Complaints, Lawyer Discipline and Public Hearings

Summary of Decision on Motion the Panel be Reconstituted


George Coutlee

Kamloops, BC

Called to the bar: January 10, 1978

Decision issued: November 16, 2018 (2018 LSBC 33)

Hearing panel: Shona Moore, QC (chair); Darlene Hammell; Michael Welsh, QC

Counsel: Jaia Rai for the Law Society, George Coutlee on his own behalf

BACKGROUND

A citation alleges that George Coutlee provided legal services in a family law matter, contrary to an order of a disciplinary hearing panel suspending him from the practice of law in all fields except criminal defence and personal injury claims. The citation originated with a complaint from a former client, who later submitted a statement to the Law Society that the legal advice provided by Coutlee was within his permitted areas of practice. That statement was supported by one from the complainant’s former spouse, also refuting the basis for the citation.

Coutlee initially applied for a stay of the citation on the basis that Law Society investigation staff failed to give the logical interpretation to the two statements that they would have given to similar statements from a person who is Caucasian or other race. When that application was denied, Coutlee applied to have the panel reconstituted on the basis that he would be more self-assured of a non-discriminatory decision were an Indigenous person on the panel.

DECISION ON MOTION THE PANEL BE RECONSTITUTED

In addition to considering the written and oral submissions of Coutlee and the Law Society, the panel considered the comments of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada on the lack of “adequate cultural, historical, or psychological knowledge” on the part of many lawyers, and concluded that specifically addressing cultural competencies on the panel is warranted in this case.

The panel granted the application and referred the matter to the president’s designate as effective chair of the Law Society Tribunal, with a recommendation that the hearing panel be reconstituted to include an Indigenous person.

2018 LSBC 33 Decision on Preliminary Motion that Panel be Reconstituted