Edinburgh at 10am, is due to take place.

Notwithstanding, the LSS had subsequently purported to postpone this meeting, it is now clear any decision to postpone was ultra vires of the constitution of LSS, and contrary to established applicable law.

The Scottish Law Agents Society have kindly re-booked a room at the Sheraton and all members of the LSS are encouraged to attend in order to vote on the motion with respect to Alternative Business Structures.

Thursday, 15 April 2010

From: Ian S. Smart

To: Council Members
Sent: Wednesday, 14 April, 2010 20:28:20
Subject: Events

Dear Colleague,

I'm writing to try and bring you up to date with the events of the last few days.

On Monday afternoon, the Society was contacted by four separate members to complain that wrong information had been given in the notice calling the reconvened SGM in relation to the inability to submit fresh proxies. They included one very prominent member of the Scottish Law Agents Society. We then reviewed the terms of the Constitution and concluded that the criticism made was a valid one. The constitution provides for proxies to be lodged no less than 48 hours before any meeting or adjourned meeting.despite it being on the basis that no new proxies could be submitted for an adjourned meeting that both we and SLAS had proceeded on (and since) 25th March. One of our correspondents in particular suggested that to proceed to a vote on Friday without allowing proxies would leave the result of any putative meeting open to challenge (by implication) in the Courts.

I am mortified that this error was made in the first place. I'd be happy to try and explain what happened (insofar as I understand it) at the Council Meeting. Nonetheless by mid-afternoon on Monday, it was clear an error had been made and needed rectified in some way.The problem was that this could not be done by the date of the originally scheduled meeting as a corrective notice issued even early on Tuesday would have given a maximum period of 24 hours for additional proxies to be collected and, in accordance with our archaic constitution, physically lodged at Drumsheugh Gardens. That, in turn, would inevitably have left us open to challenge that insufficient notice of correction had been given.

Accordingly, with great reluctance, Lorna, Jamie and I decided on Monday evening that we had no alternative but to postpone the reconvened meeting. We were aware of three things:-

1) That inevitably this would look incompetent and attract bad publicity.

2) That conspiracy theorists would suggest we were trying to renege on our undertaking that the original purpose of the adjournment was specifically not to gather extra proxies for the pro-ABS camp.

3) That the self-same sources might suggest an intention on our part to postpone the vote until after the Scottish Parliament Stage 1 debate.

There was little that could be done about the first of these but to head off the second Jamie, Cammie and I gave an undertaking to the profession that we would not accept, personally, any additional proxies. In relation to the third, I personally contacted the Minister to request he use his influence to ensure the debate not take place next week. Whether as a result of my efforts or otherwise, we are assured that the debate will not now take place until 28th April at the earliest.

We also felt the reconvened meeting should take place at the earliest possible date. In pursuit of that it was arranged for 21st April.

Unfortunately today certain elements associated with the law agents have sought to suggest that it was not competent for us to reschedule the meeting. I will return to this later.

The second major development on Monday was the meeting of the Council of SLAS. It is now, I think, an open secret that the deal/compromise or whatever one wishes to call it proposed between SLAS and the pro-ABS forces was essentially as outlined in the McGrigors amendment circulated with the papers for the reconvened SGM.

I regret to say that despite earlier indications to the potential contrary, the SLAS Council decided on Monday that they could not agree to this and wished to press their outright opposition to ABS to a vote. I think I am entitled to say that there were quite strong disagreements internally within SLAS as to the wisdom of this course and I regret that in the aftermath of that meeting Michael Scanlan has resigned as President of SLAS. I am at a loss to know precisely how now to interpret the position of SLAS as it has been suggested to me that they are still prepared to compromise but only after they have passed their motion! Quite how and when any compromise is then to be reached and endorsed in any sort of timescale that might influence the Government is a complete mystery. It is undoubtedly the case however that SLAS hold sufficient proxies to do this if they want.

