Complaints, Lawyer Discipline and Public Hearings

Summary of Decision of the Hearing Panel


Douglas Bernard Chiasson

Squamish, BC

Called to the bar: May 18, 1990

Written materials: December 10, 2019

Panel: Tony Wilson, QC (Chair), Darlene Hammell and Lindsay R. LeBlanc

Decision issued: June 30, 2020 (2020 LSBC 32)

Counsel: Ilana Teicher for the Law Society; Douglas Bernard Chiasson appearing on his own behalf

FACTS

Douglas Bernard Chiasson is a sole practitioner who practises primarily in the areas of family law, residential real estate law, civil litigation, including motor vehicle plaintiff work, and wills and estates. In 2013, a client met with Chiasson to discuss a civil claim for sexual assault and instructed him to commence the claim. Chiasson advised the client that the claim should be brought in small claims court but did not advise the client on any possible attendant employment or human rights issues. This was the only sexual assault file he had ever taken on.

Between 2013 and 2018, Chiasson and the client corresponded about the case. The client continued to follow up with Chiasson with increasing frustration and urgency. Chiasson took no substantive steps on the client’s file and did not answer the client’s reasonable requests for information.

The client complained to the Law Society, which notified Chiasson about the complaint. Chiasson wrote a letter to the Law Society in which he agreed that the client communicated with him, he failed to respond to the client’s requests and he failed to engage and act on the client’s behalf. He sent a personal apology and returned the $1,130 retainer to the client.

ADMISSION AND DETERMINATION

Chiasson admitted his conduct constituted professional misconduct, and the hearing panel accepted his admission.

DISCIPLINARY ACTION

The panel considered the serious nature of the conduct, which involved a failure to advance the client’s file for a period of five years. As a result, the client suffered undue stress, confusion and frustration. The panel also considered his professional conduct record, which reveals similar issues around procrastination and quality of service.

The panel approved the proposed sanction agreed to by Chiasson and the Law Society and ordered that he pay:

  1. a fine of $10,000; and
  2. costs of $1,000.

 

2020 LSBC 32 Decision of the Hearing Panel