Complaints, Lawyer Discipline and Public Hearings

Summary of Decision on Disciplinary Action

Thomas Paul Harding

Surrey, BC

Called to the bar: August 31, 1990

Discipline hearing: January 10, 2018

Panel: Shona Moore, QC (chair); Dan Goodleaf; Lisa J. Hamilton, QC

Decision issued: March 13, 2018 (2018 LSBC 09)

Counsel: Robin N. McFee, QC, and Jessie I. Meikle-Kahs for the Law Society; Gerald A. Cuttler, QC, for Thomas Paul Harding

FACTS AND DETERMINATION

In June 2012, Thomas Paul Harding got into a dispute with an employee at an automobile towing facility. He moved his car to block access to the storage area, called the police and said he needed “ someone there to talk to these idiots because otherwise you’ ll have to send a police officer probably to arrest me because I’ m going to go get a crowbar and smash up the place.”

On June 27, 2014, a hearing panel found that none of Harding’ s interactions with the employee or with the police dispatcher constituted professional misconduct (2014 LSBC 29).

The Discipline Committee sought a review of the hearing panel decision and on October 20, 2015, the Review Board reversed the hearing panel’ s decision and found that Harding had committed professional misconduct (2015 LSBC 45).

Harding appealed the Review Board decision to the BC Court of Appeal and on May 2, 2017, the court dismissed Harding’ s appeal.

DISCIPLINARY ACTION

The hearing panel found that Harding had not intended his remark as a threat but as a means of persuading the police to attend to what was essentially a trivial dispute. The nature and gravity of that conduct it found to be an aggravating factor in determining the appropriate sanction.

The panel reviewed Harding’ s professional conduct record, which included four instances arising from incivility. However, he had taken appropriate steps to address his mood and anger issues.

The hearing panel considered that a significant consequence was required as a general deterrence to the profession and to ensure the public’ s confidence in the legal profession. The panel also reviewed penalties imposed in past discipline cases involving similar misconduct.

The hearing panel ordered that Harding:

  • be suspended for three weeks, to commence on a date agreed to by counsel, but no more than five months from the date of the decision; and
  • pay costs in the amount of $4,744.79.

2018 LSBC 09 Decision on Disciplinary Action