February 24, 2023

Abbotsford lawyer Randle W. Howarth has been suspended for 10 weeks after reaching a consent agreement with the Law Society to resolve complaints of professional misconduct occurring between 2014 and 2017.

Howarth admits he committed professional misconduct by improperly using his firm’s trust account to receive and disburse funds totalling nearly $780,000 in circumstances where he did not provide substantial legal services in connection to those funds.

In relation to a sawmill venture, Howarth deposited into trust and then disbursed nearly $100,000, which was received in cash, including more than $45,000 in $20 bills, in circumstances that were objectively suspicious. Howarth also admits to depositing nearly $12,000 of his personal funds into the trust account against Law Society rules and acting in a conflict of interest in relation to his investment in the company. Howarth also made misleading or inaccurate responses to the Law Society in trust reports filed.

Howarth’s disciplinary history includes one past conduct review in 2021 during which he admitted to accepting $20,000 cash on two separate files. After acknowledging his misconduct, no further disciplinary action was taken related to that matter.

Howarth’s admitted misconduct is serious and engages several professional conduct issues. However, the circumstances of this case are distinguishable from prior cases where more aggravated sanctions have been imposed. Notably, there is no evidence that Howarth committed or facilitated any crime or fraud by use of his trust account in this matter. Furthermore, the conduct in this case was characterized as founded in inattention as opposed to intention.

Howarth’s suspension will commence on March 15, 2023.

The full summary of the agreement can be read here.


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