The travails of the unfortunate Raj Jandoo (see No 448) continued on 9 May 2005, when the Dean of the Faculty of Advocates suspended him from membership of the Faculty pending the outcome of disciplinary proceedings which have also been instituted against him in respect of his conviction in Stornoway sheriff court on 18 March.  

Meantime, the traditional self-disciplinary role of the Law Society of Scotland in relation to the solicitors’ branch of the profession appeared increasingly under threat.  The Clementi Report (published December 2004) recommended for England and Wales that there should be an independent complaints body (Office for Legal Complaints).  On 11 May 2005 the Justice Minister Cathy Jamieson launched a consultation for Scotland on the issue.  This set out four options for reforming the present structure:

(1) increasing the investigatory and enforcement powers of the Scottish Legal Services Ombudsman (SLSO);

(2) making the office of the SLSO a ‘single gateway’ to receive and sift all complaints where local resolution has not been possible, with wider powers to monitor the complaints handling processes of the professional bodies;

(2) turning the office of the SLSO into a single gateway which would itself investigate most complaints;

(3) creating a new independent complaints handling body, with a board led by a lay chair and with a lay majority.

These options build on recommendations made by the Justice 1 Committee in the first session of the Scottish Parliament, which favoured retaining the current system of self-regulation of complaints handling by the professional bodies, but recommended a number of measures to make the system more accountable and subject to a greater degree of independent oversight.

Clementi also recommended that a regulator (the Legal Services Board) should be set up to oversee both the Law Society and the Bar Council; and that non-law firms should be able to own legal practices, raising the spectre (for some) of supermarket or Tesco legal services.  For reactions to Clementi, see http://www.advocates.org.uk/news/news004.html, and various documents at http://www.lawscot.org.uk/.