|For immediate release||January 29, 2014|
Law Society suspends lawyer Douglas Edward Dent for improperly withdrawing trust funds to pay fees and disbursements [updated February 6, 2015]
Vancouver – The Law Society has suspended 100 Mile House lawyer Douglas Edward Dent for professional misconduct [On February 7, 2014 a stay of suspension was granted pending a review sought by Dent. On February 5, 2015 a review board set aside Dent's suspension and ordered that he pay a fine of $5,000, plus hearing costs].
Before a hearing panel last October, Dent admitted to using $2,000 he was holding in trust to recover legal fees and disbursements from his client. The money was supposed to be forwarded to his client’s spouse in equalization payments under the terms of a separation agreement. The panel found that Dent put his own interests ahead of his client’s by withdrawing the funds from the trust account without consent in order to be compensated for his work.
In addition to transferring the money from the trust account, Dent also requested an additional $2,000 from his client to settle what was owed to the spouse in equalization payments.
Dent said he acted on the mistaken, but honest, belief that he had received oral consent from his client. Nonetheless, Dent admitted he violated the Law Society Rules and his actions constituted professional misconduct.
In its decision, the panel said, “We must have due regard for the public interest and the need to ensure the public’s confidence in the integrity of the profession generally.”
Dent’s 45-day suspension is scheduled to begin February 10, 2014. He is also required to pay costs in the amount of $4,720.
The Law Society of British Columbia regulates the more than 11,000 practising lawyers in the province, setting and enforcing standards of professional conduct that ensure the public is well-served by a competent, honourable legal profession.
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