Complaints, Lawyer Discipline and Public Hearings

Summary of Decision of the Hearing Panel


Glenn Arthur Laughlin

Glenn Arthur Laughlin

Port Coquitlam, BC

Called to the bar: May 17, 1996

Hearing date: July 23, 2019

Panel: Elizabeth Rowbotham, chair; Lindsay LeBlanc; Mark Rushton

Decision issued: December 4, 2019 (2019 LSBC 42)

Counsel: J. Kenneth McEwan, QC, and Samantha Chang for the Law Society; Henry C. Wood, QC, for Glenn Arthur Laughlin

FACTS

Glenn Arthur Laughlin was corporate counsel for a company whose initial shareholders were WD and RE. After a restructuring, shares were issued to a company owned by WD and KS, and to another company owned by RE and ME.

In addition to continuing as corporate counsel for the company, Laughlin prepared wills for RE and ME, acted for RE and ME in their purchase of a new home, and acted for WD in the sale of WD’s and KS’s home.

WD and KS separated and commenced divorce proceedings. WD had substance abuse issues. As corporate counsel for the company, Laughlin had regular conversations with RE and ME, and while acting for WD in divorce proceedings, he also exchanged emails with KS. In these communications Laughlin discussed WD’s addiction issues.

Laughlin met with WD and discussed proposed rehabilitation treatment. At Laughlin’s suggestion, WD executed a Power of Attorney, appointing Laughlin as his attorney to make decisions in relation to his financial affairs.

Laughlin discussed the possibility of RE and ME buying WD’s shares in the company to pay for rehabilitation treatment. RE and ME agreed to advance $25,000 for WD to attend a treatment program and to treat the funds as an advance toward the purchase of WD’s shares.

Laughlin drafted share sale agreements. In October 2014 WD expressed dissatisfaction with the arrangement, and Laughlin took no further steps to obtain a share sale as it had been proposed to that point. Ultimately the company advanced $25,000 for WD to attend a rehabilitation program.

In April 2016 following a hearing for the division of family assets, KS was awarded half of WD’s shares in the company and related companies.

In July 2016 ME forwarded Laughlin a portion of an email from WD in which WD proposed selling his shares to RE and ME for $220,000. Laughlin did not advise any of the shareholders to obtain independent legal advice.

In June 2017 ME advised that ME and RE had no interest in buying WD’s shares, but that the company would redeem his shares.

In August 2017 Laughlin advised ME that he was in a conflict of interest because he had represented WD in the divorce. After meeting with the Law Society for an investigative interview, Laughlin advised KS and WD that he could no longer be involved in the share sale discussions.

The parties ultimately reached an agreement in respect of the sale of shares. ME requested that Laughlin prepare the necessary documents for the transfer of the shares, and WD and KS agreed. This was the only occasion on which WD provided his express consent to Laughlin acting on the company’s behalf in respect of the 2016 proposed sale of WD’s shares.

DETERMINATION

Laughlin admitted, and the hearing panel agreed, that his conduct constituted professional misconduct.

The panel considered that Laughlin did not act out of malice and did not personally gain from his conduct. He was trying to help WD through a difficult time, but in doing so, he placed himself in a conflict of interest.

DISCIPLINARY ACTION

The panel ordered that Laughlin pay:

  1. a fine of $5,000; and
  2. costs of $2,000.

2019 LSBC 42 Decision of the Hearing Panel