Complaints, Lawyer Discipline and Public Hearings

Summary of Decision on Disciplinary Action

Gerhardus Albertus Pyper

Surrey, BC

Called to the bar: December 9, 2002

Ceased membership: January 29, 2015

Discipline hearing: May 1, 2019

Panel: Joost Blom, QC (chair), Robert Smith

Decision issued: June 14, 2019 (2019 LSBC 21)

Counsel: Kieron Grady for the Law Society; no one appearing on behalf of Gerhardus Albertus Pyper

BACKGROUND

A hearing panel found that Gerhardus Albertus Pyper had committed professional misconduct in failing to provide an adequate quality of service for his client and in failing to recommend that the client obtain independent legal advice after Pyper had committed a professional error. The panel also found that Pyper performed his duties as a lawyer incompetently (2018 LSBC 28).

DISCIPLINARY ACTION

Pyper did not attend the hearings on facts and determination and on disciplinary action, nor did anyone appear on his behalf. The panel determined that Pyper had been served with notice of the hearing date in accordance with Law Society Rules.

The Law Society sought a finding of ungovernability against Pyper and submitted that, if such a finding is made, disbarment is the appropriate disciplinary action.

The hearing panel considered Pyper’s professional conduct record. In March 2014 the Law Society placed a number of restrictions on Pyper’s practice and in May 2014 Pyper was suspended primarily for failing to eliminate shortages in his trust accounts. In January 2016 a hearing panel found that Pyper had committed professional misconduct by practising law while suspended (2016 LSBC 01). Pyper appealed the decision to the BC Court of Appeal, which dismissed the appeal in March 2017. In October 2017 the hearing panel imposed a two-month suspension, which, given that he was not a member of the Law Society at the time, would commence if and when he was readmitted to the Law Society (2017 LSBC 35).  The Law Society sought, and in July 2017 was granted, an injunction from the Supreme Court of BC prohibiting Pyper from practising law.  In March 2018, a hearing panel found that Pyper had committed professional misconduct by failing to respond to several communications (2018 LSBC 10), and in January 2019 imposed a suspension of three months to commence immediately following the two-month suspension ordered in 2017 (2019 LSBC 01).

The panel found that Pyper is ungovernable, and considered that finding that a lawyer is ungovernable is inconsistent with the lawyer’s continuing in practice or, in the case of a former lawyer, having a right to return to practice, and that, in such cases, disbarment is the only logical response.

The panel ordered that Pyper

  • be disbarred, and
  • pay costs of $14,027.42.

2019 LSBC 21 Decision on Disciplinary Action