Complaints, Lawyer Discipline and Public Hearings

Summary of Credentials Decision

Houtan Sanandaji

Hearing (application for enrolment): March 7 and 8, 2017

Panel: Sharon Matthews, QC, Chair, John Hogg, QC and John Lane

Order made: March 8, 2017

Decision issued: June 8, 2017 (2017 LSBC 20)

Counsel: Gerald Cuttler for the Law Society; Craig Jones, QC for Houtan Sanandaji

BACKGROUND

In his application for enrolment in the Admission Program, Houtan Sanandaji disclosed several past criminal charges. A credentials hearing panel considered the charges and whether Sanandaji’s application was accurate and complete.

On or about November 8, 2008, Sanandaji was charged under section 254(5) of the Criminal Code (failure or refusal to provide a breath sample), section 161 of the Motor Vehicle Act (driving in the wrong direction) and section 144(1)(b) of the Motor Vehicle Act (driving without reasonable consideration).

Sanandaji was given a ticket for excessive speeding in 2011.

In 2015 Sanandaji was charged under section 266 of the Criminal Code (assault).

Describing the 2008 driving incident in his application, Sanandaji said that he had not been drinking and did not refuse to provide a breath sample. He did not disclose that, in the same incident he was charged with driving in the wrong direction and driving without reasonable consideration. A copy of the charges obtained by the Law Society confirmed that he was charged with failure to provide a sample, and also that he was found “guilty of the lesser included offence” of driving in the wrong direction, although neither driving in the wrong direction nor driving without reasonable consideration is lesser included offences of refusing to provide a breath sample. After thorough cross-examination of Sanandaji, the hearing panel accepted that Sanandaji was not impaired and did not refuse to provide a sample.

Regarding the excessive speeding ticket in 2011, counsel for the Law Society said he placed no emphasis on this incident and noted that Sanandaji had a clean driving record since then. Neither the excessive speeding charge nor a 2007 speeding charge were asserted as amounting to evidence of problems with character, repute or fitness.

In his application, Sanandaji disclosed the assault charge. The Law Society did not take issue with his description of the altercation, but rather with his description of the outcome and the disposition of it. In his application, he left the impression that the charges were stayed due to lack of merit. In fact they were stayed as part of an alternative measures plan, according to which he would complete 16 hours of community service and apologize and provide restitution to the bar manager who was involved in the altercation. Alternate measures are only recommended if Crown Counsel is satisfied that there is a substantial likelihood of conviction.

The panel was satisfied that Sanandaji was not aware of this Crown Counsel policy, that, at the time of his application, he viewed the provisions of the alternative measures plan as steps to achieve the stay, and that he believed the correct description of the disposition was that it had been stayed. The panel was satisfied that the incident was not part of a pattern of behaviour and did not amount to a problem with character, repute or fitness.

DECISION

The panel found that Sanandaji was of good character and repute and fit to be enrolled into the Law Society Admission Program and, in due course, to become a barrister and a solicitor of the Supreme Court. He was allowed to commence his articles.

2017 LSBC 20 Decision on Application for Enrolment