Complaints, Lawyer Discipline and Public Hearings

 

Citation issued: May 22, 2020; amended June 16, 2020

Hong Guo

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:

1.  On or about December 16, 2011, in the course of acting for your client JL in relation to a business immigration application, you misappropriated or improperly handled some or all of approximately CAD $13,000 received as a retainer from your client by failing to deposit the trust funds into a pooled trust account, 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.

2.  On or about February 24, 2012, in the course of acting for your client HZ in relation to a business immigration application, you misappropriated or improperly handled some or all of approximately CAD $13,000 received as a retainer from your client by failing to deposit the trust funds into a pooled trust account, 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.  Between approximately September 2011 and May 2015, in the course of acting for your clients HZ and JL in relation to a business immigration application, you failed to comply with your accounting obligations under Part 3 Division 7 of the Law Society Rules, and in particular you failed to do one or more of the following:

(a)  account in writing to one or both of HZ and JL for all funds received on their behalf, contrary to Rule 3-48(1) [now Rule 3-54(1)] of the Law Society Rules;

(b)  deposit into trust client retainer funds, or maintain proper general account records, or both, contrary to one or more of Rules 3-51(1), 3-61 and 3-63(2) [now Rules 3-58(1), 3-69 and 3-72(2)] of the Law Society Rules;

(c)  record each transaction involving one or both of HZ and JL promptly or at all, contrary to Rule 3-63(1) [now Rule 3-72(1)] of the Law Society Rules; and

(d)  deliver a bill, immediately or at all, or issue a receipt for the funds received, or both, contrary to Rule 3-63(3) [now Rule 3-72(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.

4.  In your November 4, 2015 email to LB, counsel for your former client HZ, you made one or more representations that you knew or ought to have known were inaccurate or false, or both, contrary to rule 2.2-1 of the Code of Professional Conduct for British Columbia. In particular, you represented that:

(a)  you had not collected any retainer funds from HZ; and

(b)  you had never signed any contract with HZ.

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

5.  You failed to respond promptly or at all to one or more requests made by LB, counsel for your former client, HZ, in his letter dated October 14, 2015 and emails dated October 28, 2015 and November 3, 2015, contrary to rule 7.2-5 of the Code of Professional Conduct for British Columbia, for provision of one or more of the following:

(a)  your client trust ledger in respect of any retainer or trust funds received from HZ;

(b)  all Statements of Account you issued to HZ;

(c)  money you received further to any Statements of Account; and

(d)  a final bill for services rendered.

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

6.  Between approximately January 2016 and February 2020, in the course of an investigation into your conduct arising from a complaint made by LB, you made representations to the Law Society that you knew or ought to have known were false or inaccurate, or both, contrary to one or more of Rule 3-5(7) of the Law Society Rules and rules 2.2-1 and 7.1-1 of the Code of Professional Conduct for British Columbia. In particular, you made one or more of the following representations:

(a)  you were not aware of YB (also “BY” and “EY”) and her dealings with HZ (“Client Z”) and/or your firm and/or staff;

(b)  you were not aware of the existence of an immigration agency contract signed by Client Z;

(c)  you were not aware of a Payment Notice issued from your office to Client Z on September 28, 2013 for an immigration service fee of $20,000;

(d)  you were not aware of one or more payments from Client Z totaling 229,400 RMB (approximately $37,700 CAD) in connection with her immigration matter;

(e)  Client Z did not answer a July 13, 2015 email from EK of Guo Law Corporation requesting evidence that Client Z had paid 229,400 RMB (approximately $37,700 CAD) in connection with her immigration matter;

(f)  Client Z never provided evidence showing that she had made payments totaling 229,400 RMB (approximately $37,700 CAD) in connection with her immigration matter;

(g)  you were not aware of one or more payments from or made on behalf of JL (“Client L”) totaling approximately 199,562 RMB (approximately $33,000 CAD) in connection with his immigration matter;

(h)  you had never collected any fees or received any payment from or on behalf of Client L; and

(i)  you did not know a company by the name of Guo & Company Law Corporation and it was not your company.

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

7.  Between approximately September 2011 and April 2015, you failed to serve your client HZ (the “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 one or more of Chapter 3, Rule 3 of the Professional Conduct Handbook [in force prior to January 1, 2013] and rule 3.2-1 of the Code of Professional Conduct for British Columbia, by doing one or more of the following:

(a)  failing to inform the Client, in a timely manner, of the British Columbia Provincial Nominee Program’s (the “BC PNP”) denial of the Client’s application on December 2, 2013;

(b)  failing to obtain the Client’s instructions with respect to a contract of purchase and sale dated February 16, 2015 between the Client and G Ltd. (the “G Ltd. Contract”):

(c) prior to signing the G Ltd. Contract on the Client’s behalf; and

(d)  prior to the removal of subjects set out in the G Ltd. Contract,

(e)  failing to answer the Client’s direct and indirect reasonable requests for information with respect to the status of her immigration matter.

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