Complaints, Lawyer Discipline and Public Hearings

Summary of Decision of the Hearing Panel

Sanda Ling King

Surrey, BC

Called to the bar: February 20, 1998

Discipline hearing: December 10, 2018

Panel: Elizabeth Rowbotham, chair; Dan Goodleaf; and David Layton, QC

Decision issued: March 11, 2019 (2019 LSBC 07)

Counsel: Gavin Cameron for the Law Society; Robyn Jarvis for Sanda Ling King

AGREED FACTS

Sanda Ling King had acted for a husband and wife in their purchase of a home, which was registered in the name of the wife and her father. After the couple separated they commenced matrimonial proceedings, and the wife put the property up for sale, despite a court order restricting disposition of the property.

The husband wanted to ensure that his mother would be repaid for financial assistance she had provided to the family, and said he would register a certificate of pending litigation against the property if an agreement on the disposition of sale proceeds could not be reached.

A contract of purchase and sale was entered, even though no agreement regarding disposition of proceeds was reached. King represented the wife and her father in sale of property. The husband registered a certificate of pending litigation against the property

The wife advised King of the certificate of pending litigation and said it needed to be removed to facilitate the sale. The husband, who had been arrested and was now in jail following an altercation with the wife and their daughter, also called King and asked her to remove the certificate of pending litigation.

King drafted a release of the certificate of pending litigation and took it to the Pre-Trial Centre. The husband said he wanted to ensure his mother received $40,000 from the sale, and signed the release. King did not advise him to get independent legal advice, nor that she was not protecting his interests and was acting exclusively in the interests of the wife and her father.

King’s law partner met with the wife and her father to attend to the completion of the sale documents. As King was preparing to file the certificate of pending litigation release, she noticed that she had forgotten to add the officer certification. She altered the original document by cutting and pasting her officer certification onto it. She also changed the file number at the top of the release, then applied her own initials and initials purporting to be the husband’s to the amended portion of the release. She did not advise the husband the she had amended the release, and did not advise the Land Title Office that the release was not a true copy of the original.

On closing of the sale, $40,000 went to the husband’s mother and the remainder was disbursed to the wife, her father and other relatives.

ADMISSION AND DETERMINATION

The panel approved King’s conditional admission of professional misconduct.

In assessing the proposed disciplinary action, the panel considered that altering a document and knowingly filing a document that is not a true copy of the original constitutes very serious misconduct, as does a lawyer’s failure to advise an unrepresented person to obtain independent representation and to tell the person the lawyer is not acting exclusively in the person’s interest. The panel took into consideration that King acknowledged her misconduct early in the discipline process and that this was her first conduct matter.

DISCIPLINARY ACTION

The panel ordered that King pay:

  • a fine of $8,000; and
  • costs of $750.

2019 LSBC 07 Decision of the Hearing Panel