Complaints, Lawyer Discipline and Public Hearings

 

Citation issued: February 7, 2020

John Murray Lott

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:

Conflict of Interest

1.  Between approximately September 2016 and May 2019, in the course of representing BS (the “Client”) in estate law proceedings, you acted in a conflict of interest and in breach of your duty of undivided loyalty to your Client by acting as an advocate for and advisor to her daughter SS, when she and the Client had different interests and there was a dispute between her and the Client in relation to a withdrawal of $100,000 from the Client’s bank account, contrary to one or more of rules 3.4-1 and 3.4-3 of the Code of Professional Conduct for British Columbia.

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

Quality of Service

2.  Between approximately September 2016 and May 2019, in the course of representing BS (the “Client”) in estate law proceedings, you acted in breach of your fiduciary duty or failed to provide the Client with the quality of service required of a lawyer, or both, contrary to rule 3.2-1 of the Code of Professional Conduct for British Columbia, by failing to do one or more of the following:

a)  obtain and follow the Client’s instructions, including with respect to a purported gift of $100,000 to her daughter, SS, as well as the revocation of SS’s power of attorney and the Client’s arrangements regarding her grandson, HS;

b)  ensure, where appropriate, that all instructions were in writing or confirmed in writing;

c)  answer reasonable requests from the Client for information, including requests for details with respect to your bills to her and copies of documents and correspondence referenced in your bills; and

d)  provide the Client with complete and accurate information about her matter, including by excluding her from communications and withholding information from her regarding the Client’s affairs, which you exchanged with her daughter, SS, and other members of the S family.

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

Approaching a Represented Party

3.  In February 2019, you approached and communicated with BS after she had retained and was represented by new counsel, in the absence of her new counsel and without her new counsel’s consent, contrary to rule 7.2-6 of the Code of Professional Conduct for British Columbia.

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

Failure to Properly Withdraw When Discharged by Client

4.  In February 2019, you failed to properly withdraw from representation of your then client, BS, after that client discharged you and retained new counsel, contrary to one or more of rules 3.7-7, 3.7-8, and 3.7-9 of the Code of Professional Conduct for British Columbia. 

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

Failure to Respond to Communications from another Lawyer

5.  Contrary to rule 7.2-5 of the Code of Professional Conduct for British Columbia, you failed to respond promptly or at all to a letter dated February 13, 2019 from your former client BS’s new counsel, DS, which letter:

a)  enclosed a handwritten direction signed by BS terminating your services as her lawyer and requesting that you provide her original will, which you held, to DS; and

b)  included a request by DS on SS’s behalf that you provide full details, including time spent, of the services you provided to SS in support of your invoice to her of February 1, 2019, together with copies of any emails and documents referenced in your bill.

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