Complaints, Lawyer Discipline and Public Hearings

 

Citation issued: February 7, 2020

Serf Grewal

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:

Miscellaneous misappropriations for non-client-related expenses

1.  Between approximately November 2014 and November 2015, you misappropriated or improperly withdrew client trust funds when those funds were not properly required for payment to or on behalf of a client, contrary to former Rule 3-56(1) and current Rule 3-64(1) of the Law Society Rules, in one or more of the following instances:

a)  on or about November 7, 2014, you withdrew $450 from your trust account on behalf of your client G Inc. for payment to AC;

b)  on or about November 7, 2014, you withdrew $972.77 from your trust account on behalf of your client G Inc. for payment to HG;

c)  on or about November 7, 2014, you withdrew $50 from your trust account on behalf of your client G Inc. for payment to the South Asian Bar Association of British Columbia;

d) on or about November 12, 2014, you withdrew $208.87 from your trust account on behalf of your client G Inc. for payment to W Ltd.; and

e)  on or about November 1, 2015, you withdrew $710 from your trust account on behalf of your client SF for payment to K Ltd.

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

JS

2.  On or about October 28, 2014, in the course of acting for your client JS in relation to a real estate conveyance, you received trust funds of $3,770 for payment of property transfer tax and you failed to deposit the trust funds into a pooled trust account as soon as practicable, contrary to Rule 3-51(1) [now Rule 3-58(1)] of the Law Society Rules.

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

3.  On or about October 30, 2014, you misappropriated or improperly withdrew client trust funds on behalf of your client JS when there were insufficient funds held on deposit to the credit of JS, resulting in a trust shortage of $3,770, contrary to Rules 3-55 and 3-56(1.2)(b) [now Rules 3-63 and 3-64(3)(b)] of the Law Society Rules.

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

4.  On or about February 19, 2015, when you discovered the trust shortage caused by the improper withdrawal in allegation 3 above, you did not make a written report to the Executive Director of the Law Society of British Columbia, immediately or at all, contrary to Rule 3-66(2) [now Rule 3-74(2)] of the Law Society Rules.

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

YM

5.  On or about July 13, 2016, you received trust funds of $3,500 cash as a retainer on behalf of your client YM and you misappropriated or improperly handled some or all of those funds by failing to do one or more of the following:

a)  deposit the trust funds into a pooled trust account, contrary to Rule 3-58(1) of the Law Society Rules (the “Rules”);

b)  record the receipt of the funds as required by Rules 3-67 and 3-72 of the Rules; and

c)  maintain a trust ledger showing all trust funds received and disbursed on behalf of your client and the unexpended balance, contrary to Rule 3-68(b) of the Rules.

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

6.  On or about September 24, 2016, you received trust funds of $2,500 cash as a retainer on behalf of your client YM and you misappropriated or improperly handled some or all of those funds by failing to do one or more of the following:

a)  deposit the trust funds into a pooled trust account, contrary to Rule 3-58(1) of the Law Society Rules (the “Rules”);

b)  record the receipt of the funds as required by Rules 3-67 and 3-72 of the Rules;

c)  issue a receipt to your client, contrary to Rules 3-54 and 3-70(3) of the Rules; and

d)  maintain a trust ledger showing all trust funds received and disbursed on behalf of your client and the unexpended balance, contrary to Rule 3-68(b) of the Rules.

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

AW

7.  On or about December 14, 2016, you misappropriated or improperly withdrew client trust funds totaling $2,500 on behalf of your client AW in payment of your purported fees and disbursements when those funds were not properly required for payment on behalf of AW or when you had not first prepared and immediately delivered a bill to AW, contrary to one or both of Rules 3-64(1) and 3-65(2) of the Law Society Rules.

 

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

8.  On or about February 17, 2017, you misappropriated or improperly withdrew client trust funds totaling $1,000 on behalf of your client AW in payment of your purported fees and disbursements when those funds were not properly required for payment on behalf of AW or when you had not first prepared and immediately delivered a bill to AW, contrary to one or both of Rules 3-64(1) and 3-65(2) of the Law Society Rules.

