Complaints, Lawyer Discipline and Public Hearings

Decision of the hearing panel on facts and determination

Ahping Adena Lee

Richmond, BC

Called to the bar: August 28, 1992

Hearing dates: May 5 and 6, 2021

Decision issued: July 22, 2021 (2021 LSBC 31)

Panel: Jennifer Chow, QC (chair), Karen Kesteloo and Bruce LeRose, QC

Counsel: Michael D. Sherriff and Greg Cavouras for the Law Society; Mary Clare Baillie for Ahping Adena Lee

Facts

Ahping Adena Lee represented two individuals and a numbered company in an application to obtain payment out of funds held in court in a foreclosure proceeding. Lee filed an affidavit of service stating that she had effected proper service of her clients’ application on the parties. When she appeared in chambers, she advised the court that all parties had been properly served and obtained an order from the court that paid out the funds to her clients. In fact, the parties had not been properly served.

Lee submitted that she was mistaken about proper service. She acknowledged that her failure to turn her mind to whether or not responses had been filed in the proceeding was unacceptably below the standard of practice expected of a lawyer in that area, but denied intentionally misleading the court. The Law Society submitted that Lee had intentionally misled the court. There were no facts or circumstances that could reasonably ground an honestly held belief by Lee that she had effected proper service, and she must have known that the steps she took toward service were inadequate.

Further, Lee was charged in 2015 with failing to comply with a notice from the Canada Revenue Agency that required her to file an income tax return for the 2004 taxation year within 90 days. She pleaded guilty to the offence and was sentenced to the mandatory minimum fine of $1,000. Lee did not provide written notice to the Executive Director as soon as practicable after the laying of the charge, after the disposition of the charge or after the sentencing, as required under the Law Society Rules. She also did not immediately notify the Executive Director in writing of the circumstances of the sentencing order or her proposal for satisfying it, contrary to the Rules.

Lee also failed to immediately notify the Executive Director in writing of an unsatisfied monetary judgment entered against her, as required under the Rules.

Determination

The panel found Lee did not knowingly attempt to deceive the court in her clients’ application. Her testimony was consistent with the evidence, she admitted to serious shortcomings in her handling of the file, and she did not minimize the seriousness of her actions and omissions.

However, the panel did not need to find that Lee had intentionally misled the court to find that her conduct amounted to professional misconduct. Misleading the court is sufficient for such a finding, and the panel determined that Lee committed professional misconduct.

The panel also considered Lee’s admissions that she failed to report two income tax-related matters to the Law Society. The panel noted that the financial reporting requirements are an important part of the Law Society’s mandate to protect the public interest, and concluded that Lee’s conduct in the way she handled her tax issues was a breach of the Rules.

 

2021 LSBC 31 Decision on Facts and Determination