Complaints, Lawyer Discipline and Public Hearings

Summary of Decision on Disciplinary Action


Crystal Irene Buchan

Victoria, BC

Called to the bar: May 15, 1992

Discipline hearing: April 24, 2018

Panel: Jennifer Chow, QC (chair); John Lane; Bruce LeRose, QC

Decision issued: February 13, 2020 (2020 LSBC 07)

Counsel: Tara McPhail for the Law Society; Peter Firestone for Crystal Irene Buchan

BACKGROUND

In May 2019, a hearing panel found that Crystal Irene Buchan had committed professional misconduct by failing to sign an appropriately drafted consent order promptly, failing to sign an appropriately drafted court order promptly and failing to answer communications from opposing counsel with reasonable promptness over a five-month period (2019 LSBC 18).

DISCIPLINARY ACTION

In determining the appropriate disciplinary action, the panel considered the serious nature of Buchan’ s misconduct. As a result of her delay and non-responsiveness, the parties could not resolve the matter for over a year and had to attend court again, causing unnecessary burden on judicial resources.

The panel also considered her 25 years of practice and her professional conduct record. She had multiple conduct reviews and a citation over a period of 10 years, and has displayed a pattern of delay and non-responsiveness and failure to respond to remedial and disciplinary attempts.

Buchan explained that her current predicament was not an extension of a pattern of delay or failures to respond. She said her inaction was because she was defending her client vigorously by not signing the court orders. The panel disagreed that vigorous representation of a client precluded her from signing the court orders or responding to communications. In the panel’ s view, an effective and efficient justice system and the protection of the public require lawyers to diligently sign and enter court orders.

The panel considered the range of sanctions in similar cases and the effect of a suspension on her firm and clients. The panel placed little weight on letters of reference from her spouse and colleagues.

The panel ordered that Buchan:

  1. be suspended from the practice of law for 45 days;
  2. be referred to the Practice Standards Committee and remain under its jurisdiction until released by that committee; and
  3. pay costs of $6,347.05.

 

2020 LSBC 07 Decision on Disciplinary Action

2019 LSBC 18 Decision on Facts and Determination