Complaints, Lawyer Discipline and Public Hearings

Summary of Decision on Disciplinary Action


Mark William Sager

West Vancouver, BC

Called to the bar: March 15, 1991

Discipline hearing: February 26, 2020

Panel: Nancy Merrill, QC (chair), Donald Amos and David Layton, QC

Decision issued: June 9, 2020 (2020 LSBC 28)

Counsel: Kieron Grady for the Law Society; Henry C. Wood, QC for Mark William Sager

BACKGROUND

In July 2019, a hearing panel found that Mark William Sager had committed professional misconduct by causing his associate to prepare a will for a client under which he was a beneficiary and receiving a gift of $75,000 when he was in a solicitor-client relationship with that client, who had not received independent legal advice (2019 LSBC 22).

DISCIPLINARY ACTION

In determining the appropriate disciplinary action, the panel considered the serious nature of Sager’ s conduct. While he recognized the conflict in drafting a will in which a client bequeathed a testamentary gift to him, delegating the drafting of the will to his junior associate who reported to him did not solve the conflict. Sager had a very close familial relationship with the elderly client, who was vulnerable and had become very dependent on him. While the panel did not find evidence of intent to manipulate or exercise undue influence, the breaches were nonetheless serious and created a risk of harm to his client’ s interests.

The panel considered Sager’ s extensive experience of 22 years in practice, his lack of professional conduct record, and the large volume and content of character references provided. While he acknowledged at the facts and determination phase that he breached the BC Code of Professional Conduct, he did not acknowledge that the breaches constituted professional misconduct. The panel also considered the range of sanctions in similar cases.

The panel ordered that Sager:

  1. pay a fine of $20,000; and
  2. pay costs of $20,225.69.

2020 LSBC 28 Decision on Disciplinary Action