Complaints, Lawyer Discipline and Public Hearings

Summary of Admission of Misconduct and Undertakings

Homayoun Sebastian Nejat

Vancouver, BC

Called to the bar: June 1, 2010

Voluntary withdrawal of membership: November 26, 2018

Admission and undertaking accepted: October 24, 2019

AGREED FACTS

Citation authorized December 7, 2017, amended March 6, 2018

In the course of acting for a client regarding an appeal of a Provincial Court family law matter, Homayoun Sebastian Nejat misled his client by: stating that a written outline had been sent to the court for filing when it had not been; failing to advise his client that opposing counsel had filed an application for dismissal of the appeal; and telling his client that a hearing had been set to “determine the issue of perfecting the appeal” when the date had been set to hear the opposing party’s application to dismiss the appeal. Nejat represented to the court that he had instructions to bring an application to extend the time to perfect his client’s appeal when he knew he did not have those instructions. He also failed to provide his client with information about the file, answer client communications, and ensure that work was done in a timely manner.

Citation authorized June 7, 2018

In a trial at which Nejat represented a client in relation to a business agreement with a third party, the judge rejected the client’s arguments and found that there were significant problems with the agreement. The client testified that he had not consented to changes that had been made to the termination clause of the agreement, and blamed Nejat for not paying attention to those changes. Nejat did not recognize that he was in a conflict of interest, and did not recommend to the client that the client obtain independent legal advice.

Nejat appealed the decision at his client’s instruction, without advising the client to obtain independent legal advice about Nejat’s ability to continue acting in the matter. For approximately one year Nejat failed to take steps to advance the appeal, failed to answer his client’s requests for information about the appeal, and misled his client in relation to the appeal. Nejat sent the client an email while he was administratively suspended by the Law Society, without advising the client that he was suspended.

Citation authorized September 20, 2018, amended October 3, 2019

In the course of representing a client in a spousal sponsorship application to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, Nejat misappropriated or improperly withdrew funds; failed to deposit trust funds received by him into a pooled trust account as soon as practicable; failed to promptly record receipt of the trust funds within seven days; and failed to immediately deliver a bill or issue to the client a receipt for funds received. Nejat made statements to his client that he knew were false or misleading, failed to take steps on his client’s file, failed to advise his client that he was suspended from the practice of law and failed to advise his locum of the existence of his client’s file, and practised law while suspended

In the course of representing another client in a spousal sponsorship application to IRCC, Nejat failed to deposit his client’s retainer into a pooled trust account as soon as practicable, failed to promptly record in an account record funds received from his client, and failed to immediately deliver a bill or issue to the client a receipt for funds received. He also made false or misleading statements to his client, failed to take steps on his client’s file, failed to provide his client with complete and accurate information, failed to advise his client that he was suspended from the practice of law, and failed to advise his locum of the existence of his client’s file. He also took steps on his client’s file while suspended from the practice of law.

Citation authorized September 20, 2019

In relation to his client, Nejat engaged in activity that he ought to have known assisted in dishonesty, crime or fraud, by disbursing funds from his trust account without first taking reasonable steps to verify the identity of his client, and failed to obtain, record and verify client identification information. Nejat misappropriated or improperly withdrew some or all of the amount of $29,000, by withdrawing those funds from trust and using them, when he was not entitled to the funds

Nejat engaged in the practice of law while suspended and failed to provide his locum with complete and accurate information about the status of all of his client files.

In relation to another client, Nejat engaged in the practice of law while suspended, and made misrepresentations to the Law Society that he had not dealt with any client files on a particular day.

Citation authorized February 28, 2019

In relation to one client, Nejat misappropriated or improperly withdrew some or all of the amount of $135,106.38 in client trust funds. He provided falsified bills to the Law Society in relation to this client, and made a misrepresentation to the client.

In relation to a second client, Nejat misappropriated or improperly withdrew some or all of the amount of $125,000 in client trust funds.

Medical issues and other mitigating circumstances

Nejat provided the Law Society with medical reports that diagnosed Nejat with significant health issues that helped explain, but did not justify, his misconduct. The medical reports also outlined the steps Nejat had taken to address his health issues.

ADMISSION AND UNDERTAKING

Nejat admitted that his conduct constituted professional misconduct contrary to the Legal Professions Act. He voluntarily withdrew membership in the Law Society, and undertook for a period of 12 years from November 26, 2018:

  • not to engage in the practice of law in British Columbia with or without the expectation of a fee, gain or reward, whether direct or indirect, until such time as he may again become a member in good standing of the Law Society of British Columbia;
  • not to apply for re-admission to the Law Society or elsewhere in Canada;
  • not to apply for membership in any other law society (or like governing body regulating the practice of law) without first advising in writing the Law Society; and
  • not to permit his name to appear on the letterhead of, or otherwise work in any capacity whatsoever for, any lawyer or law firm in British Columbia, without obtaining the prior written consent of the Discipline Committee of the Law Society.

In making its decision, the Discipline Committee considered Nejat’s professional conduct record, which included a prior citation for similar misconduct, two administrative suspensions, and recommendations from the Practice Standards Committee.

 

Rule 4-29 Admission of Misconduct and Undertaking