Admitted Discipline Violations

Summary of Decision of the Hearing Panel

John Aaron Hossack

Parksville, BC

Called to the bar: May 15, 1974

Written submissions: September 3, 2021

Panel: Thomas L. Spraggs, QC (chair), Monique Pongracic-Speier, QC and Paul Ruffell

Decision issued: December 16, 2021 (2021 LSBC 54)

Counsel: Alison Kirby for the Law Society; John Aaron Hossack appearing on his own behalf

FACTS

John Aaron Hossack drew a will for a long time client, in which she named Hossack as her executor and trustee. After the client died, Hossack did not apply to probate the will until more than two years later despite several inquiries by one of the beneficiaries of the will who eventually complained to the Law Society. The Law Society’s Practice Standards Committee ordered a review of Hossack’s practice, and the reviewer made several recommendations to promote timeliness in Hossack’s practice habits and address an issue with avoidance. Hossack submitted the required compliance reports and the practice standards file was closed.

When Hossack did apply for probate of the client’s will, the application was rejected due to deficiencies in the application materials. For more than a year, Hossack did not take any substantial steps to remedy the deficiencies. Over this period, one beneficiary contacted Hossack eight times and Hossack said the application was still in the probate registry and that he was taking other steps to administer the estate when he was not doing so. He did not disclose that the probate registry had rejected the application for probate.

Nearly four years after the death of the client, when Hossack filed additional affidavit evidence in response to the probate registry’s memo, the probate registry advised that he needed to apply for an order waiving the requirement for service of the probate application on the client’s potential intestate successors. For 14 months, Hossack did not take any substantive steps to do so.

Throughout, the beneficiary contacted Hossack periodically to ask about her inheritance. She made a second complaint to the Law Society almost five years after Hossack’s client death. Hossack retained another lawyer to assist him with the application for probate of the client’s will and probate was granted five years after the client’s death.

ADMISSION AND DETERMINATION

The panel found that Hossack failed to provide the quality of service expected of a competent lawyer. Hossack admitted, and the panel agreed, that his conduct amounted to professional misconduct.

DISCIPLINARY ACTION

The panel considered the persistence of problematic conduct after the practice review, discipline cases involving similar conduct, the harm caused to the beneficiary of the estate and his dishonesty in his dealings with the beneficiary. The panel considered mitigating factors, including his admission and that he did not benefit from his misconduct.

The panel accepted the disciplinary action jointly proposed by Hossack and the Law Society and ordered that Hossack:

  1. be suspended for one month; and
  2. pay costs of $3,792.79.

2021 LSBC 54 Decision of the Hearing Panel