Complaints, Lawyer Discipline and Public Hearings

Summary of Decision of the Hearing Panel on an Application to set aside a Decision

Michael Murph Ranspot

West Vancouver, BC

Called to the bar: August 1, 1985

Hearing date: January 13, 2020

Panel: Michelle D. Stanford, QC (Chair), Thelma Siglos and Sandra Weafer

Decision issued: September 24, 2020 (2020 LSBC 46)

Counsel: Kieron Grady for the Law Society, Patrick Lewis for Michael Murph Ranspot

BACKGROUND

Michael Murph Ranspot pleaded guilty to assault causing bodily harm on a client in December 2015. He was also in a personal romantic relationship with the client while representing her, and he loaned the client money without ensuring she had independent legal advice. A hearing panel found his conduct constituted conduct unbecoming a lawyer and professional misconduct (2019 LSBC 17). Neither Ranspot nor his former counsel appeared on his behalf at the hearing. The panel was satisfied based on evidence that he had been served with notice of the hearing.

Ranspot applied to set aside the decision. In his application, he said he had been working with his former counsel to resolve the citation without an oral hearing. He said he was never informed of the hearing date, was not aware his former counsel participated in a pre-hearing conference, and his former counsel would not respond to his emails or update him for long periods of time. Ranspot said he would have attempted to prevent a full hearing, and if a hearing was required, he would have prepared and attended in person with his former counsel. His former counsel submitted a witness statement and took full responsibility for his and Ranspot’s non-attendance at the hearing.

DECISION ON APPLICATION TO SET ASIDE A DECISION

The panel accepted Ranspot’s submissions that his former counsel acted contrary to his instructions in scheduling a hearing, he was unaware the hearing was scheduled and his lack of knowledge was due to the failure of his former counsel to advise him.

The panel determined that a clear breach of natural justice occurred due to Ranspot’s former counsel’s actions and through no fault of his own. The panel ordered the previous decision on facts and determination be set aside and a new hearing be held before a new panel.

2020 LSBC 46 Decision on an Application to Set Aside a Decision