Complaints, Lawyer Discipline and Public Hearings

Summary of Decision of the Hearing Panel

Ian David Reith

Whistler, BC

Called to the bar: May 19, 1989

Hearing date: May 1, 2018

Panel: Jamie Maclaren, QC, chair, Paula Cayley and John Waddell, QC

Decision issued: July 31, 2018 (2018 LSBC 23)

Counsel: Patrick M. McGowan for the Law Society; Ian David Reith on his own behalf

AGREED FACTS

Between February 2010 and May 2014, Ian David Reith contravened six trust accounting rules by failing to maintain trust account records, failing to record each trust transaction promptly, failing to prepare monthly trust reconciliations, failing to withdraw his funds from a trust account as soon as practicable, maintaining more than $300 of his own funds in a trust account, and making payments from trust funds when his trust accounting records were not current.

ADMISSION AND DETERMINATION

The panel accepted Reith’s admission that he breached six trust accounting rules and that his conduct amounted to professional misconduct.

DISCIPLINARY ACTION

The panel considered the gravity and consequences of Reith’s misconduct. It concluded that each of the six breaches of accounting rules is serious and, “taken together as a pattern of prolonged misconduct, they are inexcusable.”

The panel also considered Reith’s conduct history. In 2014 and again for a separate matter in 2016, Reith was cited for misconduct relating to his actions while acting for multiple parties in a real estate conveyance. In each case, Reith was required to pay a fine and costs.

The panel noted that Reith had not acknowledged his misconduct until just before the hearing and, as of the date of the hearing, had not produced a trust reconciliation or assisted Law Society staff in producing one.

The panel also considered the need to preserve the public confidence in lawyers’ handling of trust funds, the concept of progressive discipline and sanctions imposed in prior cases of multiple breaches of trust accounting rules. The panel ordered that Reith:

  • be suspended for 30 days
  • pay costs of $7,472.50; and
  • be prohibited from operating the trust account in question until the Law Society has determined the rightful owners of all funds held in it.

2018 LSBC 23 Decision of the Hearing Panel