|For immediate release||May 17, 1999|
Law Society suspends Laxton
VANCOUVER - The Law Society of British Columbia announced today that it has accepted Vancouver lawyer John Noel Laxton’s admission of "conduct unbecoming a lawyer" and agreed that he be suspended from the practice of law for six weeks.
The suspension is in effect from July 1 to August 15, 1999. Mr. Laxton must also pay Law Society hearing costs of $2,500.00 as part of his penalty.
Mr. Laxton's admission occurred prior to a disciplinary citation hearing which was scheduled to take place from May 18-20, 1999 at the Law Society building in Vancouver. As a result of Mr. Laxton’s admission, the hearing is cancelled.
The report accepting Mr. Laxton's submission and penalty is attached.
Note to Editors:
The Law Society of British Columbia makes available the following documents related to discipline hearings:
For more information, contact:
 LSBC 30
THE LAW SOCIETY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA
IN THE MATTER OF: the LEGAL PROFESSION ACT, S.B.C. 1998, C.9
- and -
DECISION OF THE HEARING PANEL
|Hearing date[s]:||May 12, 1999|
||Emily Reid, Q.C., Chair
Russell Tretiak, Q.C.
for the Law Society:
|Christopher Hinkson, Q.C.
for the Respondent:
|William Berardino, Q.C.
|On September 25, 1998 a citation was issued against the respondent pursuant to the Legal Profession Act and Rule 4-15 of the Law Society Rules by the Executive Director of the Law Society of British Columbia pursuant to the direction of the Chair of the Discipline Committee. The citation directed that this Hearing Panel inquire into the Respondent’s conduct as follows:
|This a proceeding under Rule 4-22:
Because this Panel has the discretion to accept or reject the proposed disciplinary action, application was made by counsel for the Law Society to commence the proceedings in camera so that the respondent’s interests would not be prejudiced if this Panel chose to reject the proposal. Counsel for the respondent joined in on this application and the Panel made an order under Rule 5-6 to proceed in camera.
That order is now revoked and these proceedings are a matter of public record, as the Panel accepts the respondent’s proposed disciplinary action for the reasons which follow:
The Agreed Statement of Facts marked as Exhibit 1 in these proceedings sets out what occurred:
A copy of the 21 page transcript of the February 21, 1996 press meeting is found as Appendix B to Exhibit 1. At page 3 of the transcript Mr. Laxton said "I have not invested in any of these companies" and "I have not personally invested, only my daughters".
These statements are conceded by counsel for the respondent to be incorrect or inaccurate as Mr. Laxton was the controlling shareholder in Noel Developments Ltd. which did purchase through two corporations shares in IPC.
The respondent made these statements as the Chair of B.C. Hydro. We were told that at the time of their press meeting he had been asked to resign as Chair of B.C. Hydro and had agreed to do so. Further, that these statements were uttered in circumstances of high emotion and pressure.
The respondent took steps to correct the inaccurate comments in a statement which was published on March 1, 1996 (see Tab C). At page 4 he said:
It is conceded by Mr. Laxton that his incorrect statements to the press on February 21, 1996 constitute conduct unbecoming a member of the Law Society of British Columbia. We accept this. We were also provided four letters of reference, marked as Exhibits 2 to 5 in these proceedings.
The disciplinary action proposed is a six week suspension commencing July 1, 1999. Counsel for the Law Society has provided authorities where suspensions from one month to two months were imposed. The Panel agrees to the six week term. As to the timing of the suspension, we were told that Mr. Laxton has some cases in the Supreme Court that are set for continuation in June. Accordingly the Panel agrees that the period of suspension should commence on July 1, 1999, in order that the matters before the Courts can continue as scheduled so that the parties to the actions will not be prejudiced.
Counsel for Mr. Laxton asked us to defer publishing a notice until May 31, 1999. We reject that request and note that under Rule 4-37 the Executive Director of the Law Society must immediately publish the fact that a member has been suspended.
Accordingly, turning back to Rule 4-22(5):
Dated this 13th day of May, 1999
Signed by: Emily Reid, Q.C., Chair, Russell Tretiak, Q.C. and Peter Keighley