Complaints, Lawyer Discipline and Public Hearings

 

Citation issued: March 9, 2018

Roy Swartzberg

Citations are authorized by the Law Society of BC's Discipline Committee and list allegations against a lawyer that will be considered at a discipline hearing. Please note that allegations in a citation are unproven until a discipline hearing panel has determined their validity.

Nature of conduct to be inquired into:

Client DD

1.  In the course of representing your client DD in a family law proceeding (the “Action”), you misled DD regarding the status of the Action, contrary to rules 2.2-1 and 3.2-2 of the Code of Professional Conduct for British Columbia by doing one or more of the following:

a)  in early 2014, you falsely represented that two cash payments of $800 and $2,000 made by you to your client was money owed by her spouse pursuant to a fine or penalty awarded in the Action;

b)  in approximately September 2014, you falsely represented that you had completed a summary trial on your client’s behalf before Madam Justice Fleming and that judgment was reserved;

c)  in approximately November 2014, you falsely represented that you had applied for and obtained a protection order with respect to your client’s child;

d)  in approximately November 2014, you fabricated and provided your client with a document purporting to be an entered protection order dated November 4, 2014 (the “Protection Order”), when you knew that the Protection Order had neither been applied for nor obtained;

e)  in approximately November 2014, you falsely represented that you were having difficulties serving the Protection Order on your client’s spouse;

f)  in approximately November 2014, you falsely represented that you had attended court to obtain an order for substituted service of the Protection Order on your client’s spouse;

g)  in approximately December 2014 or January 2015, you falsely represented that the summary trial decision (the “Summary Trial Decision”) had been released pursuant to which:

i.  your client’s spouse was now required to pay $500 in child support;

ii.  your client was required to pay her spouse $50,000 on account of the division of family assets;

iii.  the parties’ interest in a leisure park membership in Washington (the “Washington Membership”) would be transferred to their child,

when you knew no summary trial had been held and no decision had been rendered;

h)  in approximately January 2015, you falsely represented that you had taken steps to remove a certificate of pending litigation registered against your client’s property;

i)  in approximately January 2015, you falsely represented that you had filed a notice of appeal of the Summary Trial Decision;

j)  in approximately March 2015, you falsely represented that you had applied for a protection order for your client’s child;

k)  in approximately March 2015, you falsely represented that your client’s spouse was refusing to sign the transfer documents for the Washington Membership as required by the Summary Trial Decision;

l)  in approximately April 2015, you prepared court materials in support of a purported application to vary the Summary Trial Decision when you knew that no such decision had been rendered;

m)  in approximately June 2015, you falsely represented that you were attending court for the purpose of obtaining the trial judge’s signature on the transfer documents for the Washington Membership.

This conduct constitutes professional misconduct, pursuant to section 38(4) of the Legal Profession Act.

2.  Between approximately May 2009 and October 2015, in the course of representing your client DD in a family law proceeding (the “Action”), you failed to serve your client in a conscientious, diligent and efficient manner so as to provide a quality of service at least equal to that which would be expected of a competent lawyer in a similar situation, contrary to Chapter 3, Rules 3 and 5 of the Professional Conduct Handbook or rules 3.2-1 of the Code of Professional Conduct for British Columbia. In particular, you failed to take any substantive steps to advance the Action.

This conduct constitutes professional misconduct, pursuant to section 38(4) of the Legal Profession Act.

3.  On or about January 31, 2013, you acted while in a conflict of interest with your client DD contrary to rules 3.4-28 and 3.4-34 of the Code of Professional Conduct for British Columbia when you lent your client $10,000 but failed to do one or more of the following:

a)  disclose and explain the nature of the conflict interest to your client;

b)  require your client receive independent legal representation; and

c)  obtain your client’s consent.

This conduct constitutes professional misconduct, pursuant to section 38(4) of the Legal Profession Act.

4.  Between approximately December 12, 2017 and January 29, 2018, you misled DG, counsel for your former client DD contrary to rule 2.2-1 of the Code of Professional Conduct for British Columbia when you falsely represented that you had requested and were waiting for the Law Society to provide you with a copy of your file when you knew that you had not made such a request.

This conduct constitutes professional misconduct, pursuant to section 38(4) of the Legal Profession Act.

