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Posted on 11 Feb 2011 8:06 am
The Law Society's regulatory arm, the SRA formerly known as OSS, is responsible for handling complaints against solicitors. However, recently the complaints handling for Inadequate Professional Services (IPS) is now handled by another so call independent division LCS of the Law Society.
The complaint referred to in the HOC debate of 21st March 2005, and the annotation submitted by Ms Norma Ferrie, is the reality. IPS's are only investigated if the awards can be passed on to the solicitor.
The whole of the Law Society and the so called regulatory divisions although termed as independent are not totally impartial.
They SRA has a conflict of interest. Not that they want to protect the solicitor. They actually go out of their way to the government, the public and consumer watch dogs that they are so vigilant and their actions so draconian that they close down solicitors firms on mere suspicion of dishonesty and in the process spend almost £30 million per annum on the intervention process ( closing down firms).
Of course this financial cost is met by the profession by a levy imposed on practising solicitor.
But one thing that no one has appreciated or cottoned on to is that they have a real conflict of interest when it comes to investigating complaints of dishonest conduct that has caused financial loss to their client.
If they find a solicitor or several firms of solicitors have colluded to cause loss to a particular person, then the Compensation Fund maintained by the SRA has a statutory duty to indemnify the victim. Thus not only do they turn a blind eye to such dishonest activity but possibly encourage the new firm of solicitors employed by the aggrieved client to compromise their client's case, since either the Solicitors Indemnity Fund or the Compensation Fund may have to provide the indemnity.
To add insult to injury the SRA and the Police have Memorandum of Understanding to pass sensitive information to each other and to decide whether to prosecute the solicitor or not. It does not take parliamentarians’ acute wisdom to work out the sinister implication of this arrangement.
Unless one is a financial institution who has lodged a complaint of dishonest conduct of a solicitor either with the police or the SRA, such complaints are unlikely to be investigated, since any evidence of dishonest conduct by a solicitor creates a potential liability for the Compensation Fund.
There are 1000's of aggrieved clients all over the country, victims of financial loss caused by their solicitor’s misconduct which are neither investigated by the police or the SRA.
There is a rumour that in one instance where the SFO was investigating a solicitor who was subsequently intervened by the OSS (now SRA), the so called regulator declined to cooperate with the investigation by refusing to provide the intervened solicitor’s files and documents. The SFO had to raid the OSS’s offices to gain access to documents which were then in their possession.
All these and other corrupt practices adopted by the police, regulators including ACCA, SOCA, the Insolvency Service, licensed Trustees for the Bankrupts and others are akin to racketeering practised by the mob and the Mafia in USA in the middle of the last century.
These corrupt practices now are deep rooted and continue to thrive because the judiciary is not playing its part as an independent tribunal and in fact lends either a passive or covert assistance to the wrongdoers.
Perhaps it is time for this government and the Minister of Justice to wake up and have these victims complaints investigated by an independent body with a parliamentary sanction.
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