Complaints, Lawyer Discipline and Public Hearings

Summary of Decision on Facts, Determination and Disciplinary Action

SUMIT AHUJA

Vancouver, BC

Called to the bar: April 25, 2011

Discipline hearing: May 31, 2017

Panel: Craig Ferris, QC, Chair, Ralston Alexander, QC and Don Amos

Decision issued: July 6, 2017 (2017 LSBC 26)

Counsel: Mark Bussanich for the Law Society; Henry Wood, QC for Sumit Ahuja

FACTS AND DETERMINATION

The night before Sumit Ahuja planned to travel to Kelowna to attend a hearing, he attended a firm event and was out later than expected. He slept through his alarm and missed his flight to Kelowna to attend the hearing. That morning, he spoke to his assistant and asked her to send a memo to the court in Kelowna advising he had missed his flight due to overbooking. He called his client and provided a similar explanation. He was permitted to attend the hearing by telephone and the matter was adjourned to later that week.

A day after the incident, he admitted his misrepresentation to his firm’s partners. He also sent letters of apology to the court and to the client and self-reported the events to the Law Society.

A hearing panel found that Ahuja committed professional misconduct by misleading the court and his client about his reason for being unable to attend a hearing.

DISCIPLINARY ACTION

The panel considered similar past cases and Ahuja’s professional conduct record. At the hearing, Ahuja testified that, when he applied for admission to the Law Society, he admitted he provided a false name to a police officer while driving under suspension. As a pre-admission requirement, he provided a letter to the Credentials Committee addressing the importance of truthfulness and candour for lawyers. The panel was troubled by the recurring nature of the misleading behaviour and determined a suspension was necessary.

The panel ordered that Ahuja:

  1. be suspended for one month; and
  2. pay costs of $3,500.

2017 LSBC 26 Decision on Facts, Determination and Disciplinary Action