Whether as a result of the SLAS Council being now dominated by more intemperate heads or whatever, in the course of today, SLAS have suggested that it was incompetent to postpone the reconvened SGM and that we were somehow instead obliged to proceed with a meeting that had been, by common consent, called incompetently. Michael Sheridan, their secretary has written today threatening to go ahead with a "Special General Meeting" of the Law Society at the Sheraton on Friday, even if none of the Officers or staff of the Society are in attendance. Whether they intended or intend to proceed to a vote at this event is unclear. We were in no doubt that rescheduling the meeting was competent but we were conscious that in light of the difficulties already arisen from our own error, we were in an awkward position to simply assert that. We have accordingly taken Counsel's opinion in the course of the day and that has, indeed, confirmed our view. We have written back indicating that whatever might or might not take place at the Sheraton on Friday it will not be regarded by us as a General Meeting of the Law Society. I'm hoping however that people might calm down over this overnight, not least because the same opinion confirms that the meeting on the 21st is validly constituted and at least part of the concern here is maintained to be a fear by the Law Agents that this might not be the case and accordingly any vote taken then would be invalid.

You'll gather that this matter is rather taking over my life at the moment. I am sorry if I've not been able to keep everybody as fully advised as would have been ideal but I had high hopes that I might have been writing to you on Tuesday announcing we had a done deal. The most depressing thing of all is that we are conducting this debate as if we were the only players. Nobody in Government has ever repudiated the "no change is not an option" statement. In all of this that is simply being ignored. The real danger is that if we continue to speak with a divided voice then the Government will, at some point, simply ignore us altogether and get on with doing what they want. I'm not sure how that serves anybody's agenda.


Friday, 9 April 2010

As I paid my eagerly anticipated weekly visit to HM Prison Barlinnie the other day, and waited for those accused I was due to consult with being brought from their cells to the agents’ interview area, I couldn’t stop fretting about the ridiculous position in which this Law Society of ours has placed our great profession.

The first accused I was due to consult with was remanded in custody pending sentence on charges of breach of the peace and police assault, both committed whilst on bail. Never having been fined more than £1000 before, and never having previously served two years imprisonment, it occurred to me that this accused, my client, could in a year or so, be my business rival: a legal service provider. Incredible, but the Legal Services Bill, which the LSS has negotiated for our profession, contains nothing which will prevent such a situation arising. Nothing.

So, I thought, let me see. The next file for the next accused: domestic assault. Serving six months imprisonment, following upon last year’s convictions on indictment for domestic assault which resulted in an eighteen month sentence, following upon convictions in 2008 which resulted in the Sheriff imposing a probation order. This violent thug, too, could be my business rival this time next year: never done two years and never been fined more than £1000. Got the picture? Or will I go on? Well, I will a bit. Because when crime gets serious, you see, the heavies don’t do any time. Nor do they get fined. In fact, who are the heavies? I don’t think the Law Society knows. But that doesn’t matter. As long as the Law Society can regulate the new ABS businesses, and thereby stay in business itself, it’s fine.

In December last year, I wrote an article which, inter alia, highlighted that s.92 of the Legal Services Bill removed this profession’s independence and ceded it to the Government. The Government, under s92, had the power to set the criteria for the appointment of non-solicitor members to our representative Law Society Council. Significantly, s.92 also allowed the Government to set the proportion (without any limit) of non-solicitor members to Council. For months, on websites, in press releases and debates, the Law Society argued there was no problem with s.92. Indeed, at a meeting I attended with LSS office bearers, the LSS attempted to diffuse my concerns about s.92 by stating that they had a letter from the Cabinet Secretary stating that the proportion of non-solicitor members on the Council of the Law Society would always be set after consultation with the LSS.

A letter? From the Cabinet Secretary? Fine. No statutory safeguards? But a letter? Fine.

Well, not really. Because, the Cabinet Secretary might not be there forever. And what happens if another Government comes into power……

I think the LSS knew what I meant. Because in March, Fergus Ewing announced that s.92, or at least its Government control provisions, had gone. No more. Finito. The Law Society must have been embarrassed, you might think, having tried to reassure the profession that it was in control and nothing was wrong with s.92. Well, not exactly. The LSS was “delighted” at s.92 being removed. Go figure! Cos’ I can’t.

But I’ll try. You see, if the Government says “run”, the Law Society sprints; if the Government says “jump”, the Law Society leaps; if the Government says “the status quo is not an option, how is the Law Society going to survive post Tesco law?”, the Law Society says “if you look after us, we’ll deliver the profession’s independence to you”.

So there we are. Government control of our Council (formally removed, but ah hae ma doots) and external ownership of law firms. Smashin. Well done Law Society. As long as you’re ok.

And what has this hard working, decent, honest profession done to deserve losing its independence? Eh, nothing. Nothing at all. Well apart from allowing those with Government civil service agendas to penetrate and dominate our Council. And it’s still going on. Just ask SLAS. Or better still, see for yourself:

We’re paying for that. But for how much longer?

