Complaints, Lawyer Discipline and Public Hearings

 

Citation issued: October 25, 2018; amended June 6, 2019; further amended July 19, 2019

Sumandip Singh

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:

Conduct in relation to the unauthorized practice of law by Gerhard Albertus Pyper

1.  Between approximately June 2015 and July 2017, you knowingly facilitated or failed to assist in the prevention of the unauthorized practice of law by Gerhardus Albertus Pyper, a former member of the Law Society, contrary to one or more of Rule 2-14 of the Law Society Rules, rule 6.1-3, rule 6.1-3.2, rule 6.10-4 and rule 7.6-1 of the Code of Professional Conduct for British Columbia, by doing one or more of the following:

(a)  Failing to advise your clients YR, CA, C Group, MS , SS, and/or RD, that Mr. Pyper was not authorized to practice law when you knew or ought to have known that Mr. Pyper was engaged in the unauthorized practice of law;

(b)  Facilitating Mr. Pyper’s conduct in maintaining an ongoing relationship with YR, CA, the S Group, MS, SS, C Group, and/or RD, in which there was a prospect that he might engage in the practice of law, including by permitting him to meet with clients at the offices of the Singh Law Group (the “SLG”);

(c)  Permitting, or failing to prevent, the staff, employees or contractors of SLG to:

i.  Communicate with Mr. Pyper about client matters, including scheduling meetings with clients and obtaining instructions from Mr. Pyper; and/or

ii.  Act as a liaison between Mr. Pyper and clients, such as forwarding letters, email and other communications to clients;

(d)  Permitting Mr. Pyper to be held out as a lawyer, in ways including:

i.  Providing RD Mr. Pyper’s cell phone number and directing RD to call Mr. Pyper with legal questions;

ii.  Allowing Mr. Pyper to obtain client signatures on documents;

iii.  Failing to file YR’s Notice of Civil Claim, bring forward the service of the claim or response or serve the claim, thereby reinforcing YR’s belief that Mr. Pyper was her lawyer;

iv.  Not personally meeting with YR on her file matters from about June 2015 to November 2016;

v.  Commissioning YR’s affidavit and conveyance documents outside of her presence;

vi.  Failing to advise staff, employees, or contractors of the SLG that Mr. Pyper was not authorized to practice law when you knew or ought to have known about his unauthorized status;

vii.  Allowing, whether by action or non-action, Mr. Pyper’s attendance at or use of office space at the SLG;

viii.  Meeting with Mr. Pyper at the SLG, thereby allowing Mr. Pyper to hold himself out as being associated with yourself or the SLG in a professional capacity;

ix.  Permitting Mr. Pyper to make use of SLG’s name or an association – whether real or manufactured – with the SLG, by utilizing SLG’s name or other identifying information or resources in correspondence, documents, or communications;

x.  Failing to establish protocols at the SLG offices in relation to how your staff should deal with Mr. Pyper and clients who contacted the offices asking for Mr. Pyper;

xi.  Accepting or permitting to be accepted by anyone at the SLG any correspondence or communication addressed to or otherwise destined for Mr. Pyper;

xii.  Permitting Mr. Pyper to make arrangements through your staff in relation to payments from your clients, including “retainer(s)”;

(e)  Adopting positions taken by Mr. Pyper in court, taking no meaningful role in proceedings, and allowing Mr. Pyper to address the court in relation to the S Group matter; therefore, permitting Mr. Pyper to appear in court and actively participate in formal legal proceedings on behalf of a client, where he was not acting in a supporting role to yourself or another lawyer;

(f)  Permitting Mr. Pyper to take instructions from clients, without you directing the client to Mr. Pyper for that purpose and without the instructions being relayed to you as soon as reasonably possible;

(g)  Giving Mr. Pyper access to without prejudice settlement offers on files, thereby allowing Mr. Pyper to obtain settlement instructions from clients;

(h)  Permitting Mr. Pyper to sign a letter on SLG letterhead, dated June 16, 2015, to YR, in regards to an action against VW, when:

i.  This letter was not of a routine administrative nature;

ii.  Mr. Pyper was not specifically directed to sign this letter either by yourself or a supervising lawyer;

iii.  The letter did not disclose that Mr. Pyper was a non-lawyer; and/or

iv.  The letter contained legal opinions;

(i)  Signing, commissioning and endorsing documents that you knew or ought to have known had been prepared by Mr. Pyper.

