Complaints, Lawyer Discipline and Public Hearings

Summary of Decision of the President’s Designate on an Application for Adjournment


Peter Darren Steven Hart

Called to the Bar: May 20, 1994

Written materials: October 31 and November 1, 2019

President’s designate: Sarah Westwood

Decision issued: November 8, 2019

Counsel: Alison Kirby for the Law Society, Peter Firestone for Peter Darren Steven Hart

BACKGROUND

Peter Darren Steven Hart applied for adjournment of a hearing that had been scheduled for November 18 to 22, 2019 regarding a citation issued September 26, 2018.  The Law Society opposed the application.

Hart had admitted most of the facts underlying the citation in response to a Notice to Admit. He retained legal counsel only on October; 25, 2019, although there is a submission that he had sought counsel earlier but that intention was frustrated by the unexpected illness of that other counsel.

Hart had previously indicated that he intended to consent to a without-prejudice resolution that would resolve the citation. However, new counsel advised him to reject the resolution proposal and proceed with a hearing. Hart’s counsel indicated that he may apply to withdraw the admissions made by Hart. If the adjournment was not granted, counsel would not be able to act for Hart as there was not time to review the disclosure and adequately prepare for a hearing.

The primary factor weighing against adjournment is the almost 14 months that had passed since the citation was issued. Further delay runs contrary to the protection of the public, which requires that administration of justice move forward in a timely and expeditious matter.

However, if the adjournment were not granted, Hart would face, without counsel, a multi-day hearing that could result in disbarment or suspension.

DECISION ON APPLICATION FOR ADJOURNMENT

The adjournment was granted, with the following conditions:

  1. the new hearing date for the citation will be peremptory on the respondent; and
  2. a prehearing conference must be scheduled before December 20, 2019, at which time the parties will:
  • set any further prehearing applications and confirm dates for the exchange of related materials;
  • confirm time estimates and set hearing dates for the citation;
  • set such further prehearing conferences as may be required or of assistance in moving this matter forward; and
  • address such other matters as the parties and the Chambers Bencher deem advisable or necessary.

2019 LSBC 39 Decision on an Application to Adjourn