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

9.  On or about May 2, 2017, you misappropriated or improperly withdrew client trust funds totaling $2,000 on behalf of your client AW in payment of your purported fees and disbursements when those funds were not properly required for payment on behalf of AW or when you had not first prepared and immediately delivered a bill to AW, and when you held only $1,500 to the credit of AW resulting in a trust shortage of $500, contrary to one or more of Rules 3-63, 3-64, and 3-65(2) of the Law Society Rules.

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

Miscellaneous trust shortages identified in 2017 LSBC compliance audit

10.  Between approximately June 2016 and January 2018, you misappropriated or improperly withdrew client trust funds totaling $28,348.44 in one or more of 15 instances identified in Schedule “A” when there were insufficient funds held on deposit to the credit of the clients, resulting in one or more of the trust shortages identified in Schedule “A”, contrary to one or both of Rules 3-63 and 3-64(3)(b) of the Law Society Rules.Miscellaneous accounting Rules breaches

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

11.  Between approximately April 2014 and January 2018, you failed to comply with your accounting obligations under Part 3 Division 7 of the Law Society Rules and in particular:

a)  you improperly withdrew funds from your trust account by way of electronic transfer to your general account and/or by way of debiting your trust account with the use of a bank card, contrary to former Rule 3-56 and one or both of current Rules 3-64 and 3-64.1;

b)  you failed to record trust transactions promptly and in any event not more than seven days after a trust transaction, contrary to former Rule 3-63(1)(a) and current Rule 3-72(1)(a);

c)  you failed to record transactions for your general account promptly and in any event not more than 30 days after each general transaction, contrary to former Rule 3-63(1)(b) and current Rule 3-72(1)(b);

d)  you failed to perform monthly trust reconciliations within 30 days after the effective date of the reconciliation, contrary to former Rule 3-65 and current Rule 3-73; and

e)  you improperly withdrew funds from your trust account when your trust accounting records were not current, contrary to former Rule 3-56(1.2) and current Rule 3-64(3).

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

Failure to report judgment / insolvency / misleading LSBC

12.  On or about June 14, 2011, you failed to notify the Executive Director of the Law Society of British Columbia in writing of the circumstances of a monetary judgment against you dated April 19, 2011 in the amount of $8,202.73 in favour of Vancouver City Savings Credit Union in Provincial Court of British Columbia Action No. [number], Vancouver Registry, and your proposal for satisfying the judgment, contrary to Rule 3-44 [now Rule 3-50] of the Law Society Rules.

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

13.  On or about November 29, 2011, you represented to the Law Society of British Columbia in your Annual Practice Declaration for 2011 that you did not become insolvent or bankrupt or have a judgment rendered against you during the reporting period when you knew or ought to have known that the answer was not true.

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

14.  On or about August 31, 2012, you failed to notify the Executive Director of the Law Society of British Columbia in writing that you had become an insolvent lawyer and deliver to the Executive Director all required materials and information, contrary to Rule 3-45(2) [now Rule 3-51(1)] of the Law Society Rules.

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

15.  Between approximately August 31, 2012 and January 17, 2014, you operated a trust account while you were an insolvent lawyer without the permission of the Executive Director of the Law Society of British Columbia and without a second signatory approved by the Executive Director, contrary to Rule 3-45(4) [now Rule 3-51(3)] of the Law Society Rules.

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

16.  On or about December 28, 2012, you represented to the Law Society of British Columbia in your Annual Practice Declaration for 2012 that you did not become insolvent or bankrupt or have a judgment rendered against you during the reporting period when you knew or ought to have known that the answer was not true.

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

17.  On or about October 25, 2013, you represented to the Law Society of British Columbia in your trust report for the period ending May 31, 2013, which you certified to be “true and correct”, that your practice did not have a signatory to a trust account who was an insolvent lawyer when you knew or ought to have known that the answer was not true.

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

18.  On or about October 31, 2014, you represented to the Law Society of British Columbia in your trust report for the period ending May 31, 2014, which you certified to be “true and correct”, that your practice did not have a signatory to a trust account who was an insolvent lawyer when you knew or ought to have known that the answer was not true.

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

Improper commissioning of affidavit

19.  On or about May 16, 2017, in the course of representing your client AW in a family law proceeding, you improperly swore AW's Form F8 Affidavit when she was not physically present before you, contrary to Appendix A and commentary [7] to Appendix A of the Code of Professional Conduct for British Columbia.

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