Complaints, Lawyer Discipline and Public Hearings

Summary of Decision of the Hearing Panel on Facts and Determination

Michael Murph Ranspot

West Vancouver, BC

Called to the bar: August 1, 1985

Hearing date: April 12, 2021

Panel: Jamie Maclaren, QC (chair), Lindsay R. LeBlanc and Lance Ollenberger

Decision issued: June 7, 2021 (2021 LSBC 24)

Counsel: Kieron G. Grady for the Law Society; Patrick F. Lewis for Michael Murph Ranspot

FACTS

Michael Murph Ranspot was retained by a client for a family law proceeding against her common law husband. Ranspot and the client had a solicitor-client relationship for approximately six months, and then the client retained another lawyer to represent her. Ranspot continued to provide assistance to the client’s new counsel and incurred disbursements on her behalf.

Approximately two years later, Ranspot acted for the client again at a costs hearing and filed notices naming himself as counsel for the client. He admitted he was in a solicitor-client relationship with the client at that time, though he did not charge fees for the legal services he provided.

Ranspot was in a personal relationship with the client for approximately 13 months when he first loaned her money. Ranspot billed the client $14,304.04 for disbursements incurred in the family law proceeding, for the payment of monthly bills for her internet usage and for cash he lent to her for living expenses. The client gave him a cheque in the amount of $7,152.02. He then provided her with a statement of disbursements relating to the appeal of the family law proceeding. He never advised her to seek independent legal advice relating to the money she borrowed from him.

Ranspot and the client engaged in a physical altercation, and he was charged with one count of assault causing bodily harm to her. He pleaded guilty. The sentencing hearing included an agreed statement of facts, which stated Ranspot’s use of force exceeded what was reasonable in the circumstances and caused injury to the client.

The sentencing judge granted a conditional discharge, imposed a 16-month probation order, which included a mandatory five-year weapons prohibition order and a DNA order, and imposed a victim fine surcharge. Ranspot complied with all the orders of the court. He voluntarily participated in counselling and group sessions through the Lawyers Assistance Program.

DETERMINATION

Ranspot admitted his conduct constituted conduct unbecoming a lawyer and professional misconduct. The panel accepted his admissions and determined that his criminal conduct amounted to conduct unbecoming a lawyer. By being in a conflict of interest when he represented the client in the family law proceeding and by loaning money to her without counselling her to seek independent legal advice, Ranspot committed professional misconduct.

2021 LSBC 24 Decision on Facts and Determination