I read today among the Law Society’s “papers” dispatched to every member (10,500) that the “Glasgow Bar Association had requested a referendum on the nature and extent of the society’s role…”

Mmm…not quite. The referendum was requisitioned by over thirty law firms including Law Firm of the year Thompsons, one of Scotland’s commercial giants MacRoberts, one of this profession’s most respected institutions, Govan Law Centre and members of (largely) Edinburgh’s WS Society. Oh, and the GBA too. But it suits the LSS not to tell that to its 10,500 members. It’ll portray the “dual functions” referendum as a GBA thing. It’s not. Indeed, no one would have requisitioned the “dual functions” referendum at all had the LSS agreed to include the dual functions question in the ABS referendum that the Council itself decided to requisition. But it wouldn’t.

When the President made it clear, at the ONLY open debate on ABS that took place in Glasgow at the RFPG (the LSS arranged.. er.. NO open debates anywhere on ABS- just “roadshows” with their own speakers – all ABS supporters), that a third question on the “dual functions” would not be included on the ballot paper for the ABS referendum, then all the requisition signatures were obtained the following morning and delivered to Drumsheugh Gardens. An hour or two. Thirty firms. Glasgow through to Edinburgh.

Speaking of which, there was the motion to adjourn at the SGM a couple of weeks ago. The decent, honest, hard working solicitors who had been told by the Law Society two months previously, when they expressed their concerns about external ownership, to “bring it on” did just that.(In case you missed that, they were told by the Law Society to “bring it on”). Staring defeat in the face, The Law Society’s Standing Order book was literally produced from the back of the hall and a hand count later, proxies denied, and we’re all back on the train again. No vote.

Privately, past Presidents are aghast at what is going on. Privately, politicians are disbelieving. Publicly, other professions are looking and not laughing.

There is another way you know. Cheaper and more effective. Be it SLAS, the GBA, the WS Society, the RFPG….. All independent. All cheaper. All stronger. All together.

We deserve nothing less than mature, independent representation for all our sakes. Watching this Town Hall political soap opera that is the Law Society self destruct in front of us is not much fun. If you value an independent profession, you must vote “NO” in the dual functions referendum running 26th April through to 10th May.

Thursday, 8 April 2010

The result of the Alternative Business Structures (ABS) referendum has reaffirmed that the Council of the Law Society of Scotland (LSS) has lost the support of its membership to unconditionally promote and support ABS.

49.73% of members who voted were against any form of ABS - a remarkable level of opposition given the pro-external ownership campaign mounted by the LSS. To suggest there are 'areas of consensus on some models of ABS' negates the fact that almost 50% of LSS members voting were opposed to any model of ABS as a matter of principle.

Likewise, to suggest 'ABS wins by a whisker' was inhabile with the fact 50.27% of members voting were only in favour of ABS "as long as there are appropriate safeguards to protect the core values of the legal profession ..." . That conditional support currently carries little weight when the Scottish Parliament's Justice Committee has itself expressed doubt over the appropriateness of safeguards in the Bill as drafted.

Govan Law Centre's Principal Solicitor, Mike Dailly, has today written to LSS President, Mr. Ian Smart, to ensure that Scottish solicitors will be consulted on whether the Bill as drafted, or as to be amended by the Scottish Government, will contain 'appropriate safeguards' as regards ABS:

"In light of the ABS referendum vote, it is clear members of the Law Society of Scotland must be consulted in due course with a final referendum on the question, 'Do you agree that the proposals for ABS amount to appropriate safeguards to protect the core values of the legal profession in Scotland?. Yes or No'. I hope our President will accept the need for this subsequent referendum, given the clear message sent to Council by the result of yesterday's referendum".

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

The Herald’s report (6 and 7 April) that almost one third of specialist family lawyers in Scotland no longer undertake civil legal aid cases is disturbing. In many developing countries, legal aid is so poorly financed that even capital cases are defended by the most inexperienced and often incompetent of practitioners, with life and death consequences.

As Scotland’s proud legal system looks down a regressive road, we have a simple choice. Do we believe in the equality of arms between opponents as a matter of justice? Or should the quality of representation be based upon your personal wealth and who you happen to be?

If the former, then we must review our legal aid system and Robert Brown MSP’s call for an inquiry is to be welcomed. If the latter, we should embrace ‘Tesco Law’, and its drivers of choice based upon individual wealth and status. But what kind of Scotland would we create?

