Complaints, Lawyer Discipline and Public Hearings

Summary of Decision of the Hearing Panel


Michael Wilson Wayne Atmore

Vancouver, BC

Called to the bar: May 23, 2001

Written materials: September 16, 2019

Panel: Tony Wilson, QC, chair, Nan Bennett and Carol Roberts

Decision issued: January 30, 2020 (2020 LSBC 04)

Counsel: Angela R. Westmacott, QC for the Law Society; Andrea N. MacKay for Michael Wilson Wayne Atmore

FACTS

Michael Wilson Wayne Atmore authorized the withdrawal of client trust funds to pay fees or disbursements incurred on behalf of 21 clients without first preparing and immediately delivering an invoice to the clients. The amounts totaled $2,753.39. He did so to clear each trust balance in circumstances where he had performed additional work or incurred additional disbursements.

ADMISSION AND DETERMINATION

The panel accepted Atmore’s admission that, by authorizing the withdrawals, he engaged in professional misconduct.

DISCIPLINARY ACTION

In considering the disciplinary action, the panel made the distinction between improper withdrawal of trust funds and misappropriation. It found that Atmore was motivated by expediting administrative procedures and his actions did not constitute misappropriation. He was beneficially entitled to the funds that were withdrawn. He also accepted his responsibility for his breach of the rules.

Atmore proposed a fine of $2,500, costs of $1,000, a requirement to take the Law Society accounting course and to have the admissions on his professional conduct record.

The panel accepted Atmore’s proposed sanctions and ordered that he:

  1. pay a fine of $2,500;
  2. pay costs of $1,000; and
  3. take the Law Society accounting course.

2020 LSBC 04 Decision of the Hearing Panel