Complaints, Lawyer Discipline and Public Hearings

 

Citation issued: October 22, 2020

Rosario Cateno Di Bella

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.  Between approximately December 2018 and July 2019, in the course of representing your client PB in an estate matter, you failed to provide the quality of service required of a competent lawyer, 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)  ensure that court ordered monthly reports received by you from your client on or about February 28, 2019, March 29, 2019, May 1, 2019, May 31, 2019, and June 29, 2019, were forwarded to the opposing parties;

(b)  ensure that the Order of Mr. Justice Meiklem made December 10, 2018 was settled or submitted for entry in a timely manner;

(c)  ensure that you had applied for probate of the estate on behalf of your client in a timely manner;

(d)  inform your client that opposing counsel was considering a court application for your client’s failure to deliver monthly reports and apply for probate;

(e)  provide a substantive response to your client’s emails dated February 5, 2019, February 28, 2019, March 29, 2019, May 1, 2019, May 31, 2019, June 8, 2019, June 10, 2019, June 12, 2019, June 13, 2019, June 14, 2019, June 18, 2019, June 25, 2019, June 26, 2019, June 28, 2019, June 29, 2019, July 2, 2019, July 4, 2019, and July 10, 2019;

(f)  keep your client reasonably informed about the status of his file; and

(g)  answer reasonable requests from your client for information.

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

2.  Between approximately March 2019 and June 2020, in connection with your client or former client PB, you failed to answer with reasonable promptness one or more of the following communications from other lawyers that required a response, contrary to rule 7.2-5 of the Code of Professional Conduct for British Columbia:

(a)  letter from lawyer GG dated March 29, 2019; and

(b)  letters and emails from lawyer VP dated December 4, 2019, February 6, 2020, April 1, 2020 and May 7, 2020.

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

3.  Between approximately June 2019 and June 2020, you failed to cooperate in the Law Society of British Columbia’s investigation of complaint file number [number 1], contrary to one or more of Rules 3-5(7) and 3-5(11) of the Law Society Rules and rule 7.1-1 of the Code of Professional Conduct for British Columbia, by failing to respond fully and substantively by the date set, or at all, to requests in one or more letters or emails dated June 19, 2019, July 5, 2019, July 17, 2019, July 24, 2019, March 11, 2020, and April 6, 2020.

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

4.  Between approximately May 2017 and September 2020, in the course of acting in connection with the Estate of GY, the Estate of AY and the AY and GY Joint Spousal Trust, you failed to provide the quality of service required of a competent lawyer, 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)  ensure that the tax returns for the estates and spousal trust were prepared and filed in a timely manner;

(b)  inform the beneficiaries that death benefit cheques were available for pick up;

(c)  keep your client or the beneficiaries reasonably informed about the status of your administration of the spousal trust and estates;

(d)  prepare and deliver your accounts to the beneficiaries;

(e)  respond fully and substantively to communications from your client or the beneficiaries, including one or more of the following:

(i)  emails from JY dated November 29, 2017, January 2, 2018, January 3, 2018, January 10, 2018, February 5, 2018, February 13, 2018, February 28, 2018, June 27, 2018, July 19, 2018, March 28, 2019;

(ii)  53 telephone calls from JY between June 2018 and August 2019; and

(iii)  emails from CY dated June 12, 2018, June 27, 2018, July 16, 2018, and December 16, 2019;

(f)  keep your client or the beneficiaries reasonably informed about the status of the file(s); and

(g)  answer reasonable requests for information from your client or the beneficiaries.

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

5.  Between approximately November 2019 and June 2020, you failed to cooperate in the Law Society of British Columbia’s investigation of complaint file numbers [number 2] and [number 3], contrary to one or more of Rules 3-5(7) and 3-5(11) of the Law Society Rules and rule 7.1-1 of the Code of Professional Conduct for British Columbia, by failing to respond fully and substantively by the date set, or at all, to requests in one or more letters dated November 8, 2019, February 6, 2020, February 26, 2020, May 14, 2020, and August 6, 2020.

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

6.  Between approximately January 2019 and June 2020, you failed to cooperate in the Law Society of British Columbia’s investigation of complaint file number [number 4], contrary to one or more of Rules 3-5(7) and 3-5(11) of the Law Society Rules and rule 7.1-1 of the Code of Professional Conduct for British Columbia, by failing to respond fully and substantively by the date set, or at all, to requests in one or more letters or emails dated January 29, 2019, September 27, 2019, November 28, 2019, December 2, 2019, March 6, 2020, and May 14, 2020.

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