Summary of Bencher Review Panel Decision
PETER KROGH JENSEN
Called to the Bar: July 10, 1981
Bencher review: March 31, 2016
Benchers: Gregory Petrisor, Chair, Lynal Doerksen, Woody Hayes, Jamie Maclaren, Lee Ongman, Elizabeth Rowbotham and Sarah Westwood
Decision issued: November 4, 20916 (2016 LSBC 37)
Counsel: Craig Dennis, QC for the Law Society; H.C. Ritchie Clark, QC for Peter Krogh Jensen
In its decision of March 14, 2014, a hearing panel concluded that Peter Krogh Jensen had committed professional misconduct by failing to state that he did not represent the interests of two individuals when one of those individuals tendered to Jensen’s firm a $200,000 US bank draft to purchase shares of a company from another individual or a related company, when that other individual was Jensen’s client. On April 24, 2015, the panel reprimanded Jensen and ordered him to pay a fine of $2,000 and costs of $30,000 (facts and determination: 2014 LSBC 14; disciplinary action: 2015 LSBC 10; discipline digest: Summer 2015).
Jensen sought a review of the hearing panel’s decisions.
DECISION OF THE BENCHER REVIEW PANEL
The review panel considered whether the hearing panel erred by interpreting the Rules (as they were at the relevant time) to impose a duty on Jensen to advise an unrepresented party to obtain independent legal advice; and whether the panel erred in finding that credibility was not an issue.
Jensen submitted that credibility was an issue and that the testimony considered by the panel supports a scenario in which two sophisticated business people saw an opportunity for a quick profit by investing in a share deal. They were fully aware that Jensen was the lawyer for the person who had introduced the complainants to the deal and was not protecting their interest.
The Law Society submitted that the panel found one of the complainants to be an unsophisticated and inexperienced business person who, with her somewhat inexperienced husband, attended at a seasoned lawyer’s office to purchase shares in a company owned by one of the lawyer’s clients. To complete this transaction, the wife tried to provide the lawyer with $200,000 to hold and protect in his trust account until such time as she received the shares they were anxious to purchase.
The Bencher review panel found that, although it would have been better if Jensen had advised the complainants to obtain independent legal advice, the evidence is insufficient to make a finding of professional misconduct.
The review panel ordered that the decisions of the hearing panel be overturned and the citation issued August 25, 2011 be dismissed.