Summary of Decision on Facts, Determination and Disciplinary Action
SUSAN MARGARET BEN-OLIEL
Called to the Bar: September 2, 1994
Discipline hearing: September 1, 2016
Panel: Martin Finch, QC, Chair, Ralston Alexander, QC and Linda Michaluk
Decision issued: November 28, 2016 (2016 LSBC 42)
Counsel: Carolyn Gulabsingh for the Law Society; no one appearing on behalf of Susan Ben-Oliel
The Law Society received two separate complaints regarding Susan Ben-Oliel in February 2016. The Law Society sent multiple letters by mail and email to Ben-Oliel seeking a response but received no reply.
Ben-Oliel’ s lawyer contacted the Law Society on April 27, 2016, and the Law Society asked him to request certain information from his client. On May 30, 2016, he said he had not received instructions from Ben-Oliel.
The Law Society sent a letter by mail and email to Ben-Oliel stating that, if a response was not received, the matter would be referred to the Chair of the Discipline Committee to consider issuing a citation. Ben-Oliel and her lawyer sent no further response to the Law Society.
Ben-Oliel did not attend the hearing. The panel was troubled by Ben-Oliel’ s indifferent response to the discipline process. The Law Society must have cooperation from lawyers in the pursuit of its statutory mandate to govern the profession in the public interest.
The panel observed that Ben-Oliel appeared to have purposely disengaged from the profession while apparently continuing to practise. A message confirming the seriousness with which this misconduct is viewed must be communicated.
The panel found that the repeated failures of Ben-Oliel to respond to the Law Society’ s enquiries constitute a marked departure from the standard expected of lawyers and amounts to professional misconduct.
The Law Society sought a suspension, as Ben-Oliel had a previous conduct record of nearly identical circumstances. These matters were the second and third citations involving failure to respond that have proceeded to hearing in approximately four months.
The hearing panel agreed that this was an appropriate case for progressive discipline. The panel ordered that Ben-Oliel:
- be suspended for four months;
- pay costs of $1,296.91; and
- provide a complete and substantive response to the Law Society’ s enquiries.