Complaints, Lawyer Discipline and Public Hearings

Summary of Rule 4-29 Admission of Misconduct and Undertaking to the Discipline Committee

Rosario Cateno Di Bella

Victoria, BC

Called to the bar: September 10, 1980

Suspended: February 19, 2021

Custodian appointed: April 30, 2021

Undertaking and admission accepted: January 27, 2022

FACTS

Rosario Cateno Di Bella admitted that, in the course of representing a client in an estate matter, he failed to ensure that court-ordered monthly reports were forwarded to opposing parties, failed to ensure that a court order was settled in a timely manner, failed to apply for probate of the estate in a timely manner and failed to respond to client communications and communications from other lawyers over the course of several months.

Di Bella also admitted that, in the course of acting for another client, he failed to ensure tax returns for the estates and spousal trust were prepared and filed in a timely manner, failed to keep his client or beneficiaries reasonably informed about the status of his administration of the trusts and estates, failed to prepare and deliver accounts to the beneficiaries, and did not respond substantively to communications from his client or the beneficiaries over the course of more than a year.

In addition, with respect to another citation, a hearing panel determined that Di Bella committed professional misconduct when he did not respond to the Law Society substantively in the course its investigation of a complaint file.

ADMISSION AND UNDERTAKING

Di Bella admitted that he failed to provide the quality of service required of a competent lawyer and his conduct constituted professional misconduct.

Di Bella provided an undertaking to the Discipline Committee that, for a period of five years, he will:

  • not apply for reinstatement to the Law Society;
  • not apply for membership in any other law society (or like governing body regulating the practice of law) without first advising in writing the Law Society;
  • not engage in the practice of law in British Columbia with or without the expectation of a fee, gain or reward, whether direct or indirect, until such time as he may again become a member in good standing of the Law Society of British Columbia; and
  • not permit his name to appear on the letterhead of, or otherwise work in any capacity whatsoever for, any lawyer or law firm in British Columbia without obtaining the prior written consent of the Discipline Committee of the Law Society.

In deciding to accept the proposal, the Discipline Committee considered a hearing decision on facts and determination (2021 LSBC 52), a notice to admit, and a letter to the Chair of the Discipline Committee in which Di Bella admitted to the misconduct and the facts contained in the notice to admit. The committee also considered his professional conduct record, which included two previous citation decisions, the Law Society’s custodianship of his practice, a conduct review, limitation on practice and administrative suspensions.

Rule 4-29 Admission of Misconduct and Undertaking to the Discipline Committee