Client AB

5.  Between approximately March 2014 and June 2016, in the course of representing your client AB in a family law proceeding, you misled your client regarding the status of an application to vary a court order, contrary to rules 2.2-1 and 3.2-2 of the Code of Professional Conduct for British Columbia by doing one or more of the following:

a)  you falsely represented that you had filed an application in the Court of Queen’s Bench in Alberta to vary an existing court order made against your client on March 25, 2014 (the “Court Order”);

b)  you falsely represented that you had successfully obtained a variance of the Court Order on May 15, 2015 (the “Variance Order”) and had taken steps to serve the Variance Order on your client’s former spouse;

c)  you falsely represented that your client’s former spouse had been served with a copy of the Variance Order;

d)  you fabricated and provided your client with a document purporting to be the Variance Order when you knew that the Variance Order had neither been applied for nor obtained;

e)  you falsely represented that you had miscalculated the amounts owed in arrears under the Variance Order and would pay $18,000 on your client’s behalf.

This conduct constitutes professional misconduct, pursuant to section 38(4) of the Legal Profession Act.

6.  Between approximately March 2014 and June 2016, in the course of representing your client AB in a family law proceeding, you failed to serve your client in a conscientious, diligent and efficient manner so as to provide a quality of service at least equal to that which would be expected of a competent lawyer in a similar situation, contrary to Chapter 3, Rules 3 and 5 of the Professional Conduct Handbook or rules 3.2-1 of the Code of Professional Conduct for British Columbia. In particular, after being instructed by your client to vary an existing court order, you failed to take any substantive steps to vary the order.

This conduct constitutes professional misconduct, pursuant to section 38(4) of the Legal Profession Act.

Client CJ

7.  In the course of representing your client CJ in connection with a child custody claim, you misled your client regarding the status of her claim, contrary to rules 2.2-1 and 3.2-2 of the Code of Professional Conduct for British Columbia by doing one or more of the following:

a)  commencing in late 2014, you falsely represented that you had filed materials with the court to commence a parental alienation claim on your client’s behalf;

b)  commencing in late 2014, you falsely represented that you were obtaining or had obtained court dates for the hearing of your client’s parental alienation claim;

c)  in approximately November 2015, you falsely represented that you had attended a “contempt hearing” against your client’s former spouse for his failure to deliver your client’s son for a scheduled visit and that the court had reserved judgment;

d)  in approximately January 2015, you falsely represented that a hearing had been scheduled for the continuation of a “contempt hearing” against your client’s former spouse;

e)  in approximately June 2016 you falsely represented that you were at the court registry in Vancouver getting a court order signed by a judge granting your client access to her son in the summer of 2016.

This conduct constitutes professional misconduct, pursuant to section 38(4) of the Legal Profession Act.

8.  Commencing in late 2014, in the course of representing your client CJ in a family law proceeding in connection with a child custody claim, you failed to serve your client in a conscientious, diligent and efficient manner so as to provide a quality of service at least equal to that which would be expected of a competent lawyer in a similar situation, contrary rules 3.2-1 of the Code of Professional Conduct for British Columbia. In particular, after being retained by your client, you failed to take any substantive steps to advance her claim.

This conduct constitutes professional misconduct, pursuant to section 38(4) of the Legal Profession Act.

Client ES

9.  In the course of representing your client ES in connection with a claim against C Inc., you misled your client regarding the status of his claim, contrary to rules 2.2-1 and 3.2-2 of the Code of Professional Conduct for British Columbia when you represented that you had commenced an action in the British Columbia Supreme Court on his behalf when you knew that you had not.

This conduct constitutes professional misconduct, pursuant to section 38(4) of the Legal Profession Act.

10.  In approximately May 2016, you misled DM, counsel for your former client ES, contrary to rule 2.2-1 of the Code of Professional Conduct for British Columbia when you falsely represented that you would forward a copy of a Notice of Civil Claim purportedly commenced in the British Columbia Supreme Court on behalf of your former client against C Inc., when you knew that no such claim had been commenced.

This conduct constitutes professional misconduct, pursuant to section 38(4) of the Legal Profession Act.

11.  Between approximately 2014 and June 2016, in the course of representing your client ES in connection with a claim against C Inc., you failed to serve your client in a conscientious, diligent and efficient manner so as to provide a quality of service at least equal to that which would be expected of a competent lawyer in a similar situation, contrary to rule 3.2-1 of the Code of Professional Conduct for British Columbia. In particular, after being retained by your client, you failed to take any substantive steps to advance his claim.

This conduct constitutes professional misconduct, pursuant to section 38(4) of the Legal Profession Act.

Client CL

12.  In approximately February 2014, you acted while in a conflict of interest with your client CL when you accepted a gift of rings from your client without ensuring that she had had independent legal advice about the gift, contrary to rules 3.4-1 and 3.4-39 of the Code of Professional Conduct for British Columbia.

This conduct constitutes professional misconduct, pursuant to section 38(4) of the Legal Profession Act.