Law Society Rule 2-69.1 provides for the publication of summaries of credentials hearing panel decisions on applications for enrolment in articles, call and admission and reinstatement.
For the full text of hearing panel decisions, visit the Regulation & Insurance/Regulatory Hearings section of the Law Society website.
RANDEEP SINGH SARAI
Called to the bar: May 22, 2002
Ceased membership: January 1, 2006
Hearing (application for reinstatement): August 25, 2010
Panel: Kathryn Berge, QC, Chair, Stacy Kuiack and Herman Van Ommen
Report issued: December 16, 2010 (2010 LSBC 26)
Counsel: Jason Twa for the Law Society and Randeep Singh Sarai appearing on his own behalf
In May 2002, directly after his call to the bar, Randeep Singh Sarai joined a lawyer in partnership and was primarily responsible for the real estate component of their practice.
The law firm ceased its business operations as a partnership in April 2003. Sarai’s partner did not contribute to the accumulated losses and debts of the firm. Sarai took full responsibility for the debts of the firm and ensured that there were no unpaid creditors.
Between 2002 and 2005, Sarai breached multiple undertakings on real estate files and allowed multiple other errors to be made in trust accounting and the general handling of his practice. In a decision issued on May 9, 2005 (2005 LSBC 17), he was found to have committed professional misconduct and was suspended for one year.
Pending the 2005 disciplinary hearing, Sarai was allowed to continue practising subject to having a practice supervisor oversee his work. Contrary to the terms of this agreement, he failed to provide files to his practice supervisor.
Sarai allowed his membership in the Law Society to lapse at the end of 2005, and has now applied for reinstatement. He currently works in the private sector and instructs counsel on matters including foreclosures and various insolvency and restructuring applications. He has observed first-hand the standards to which proper counsel adhere, which has enabled him to gain a better understanding of competent real estate and general legal practice.
Part of Sarai’s justification for the lack of attention to his files early in his practice was his father’s health crisis and subsequent death. Also, as a new lawyer, he had received no training in real estate conveyancing or the proper use of a trust account.
Sarai readily admitted that, at the time of his 2005 suspension, he was not fit to be a barrister and a solicitor of the Supreme Court as he did not have the skills, training and maturity to meet the standards of practice. The panel accepted that the complete failure of his real estate practice resulted from his engagement in a type of practice for which he was unsuited and untrained. It did not arise from an inability or unwillingness to perform to the standards expected of lawyers.
A matter of particular concern to the panel was that he continued to breach undertakings and mishandle files while he was under practice supervision. Sarai testified that he did not receive instruction or supervision on the proper reorganization and administration of his practice so as to prevent the errors being made in the first place.
The panel reviewed letters of reference submitted in support of his character and repute. His community volunteer work remains significant; however, in the years since his suspension, he has reduced his volunteer commitments to devote himself to his growing family and to his career.
After reviewing the evidence, the panel found Sarai to be credible, honest in his dealings with others, including clients and third parties, and possessing a good reputation in the community. The panel was satisfied that, as a result of added maturity and the experience in his new job with able solicitors, he could now perform to the standards required of all lawyers and not repeat his past failings.
The panel found that Sarai had met the burden of proof of establishing his good character, repute and his fitness to be a barrister and a solicitor of the Supreme Court. The panel ordered that Sarai be reinstated on the condition that he:
- pass Law Society requalification exams and complete practice management courses;
- only practise in a firm of four or more lawyers or otherwise in a practice situation approved by the Law Society;
- not engage in practice involving mortgages, conveyancing, subdivision and other work of a similar nature until the Law Society is satisfied that he has obtained the proper training and knowledge to do so; and
- pay $2,900 in costs.