Complaints, Lawyer Discipline and Public Hearings

Summary of Decision on Disciplinary Action

Rosario Cateno Di Bella

Victoria, BC

Called to the bar: September 10, 1980

Suspended: February 19, 2021

Custodian appointed: April 30, 2021

Hearing date: September 20, 2021

Panel: Steven McKoen, QC, Chair, Catherine W. Chow and Laura Nashman

Decision issued: December 10, 2021 (2021 LSBC 50)

Counsel:   Barbara Lohmann for the Law Society; Richard Margretts, QC for Rosario Cateno Di Bella

BACKGROUND

A hearing panel found that Di Bella committed professional misconduct by failing to deliver the quality of service expected of a competent lawyer when he did not attend to matters within a reasonable period of time, did not keep the client reasonably informed, failed to meet deadlines set out in a court order, and did not answer requests for information from the client. In dealing with the same client, Di Bella also misrepresented that he ordered a wills search, failed to answer communications promptly on numerous occasions, and failed to facilitate transfer of the client’ s matter to another lawyer (2021 LSBC 27).

DISCIPLINARY ACTION

The panel considered the serious nature of Di Bella’ s misconduct, his repetitive, prolonged and unexplained delays, as well as his professional conduct record, which included a conduct review, a practice standards referral, a practice limitation, a previous citation and three administrative suspensions, two of which were in effect at the time of the decision. The panel found no evidence of remedial conduct by Di Bella.

The Law Society sought an order prohibiting Di Bella from practising in the area of wills and estates until relieved of this condition by the Discipline Committee. The panel disagreed that a practice condition is appropriate in these circumstances as Di Bella’ s practice mainly consisted of wills and estate matters and a practice condition would amount to a de facto disbarment.

The panel ordered Di Bella:

  1. be suspended for four months, and
  2. pay costs of $9,991.17.

 

2021 LSBC 50 Decision on Disciplinary Action