Ian Smart’s suggestion of Tesco Law firms providing compulsory pro bono services ‘to ensure access to justice’ is the modern day equivalent of ‘Qu'ils mangent de la brioche’ (Let them eat cake). Why should vulnerable Scots facing the loss of their children, liberty, health, home, or livelihood be required to accept some compulsory Tesco Law service of unknown quality?

Should only the wealthy have free choice in our society?

We believe a progressive solution is achievable without significant cost to the Scottish taxpayer. A restructuring and removal of expensive administrative procedures could generate sufficient savings to tackle this unmet need from Scotland’s current legal aid expenditure.

John McGovern, Solicitor Advocate, President of the Glasgow Bar Association; and Mike Dailly, Principal Solicitor, Govan Law Centre

Aberdeen solicitor, Catriona Walker's response to Fergus Ewing MSP (published in The Herald today):

"What does Community Safety Minister Fergus Ewing mean by an “independent Scottish legal system”(Letters, April 3). Independent of whom? The Legal Services Bill before the Scottish Parliament gives up the independence guaranteed by the Treaty of Union (referred to in the Scotland Act) which sought to protect the independence of the Scottish legal system (in relation to private law,) by vetoing any change to the system “except for the evident utility of the subjects of Scotland”.

The Legal Services Bill includes the specific provision that English solicitors are presumed fit to own legal service providers in Scotland. Mr Ewing’s fitness-to-own test is a mere illusion and there is word that the Solicitors’ Regulatory Authority of England and Wales has indicated an interest in applying to be a regulator in Scotland.

There is a difference between protectionism and protection. Scots private law needs to be protected from being totally overtaken by its larger neighbour. The public interest and the consumer interest in Scotland need to be protected.

In order to provide this protection, it seems clear that restricted ownership (by Scottish-qualified lawyers), professional standards (of training, qualification and practice) and appropriate safeguards (of indemnity insurance and guarantee) should apply to legal advice. An illusory, statutory test of fitness is insufficient.

It is not clear that Westminster bodies and English legal service providers have any understanding of the Scottish legal system, yet they have had a profound influence on the generation of the Legal Services Bill, in the name of consumerism, but in the absence of evidence. How can that be for the “evident utility” of the Scottish subjects?

The minister serves in an SNP administration. His actions put at risk the independence of Scots law. How are we to understand his political objectives?"

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

The Lawyer newspaper reports that Scotland's 'big four law firms' will defect to England if they don't get their way over 'Tesco Law': the story is reproduced below.

"The Scottish legal market is facing crisis, with an industry-wide argument over the introduction of alternative business ­structures (ABSs) having the potential to drive the big four firms south of the ­border for good.

Dundas & Wilson, Mclay Murray & Spens, McGrigors and Shepherd & Wedderburn (S&W) are considering having their lawyers register with the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) rather than the Scottish Law Society in reaction to the Scottish Law Agents Society’s (SLAS) attempt to ban the introduction of ABSs.

While the firms would not physically leave their ­Scottish headquarters, they would shift to a model whereby the bulk of their lawyers would be regulated by the SRA, with those in Scotland practising as registered foreign lawyers. This would mean the Law ­Society of Scotland (LSS) would have a vastly reduced revenue, with practising certificate fees going to the English Law Society, while the master insurance policy used by the entire profession in Scotland may be rendered unviable.

Dundas managing partner Alan Campbell said: “If we feel that we’re trading at a disadvantage to our competitors and they’re pan-UK, then we’d need to look at every option to make sure we’re on a level playing field. If that involves being regulated by the SRA, that’s something we’d do.

His counterparts at the other big four firms agree. McGrigors managing ­partner Richard Masters said: “It’s unpalatable and not a position we’d want to find ourselves in, but if [ABSs] take off and we’re in a non-competitive position we’d have to consider it.

The LSS has been successful in lobbying the Scottish government to alter some parts of the draft Legal ­Services Bill, but there are concerns that it would lose its negotiating position if it was forced to oppose ABSs, which is what the SLAS wants. As it is a government bill that has been some years in the making, it is likely that the Scottish government would press ahead with enacting it without the support of the sector.

The big commercial firms are a big part of the Scottish economy and the government doesn’t want to hamper them,” said LSS president Ian Smart.

