Complaints, Lawyer Discipline and Public Hearings

Summary of a decision of the president on application for an extension of time to initiate a review


Donald Frankly Gurney

Called to the Bar: May 15, 1968

Retired membership: January 1, 2018

Written materials: June 29 and July 2, 2020

President: Craig Ferris, QC

Decision issued: July 10, 2020 (2020 LSBC 35)

Counsel: J. Kenneth McEwan, QC for the Law Society; Donald Franklin Gurney appearing on his own behalf

BACKGROUND

A hearing panel concluded that Donald Franklin Gurney had committed professional misconduct by using his trust account to receive and disburse almost 26 million dollars on behalf of a client without making reasonable inquiries about the circumstances of the transaction (2017 LSBC 15). Gurney was ordered to be suspended for six months, pay $25,845 as disgorgement of the legal fees that he had received, and comply with certain trust accounting conditions upon his return to practice (2017 LSBC 32). Gurney filed an application for a review of the findings of facts and determination and disciplinary action, and the Law Society subsequently applied for an order that a review be dismissed on the basis that no steps had been taken to proceed with the review for more than six months. The Law Society’s application to dismiss the review was granted (2019 LSBC 23).

APPLICATION FOR AN EXTENSION OF TIME TO INITIATE A REVIEW

The Law Society has applied for an extension of time to initiate a review of an order made by the hearing panel to seal certain materials so they were not publicly available (2017 LSBC 15). The Law Society submits that it is in the interests of justice in that the review will maintain the values of openness and transparency, build confidence in the disciplinary process, be successful and will not prejudice any party. Gurney submits that the application be adjourned so the Law Society can give him the particulars of the order it wishes to propose.

The president granted the application to extend the time to initiate a review of the order. He noted an application to extend the time for a review after three and a half years is extraordinary, and it would not have been granted other than in a situation where the issue is of great significance and where there is an absence of prejudice. Given the delay to date, the president stated the matter must be resolved expeditiously and ordered timeframes for proceeding with the review.

2020 LSBC 35 Decision of the President on an Application for an Extention of Time to Initiate a Review