Complaints, Lawyer Discipline and Public Hearings

Summary of Decision on Disciplinary Action


Amarjit Singh Dhindsa

Abbotsford, BC

Called to the bar: June 8, 2001

Hearing: May 30 and June 27, 2019

Panel: Martin Finch, QC (chair); Carol Gibson; Lindsay R. LeBlanc

Decision issued: September 24, 2019 (2019 LSBC 36)

Counsel: Alison Kirby for the Law Society; Gerald A. Cuttler, QC, for Amarjit Singh Dhindsa

BACKGROUND

The hearing panel had previously found that Amarjit Singh Dhindsa committed professional misconduct by acting in a conflict of interest, breaching undertakings and failing to honour a trust condition relating to his representation of a developer with respect to its purchase and sale of a development property (2019 LSBC 05).

DISCIPLINARY ACTION

In determining the appropriate disciplinary action, the panel considered that Dhindsa was in a conflict of interest in acting for 93 end purchasers and their financial institutions and committed breaches of undertakings in connection with 16 separate real estate transactions.

Although Dhindsa maintained that no one was harmed, undertakings are the essential underpinning upon which real estate transactions can safely occur in British Columbia, and the importance of adherence to an undertaking cannot be dismissed or discounted by consideration of whether harm happened to occur.

The panel found that Dhindsa had a financial gain by acting for two parties in the transaction. The panel also found that Dhindsa was motivated by personal gain when he registered transfer documents without holding sufficient funds in his trust account to complete a transaction. His client faced the loss of a deposit of $100,000, and Dhindsa refused to immediately withdraw the transfer document as requested by the opposing lawyer, thereby protecting the client’ s interest and ultimately his own.

Dhindsa’ s professional conduct record includes two conduct reviews, practice standards recommendations, and a previous citation that resulted in an admission of professional misconduct. Dhindsa did not implement the standards of practice urged in prior conduct reviews regarding the supervision of staff and review of files to ensure compliance with undertakings. The panel concluded that Dhindsa’ s conduct record is substantial and the prior breaches of undertakings in real estate transactions are aggravating factors.

The panel considered that, if the sanction does not reflect the seriousness of the conduct, public confidence in the integrity of the legal profession would be eroded, and the principle of progressive discipline supports a suspension instead of a fine.

The panel ordered that Dhindsa:

  1. be suspended from the practice of law for seven weeks; and
  2. pay costs of $14,648.34.

2019 LSBC 36 Decision on Disciplinary Action - Respondent's S. 47 Notice of Review received; Stay of suspension granted