Complaints, Lawyer Discipline and Public Hearings

Summary of Decision of the Hearing Panel

JASON BAWA MANN

Vancouver, BC

Called to the bar: April 28, 2004

Discipline hearing: October 8, 2015

Panel: Sharon Matthews, QC, Chair, Laura Nashman and John Waddell, QC

Decision issued: November 6, 2015 (2015 LSBC 48)

Counsel: Carolyn Gulabsingh for the Law Society; Henry Wood, QC for Jason Bawa Mann

FACTS

In October 2011, Jason Bawa Mann received $4,000 in cash as a retainer from a client. Mann provided the client with a receipt but did not keep a duplicate receipt for his records. Mann has no recollection of what he did with the cash retainer. He explained that it was not uncommon for him to have large amounts of cash in his possession at that time.

The client trust ledger did not reflect any deposit for the cash retainer. In December 2013, Mann emailed the client in response to her request for a statement of account, and he confirmed he held $4,000 in trust on her behalf. In fact, he only held $52.85 in trust at the time.

Mann’ s practice was the subject of a Law Society compliance audit in September 2013. The auditor asked him about the trust balance of $52.85 he held on his client’ s behalf. Mann responded that there was unbilled work on the client’ s file, but he did not realize that the cash retainer was not reflected in the trust balance. In April 2014, the client complained to the Law Society about the quality of service and expressed concern about her trust funds.

Subsequent to the receipt of the cash retainer and throughout the Law Society investigation, Mann acknowledged that he had received the cash retainer and advised the Law Society, and the client’ s trust ledger included the cash retainer. Mann provided a copy of his client trust ledger to the Law Society in July 2014, and it was then that he discovered that the cash retainer was never deposited. He did not report the trust shortage to the Executive Director, as required under the accounting rules, until approximately three weeks later. In August 2014, he deposited $4,000 into trust to eliminate the shortage, and he returned the full balance of $4,052.85 to his client the following month.

ADMISSION AND DISCIPLINARY ACTION

Mann admitted he committed professional misconduct in his failure to deposit his client’ s cash retainer into trust, to properly record the trust transaction, to keep a copy of the receipt of the cash retainer, to immediately repay the trust shortage once discovered, and to immediately report the trust shortage to the Executive Director of the Law Society.

The panel accepted his admission and ordered him to pay:

  1. a fine of $4,000
  2. $4,672.50 in costs

2015 LSBC 48 Decision of the Hearing Panel