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

Conduct in relation to the public, other lawyers, and the court/tribunal

2.  In or between October 2015 and February 2017, in the course of acting for S Inc., E Ltd., B Ltd., H LTD., MS, and/or SS, you failed to practice law and discharge all your responsibilities with candour, fairness, courtesy, civility, good faith, respect, the requisite honour and integrity, and by communicating in a manner that was abusive, offensive, or otherwise inconsistent with the proper tone of a professional communication from a lawyer, contrary to one or more of rules 2.1-2, 2.1-4, 2.2-1, 5.1-1, 5.1-2, 5.1-5, 7.2-1 and/or 7.2-4 of the Code of Professional Conduct for British Columbia, by doing one or more of the following:

(a)  On or about November 13, 2015, sending or permitting to be sent, a letter to the Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training in relation to litigation matters, which included the following statements:

i.  “It is our experience and observation that the level of discrimination by [Government agency] viz-a-viz these companies is astounding and outrageous”;

ii.  “[Government agency] in 2013 filed over 900 pages of false Affidavits trying to convince the Supreme Court that E Ltd. and S Inc. principals should go to jail for exposing people to asbestos”;

iii.  “[Government agency] is now repeating that same application, again on false and inaccurate affidavits”;

iv.  “The internal Review process of [Government agency] is to say the least corrupt”;

v.  “Officers are issuing false orders just to cancel the orders later”;

vi.  “Officers are tampering with evidence just to dismiss review applications”;

vii.  “[Government agency] even went so far as to publish false information about some of our Clients in the media, just to turn the public against our Clients”;

viii.  “We urge the BC Government to look into the discriminatory conduct of the Board of [Government agency] and its appointed Lawyers who serve as the executive tool of the Board to eradicate Indo Canadian business men”;

ix.  “The system, with respect is corrupt to its core”;

(b)  On or about December 14, 2015, sending or permitting to be sent a letter in relation to litigation which included the following statements:

i.  “Inescapable facts have emerged that [Government agency] is targeting MS to eradicate him from operating in the asbestos abatement industry”;

ii.  “[Government agency] regards MS as a pariah that must be eradicated”;

iii.  “[Government agency] has engaged in a disgraceful strategy to incarcerate MS”;

iv.  “[Government agency] has published false and defamatory information in the media and World Wide Web which portrayed MS as killer/murderer who ought to be removed from society”;

(c)  On or about December 18, 2015, sending or permitting to be sent a letter in relation to litigation which included the following statements:

i.  “… [Government agency] pounced on the opportunity to intensified (sic) its attack on our clients who were vulnerable (with no legal counsel) at the time”;

(c)  On or about December 23, 2015, filing or permitting to be filed a Notice of Application on behalf of your client(s), which included the following statements:

i.  “[Government agency] has intensified its discriminatory attacks on the Applicants since the Order of a Justice of the Supreme Court.  It seems that Order of the Justice has hurt the ego of [Government agency] (sic) and is now engaging in any tactics, whether legal, illegal, unethical, immoral and plain and simple disgraceful, it does not matter”;

ii.  “BP then obviously decides to hide the truth from the Court …”;

iii.  ”BP then carried on misleading the Court …”;

iv.  “BP again deceived Mr. Justice D …”;

v.  “BP and NB further elected to withhold more important and crucial information from the Court”;

(e)  On or about December 28, 2015, sending or permitting to be sent a letter to counsel for [Government agency] in relation to litigation which included the following statements:

i.  “… we trust you had the opportunity to reflect on your disgraceful conduct”;

ii.  “Your conduct and the level of corruption in the ranks of [Government agency] has reached levels of unacceptable proportions”;

(f)  On or about January 4, 2016, filing or permitting to be filed an Application Response on behalf of your client(s), which included the following statements:

i.  “…lawyers, such as NB and BP … are not interested in due process”;

ii.  “The Respondents state that [Government agency] lack (sic) an honest belief in the guilt of the Respondents. The discrimination and unfair treatment by [Government agency] is political and financially motivated”;

iii.  “[Government agency] is activated by malice or a primary purpose other than that of carrying the law into effect…”;

iv.  “The Application of the Applicants brought with an ulterior motive, not based on the facts or the law”;

(g)  On or about February 3, 2016, filing or permitting to be filed a Notice of Application on behalf of your client(s), which included further statements similar to those set out in subparagraphs d) to f) above;

(h)  On or about February 15, 2016, filing or permitting to be filed an Application Response on behalf of your client(s), which included further statements similar to those set out in subparagraphs d) to g) above:

(i)  On or about November 4, 2016, sending or permitting to be sent a letter which included the following statements:

i.  “We intend to bring an application in the Supreme Court to have both you, BP and NB recused from all future Court proceedings against our Clients”;

ii.  “We do realize that an Application will become a public record which may have devastating repercussions on you(r) respective careers. We emphasize that this must not be construed as a threat. It is pure and simple a matter of courtesy”;

iii.  “Unfortunately the [Government agency] regime has tainted your judgment and conduct as lawyers, which is regrettable”;

iv.  “We kindly request that you respond to a private email…”;

(j)  On or about November 20, 2016, commissioning the Affidavit of MS for the purpose of being used in litigation, which included the following statements:

i.  “Mr. Justice D based on the false statements made to him by BP. Mr. Justice instead attacked the Plaintiffs”;

ii.  “Both lawyers are breaking the ethical rules governing them just to annihilate the Plaintiffs”;

iii.  “… NB and BP have gone totally rogue”;

