Friday 30 April 2010

GLC's Prevention of Homelessness Partnership makes final of Scotland's social care awards

GLC's Prevention of Homelessness Partnership (POHP) - a partnership between Glasgow City Council's South West Community Health Care Partnership, Govan Money Matters Advice Centre and GLC - has been shortlisted for the 2010 Scottish 'Care Accolades Awards'.

This is the 'Oscars' for social care services in Scotland, and we are delighted to have made it to the finals of these prestigious awards.

A short documentary film of the work of the POHP can be seen here (opens in Real Player). This is a powerful 15 minute documentary of the work of Govan Law Centre and it's local partners in Glasgow's Southside with respect to their innovative work to prevent homelessness on a long term, sustained and holistic basis.

Wednesday 28 April 2010

FSA takes UK banks to task over complaints handling

The Financial Services Authority (FSA) is taking tough action after finding weaknesses in five banks handling of customer complaints. It is understood the worst UK banks as regards complaint handling include Lloyds TSB (Bank of Scotland), Barclays, Royal Bank of Scotland, and Santander (the former Abbey National).

As a result of the review, five banks are undertaking major changes to the way they deal with complaints and two of the five banks have been referred to enforcement for further investigation. The review looked at several banking groups responsible for over 70% of the complaints firms receive and report to the FSA and over 60% of those resolved by the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS).

It found poor standards of complaint handling within most of the banks assessed, including:
* A lack of senior management engagement and accountability for the delivery of fair complaint handling;
* Poorly designed staff incentive schemes that made branch staff reluctant to pay redress to customers, even in situations where the bank was at fault;
* Poor quality complaint handling by staff in branches and general call-centres leading to inadequate investigations, poor decision making as to the outcome of the complaint and unsatisfactory correspondence with customers;
* Complaint handling procedures that led to staff issuing multiple, repetitive responses to customers, forcing them to restate their complaint a number of times in the face of ongoing negative responses from the bank;
* The failure of banks to learn from previous complaints and to make changes to prevent similar complaints arising in the future.

Further information is available on the FSA's site here.

Tuesday 27 April 2010

GLC to contribute to Lord Advocate's pro bono legal services in Scotland conference

The Lord Advocate, the Right Honourable Elish Angiolini QC, is hosting a special conference to explore how lawyers could best contribute to the provision of Pro Bono legal services; on Friday 14 May, Conference Room 1, Victoria Quay, Edinburgh, 9.30am; registration to probonoconference2010 (@)

The conference will showcase current provision of pro bono legal services in Scotland, encouraging participation and mapping out the future. GLC is a strong and active supporter of the progressive development of pro bono legal services in Scotland, and internationally, and we are delighted that our Principal Solicitor will address the conference.

Promoting competition whilst balancing the Scottish public interest and consumer protection

GLC's briefing paper on the Stage 1 debate of the Legal Services (Scotland) Bill (Wednesday 28 April 2010):

We believe the Legal Services (Scotland) Bill is unable to deliver its stated policy aim of promoting legal services competition and, as drafted, is presently not fit for purpose. For the reasons set forth in this briefing, the Bill is highly likely to lead to serious detriment to Scottish consumers, the Scottish public and their legal system, and the independence of Scotland’s legal profession.

We believe the ‘external ownership’ principle in the Bill is conceptually flawed and unworkable, but may be able to be cured by substantial amendment. We would propose amending the Bill to replace ‘external ownership’ with a new form of licensed business practice which balanced the need to promote competition and innovation, with consumer protection and the Scottish public interest.

Our proposed principle of ‘co-ownership’ would comprise of non-legally qualified persons owning up to 25% of a licensed business practice, but working alongside qualified solicitors, with direct operational input to the business. This model would build upon a safe and robust, tried and tested regulatory system, while facilitating innovative new business arrangements and partnerships.

The full paper is available in PDF format here.

Wednesday 21 April 2010

Breaking news: Alternative Business Structures rejected at Law Society's SGM ...

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.

Tuesday 20 April 2010

National regulator ‘with teeth’ needed to tackle Scotland’s dodgy landlords

Unscrupulous private landlords continue to operate with impunity and under the ‘radar’ of local authority registration schemes according to evidence from Govan and Govanhill Law Centres, submitted to the Scottish Government today, in response to its consultation paper on Scotland’s new Housing Bill.

Lindsay Paterson, solicitor at Govanhill Law Centre said:
“The very landlords who ought not to be landlords because they are not ‘fit and proper’ people continue to operate under the radar – they will never be refused registration or removed from the register as they will never apply to be registered. As things stand therefore, the private landlord registration scheme is not an effective way of ensuring those not fit to be landlords are stopped from renting out properties".

Govan Law Centre (GLC) has highlighted the major inconsistency of local authority resources deployed to private landlord registration schemes (PLRS) across Scotland.

GLC believes Scotland’s private rented sector needs a new national regulator with comparable resources as are available to the national regulator for social landlords in order to protect vulnerable tenants in the private rented sector. The current disjointed and under funded local schemes have failed to work.

GLC is calling for a new national regulatory agency with ‘teeth’, which should require all private landlords to undergo Disclosure Scotland checks in order to help establish whether they are ‘fit and proper’ persons to act as landlords. GLC is particularly concerned with the Scottish Government’s idea of giving private sector landlords the right to undertake ‘DIY evictions’ through a statutory abandonment process.

Mike Dailly, Principal Solicitor at GLC said:
“In our experience all too many private sector landlords routinely ignore the law, so to suggest they should be given the power to carry out a ‘DIY eviction’ in certain circumstances is extremely unwise. Govan Law Centre is concerned that such a power would be automatically abused with many vulnerable tenants and their families being summarily evicted at all hours of the day and night. The Scottish Government’s consultation paper has a lot of good ideas, but this is not one of them”

GLC’s full consultation response is available online here.

The Scottish Government's consultation paper is available online here.

Saturday 17 April 2010

Law Society election statement from GLC's Principal Solicitor

Elections to the Council of the Law Society of Scotland will take place on 12 May 2010 for solicitors within the Sheriffdom of Glasgow and Strathkelvin.

GLC's Mike Dailly is standing on a 'Justice for Scotland' platform, together with Frank Maguire of Thompsons, Walter Semple solicitor, and John McGovern, President of the Glasgow Bar Association (GBA). Below is Mike's personal statement (limited to 50 words) which will be circulated with the forthcoming ballot papers:

"We must reform our Law Society. Glasgow solicitors need proper representation. Better pay for criminal and civil legal aid so our citizens can access justice. Less bureaucracy and practitioner costs. No external ownership of Scottish law firms. I will work with GBA and Justice for Scotland colleagues to deliver change".

In order to improve access to justice we need to reform the Law Society of Scotland; to better serve the people of Scotland, and their solicitors. If you are a solicitor in Glasgow and are able to offer any help or support - or have any questions or issues you would like to raise - please feel free to get in touch with Mike at m(AT)