Complaints, Lawyer Discipline and Public Hearings

Decision of the hearing panel


Andrew James Liggett

New Westminster, BC

Called to the bar: May 17, 1991

Discipline hearing: November 27, 2019

Panel: Ralston S. Alexander, QC, chair, Jacqueline McQueen and Mark Rushton

Decision issued: March 3, 2020 (2020 LSBC 12)

Counsel: Sarah Conroy for the Law Society; Kieron Grady for Andrew James Liggett

Facts

In 2016, the Law Society conducted a compliance audit of Andrew James Liggett’s practice, which revealed 10 of 35 audited areas as being out of compliance. Despite clear direction from the Law Society, Liggett failed to make the required changes to his record keeping.

A further investigation revealed that, as well as his compliance issues with the trust and general accounting rules, Liggett had, to a significant extent, financed his practice with money belonging to Canada in the form of unremitted GST and employee payroll source deductions. At various times during January 2016 to September 2018, Liggett was indebted to Canada for unremitted GST of amounts up to $10,000. From February 2016 to February 2019, he was indebted to Canada on account of unremitted payroll source deductions of various amounts, at one point owing $139,600.

Admission and determination

The panel found that the problems encountered by Liggett began with two primary factors. First, Liggett did not have the necessary bookkeeping skill to operate his practice in a compliant manner, and attempts to resolve this deficiency with professional help were met with only intermittent success. Second, Liggett’s admirable focus on legal aid work rendered his practice largely uneconomic.

Liggett’s conduct was a marked departure from the conduct that the Law Society expects of lawyers. Liggett admitted, and the panel agreed, that his behaviour constituted professional misconduct.

Disciplinary action

The panel considered the gravity of the misconduct and Liggett’s professional conduct record. He had two previous findings of professional misconduct, a series of supervision engagements with the Practice Standards Committee and an administrative suspension, most of which dealt with circumstances that were substantially similar to this case.

Liggett acknowledged responsibility for the misconduct and cooperated throughout the disciplinary process.

The panel considered the proposed disciplinary action to be within the appropriate range of disciplinary action, albeit at the lower end of that range. The panel accepted the proposed action and ordered that Liggett:

  1. be suspended from the practice of law for one month;
  2. not operate a trust account in his practice except in accordance with the terms of a Trust Supervision Agreement approved by the Law Society; and
  3. pay costs, including disbursements, of $2,305.98

 

2020 LSBC 12 Decision of the Hearing Panel