(k)  On or about November 21, 2016, filing or permitting to be filed the aforementioned Affidavit, in the Vancouver Supreme Court Registry;

(l)  On or about November 22, 2016, commissioning a second Affidavit of MS for the purpose of being used in litigation, which included the following statements:

i.  “I am deeply troubled by the fact that the Applicants do not receive the same treatment in the Court than [Government agency]. This is now the 5th application that I am involved in that I am continuing to observe that the government/[Government agency/BP and NB are getting preferential treatment. I am perceiving that the scales of justice are out of balance”;

ii.  “I am perceiving that the Judge is biased towards the Applicants and the decision to dismiss the Applicants’ motion has been made from the outset, before Mr. Pyper even tried to present the Applicants’ Application to the Court”;

iii.  “I am observing that the Applicants are not receiving a fair hearing. It clearly appears to SS and I that the Judge is disgruntled with the Application and cannot finish it soon enough to assist BP and NB …”;

(m)  On or about November 22, 2016, filing or permitting to be filed the aforementioned second Affidavit, in the Vancouver Supreme Court Registry;

(n)  On or about January 17, 2017, commissioning a third Affidavit of MS for the purpose of being used in litigation, which included the inappropriate statements in relation to Mr. Justice M and counsel for the Law Society;

(o)  On or about January 19, 2017, filing or permitting to be filed the aforementioned Affidavit, in the Vancouver Supreme Court Registry;

(p)  On or about January 17, 2017, commissioning the Affidavit of SS for the purpose of being used in litigation, which included the following statements:

i.  “I am perceiving and experiencing that [Government agency] now has an insider in the Supreme Court who speak to the judges who hear the Plaintiffs matters. The Plaintiffs are being treated by the Courts as scandalous because we have the audacity to defend the relentless attacks of [Government agency]”;

ii.  “I am observing that [Government agency’s] In-house Counsel mislead the Judges”;

iii.  “I appreciate that SN, former in-house lawyer of [Government agency], is now a Deputy Registrar of the Supreme Court. It is unfortunate that he was involved to set up the attack and onslaught by [Government agency]”;

(q)  On or about January 19, 2017, filing or permitting to be filed the aforementioned Affidavit, in the Vancouver Supreme Court Registry;

(r)  On or about January 27, 2017, commissioning the Affidavit of MS for the purpose of being used in litigation, which included the following statements:

i.  “I have noticed that Judges of the Supreme Court, have become hostile towards Mr. Pyper …;

ii.  “… Mr. Pyper has become a target and an enemy of the BC Government and the Courts …”

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

Conduct in relation to improperly commissioned documents

3.  On or between September 27, 2015 and March 15, 2016, you improperly commissioned one or more of the following documents when you had not witnessed YR affixing her signature to them, contrary to rule 3.1-2 and Appendix A of the Code of Professional Conduct for British Columbia:

(a)  The affidavit of YR, purportedly commissioned by you on September 27, 2015;

(b)  A Land Title Act Form A Freehold Transfer form, purportedly commissioned by you on December 31, 2015;

(c)  The statutory declaration of YR, purportedly commissioned by you on December 31, 2015;

(d)  A second Land Title Act Form A Freehold Transfer form, purportedly commissioned by you on March 15, 2016;

(e)  The solemn declaration of YR, purportedly commissioned by you on March 15, 2016.

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

Conduct in relation to quality of service

4.  Between June 2015 and January 2017, in the course of representing CA in a family law matter, you failed to provide your client with the quality of service required of a competent lawyer, contrary to one or more of rules 3.1-2 and 3.2-1 of the Code of Professional Conduct for British Columbia, by failing to do one or more the following:

(a)  Personally meeting with your client;

(b)  Getting proper instructions from your client;

(c)  Properly preparing for the court appearances in your client’s matter;

(d)  Following your client’s instructions;

(e)  Keeping the client reasonably informed of her matter, including the outcome of a court appearance.

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

Conduct in relation to the Law Society

5.  In or between August 2016 to October 2018, in the course of an investigation of the complaints made against you, you provided untruthful or misleading responses to the Law Society, or failed to respond fully and substantially to requests made by the Law Society, or both, contrary to one or more of Rule 3-5(7) of the Law Society Rules, rules 2.2-1 and/or 7.1-1 of the Code of Professional Conduct for British Columbia, by doing one or more of the following:

(a)  Claiming that you never discussed YR’s, CA’s, S Inc.’s, MS’s, SS’s, C Group’s, and/or RD’s legal matters with Gerhardus Albertus Pyper (“Mr. Pyper”);

(b)  Claiming that you had conduct of the civil matter of YR commencing in about June 2015 and mischaracterizing the work you had performed on her matter;

(c)  Claiming that you were not aware that Mr. Pyper was engaged in the practice of law in respect to YR, CA, S Inc., MS, SS, C Group, and/or RD;

(d)  Claiming that you did not give Mr. Pyper access to client file materials for YR, CA, S Inc., MS, SS, C Group, and/or RD.

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