Complaints, Lawyer Discipline and Public Hearings

Summary of Decision on Preliminary Questions


Thomas Paul Harding

Surrey, BC

Called to the bar: August 31, 1990

Decision issued: August 15, 2019 (2019 LSBC 30)

Hearing Panel: Steven McKoen, QC, chair; Lindsay LeBlanc; Brendan Matthews

Counsel: Kenneth McEwan, QC, and Eileen Patel for the Law Society; Gerry Cuttler, QC, and Oliver Pulleyblank for Thomas Paul Harding

BACKGROUND

A citation was issued on April 26, 2018 alleging that Thomas Paul Harding made improper submissions to a jury in closing argument, which resulted in a mistrial, and made improper comments to a journalist about an expert witness and the judiciary.

Harding seeks preliminary determination on the following questions:

  • whether the citation should be stayed in its entirety because of inordinate delay by the Law Society,
  • whether the citation should be stayed, except insofar as it relates to the allegation that Harding made improper comments to a journalist, because of inordinate or unacceptable delay by the Law Society, or
  • whether the allegation that Harding made an improper comment to a journalist about the judiciary should be dismissed because the email in question does not constitute professional misconduct, having properly balanced the relevant Charter value with the Law Society’s public mandate.

DECISION ON PRELIMINARY QUESTIONS

The hearing panel considered that, while five years between the alleged conduct and the citation may seem long, in fact during that time the Law Society was engaging in appropriate investigation or was appropriately awaiting the outcome of court proceedings on related matters. It also found that Harding had contributed in part to the time required for the investigation and had failed to establish significant prejudice resulting from any delay.

The panel also found that seeking to dismiss an allegation on the basis of a proper consideration of Charter values is not preliminary in nature, but rather would effectively be a rescission of the citation, which the panel does not have the jurisdiction to do.

The panel dismissed the application.

2019 LSBC 30 Decision on Preliminary Questions