S&W chief executive Patrick Andrews added: “The profession is in a perilous position because it’s difficult to see how it can maintain credibility in its dialogue with the politicians. The risk is that [the politicians] will steam on and do what they want and the profession is left watching.”

Controversial new legislation to introduce so-called Tesco law to Scotland presents a real threat to consumer protection, according to one of the country’s most high-profile lawyers.

Mike Dailly, principal solicitor of the Govan Law Centre, said the Bill going through Parliament, which allows non-lawyers to open legal services, opens the system up to risks and illegitimate interests.

The Herald last week reported that Frank Maguire, senior partner at Thompsons, one of Glasgow’s largest firms, fears the new legislation would increase the risk of money-laundering and allow drug barons to expand their empires.

Mr Maguire is one of a number of solicitors concerned that the changes will undermine his profession’s integrity and independence by allowing firms to raise capital from outside investors. It would also mean banks and even supermarkets could offer a full range of legal services. The proposals have divided Scotland’s 10,500 solicitors.

Monday, 5 April 2010

The Minister for Community Safety, Fergus Ewing MSP, has claimed that the Legal Services (Scotland) Bill ('the bill') would not jeopardise a strong, independent, Scottish legal system (Letters, The Herald, 3 April 2010). However, that claim must be wrong as a matter of logic.

The bill would open up ownership of Scottish legal services to a worldwide market of investors and corporations, with consumer protection consisting of a risk-based licensing approach. Accordingly, notwithstanding how good the bill's proposed regulatory scheme claims to be, the fact it extends ownership and control of Scotland's legal services to a global market (of both legitimate and illegitimate interests) must mean the bill presents a real threat to Scottish consumer protection.

That risk is compounded by two incontrovertible facts. Firstly, any risk based regulatory system - no matter how good - accepts an element of harm and failure, and invariably detects serious consumer detriment after damage has been done. Just think of the current payment protection insurance scandal, or the various misselling of products scandals. Do we really want this approach for legal redress and justice within Scotland?

Second, businesses and investors are seriously high risk compared to legal firms. It's a cultural thing. Risk taking is associated with higher financial returns, and even if you go bust, insolvency law encourages you to rise from the ashes as a pheonix: whereas if solicitors take risks, they end up struck off, with no re-birth. And rightly so. So conceptionally, this approach to legal services is wrong in principle - and we're not even talking about how weak and unworkable the bill's regulatory scheme is.

Tellingly, neither European countries, nor the USA, are embracing the Scottish Government's deregulation of legal services model. Around the world, governments are tightening up their regulatory systems, so why are we acting so regressively in Scotland? Critics say solicitors have a 'monopoly' in Scotland, but it's a monopoly in the same way DVLA controls who can drive a car. And it's not true, as anyone can set up a body to provide representation in the courts under the Law Reform (Miscellenous Provisions) (Scotland) Act 1990.

The truth is the Scottish Government's bill is based upon a deregulation or 'free for all' model from 2004. This was three years before the financial services meltdown from deregulation; an approach which has since been discredited and abandoned around the world. Yet Fergus Ewing and his colleagues clutch onto this flawed model because England did so in 2007?


Friday, 2 April 2010

Glasgow Bar Association response to the Law Society of Scotland's 'Proposals for Change' consultation document: Section 1 of the Solicitors (Scotland) Act 1980 states the "objects" of the Law Society of Scotland (the "LSS"). It is the view of the Glasgow Bar Association (the "GBA") that there is an irreconcilable conflict contained within s.1 of the Solicitors (Scotland) Act 1980 (the "Act"). That section legislates that it shall be "the object" of the Law Society of Scotland, inter alia, to "promote" the "interests of the solicitors' profession in Scotland" as well as "promoting the interests of the public in relation to that profession". It is impossible for the promotion of both interests to be mutually consistent, beneficial or indeed legitimate.

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Just say NO!

The Royal Bank of Scotland were fined £28.6 million by the OFT yesterday for disclosing confidential customer information and breaching competition law. Last year Aon Limited were fined £5.25 million by the FSA for failing to take reasonable care to establish and maintain effective systems and controls to counter the risks of bribery and corruption.

This year in the UK, the FSA handed out record fines of £33.1 million, 21% up on last year. Regulatory breaches happen every day in the financial services world. Along with organised criminals and gangsters, finanicial investors would be the folk who would ultimately be able to control and own law firms in Scotland under Alternative Business Structures (ABS) or ‘Tesco Law’. Read Mike's full blog on The Firm here.


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