Citation issued: february 11, 2015

thomas paul harding 

Citations are authorized by the Law Society of BC's Discipline Committee and list allegations against a lawyer that will be considered at a discipline hearing. Please note that allegations in a citation are unproven until a discipline hearing panel has determined their validity.

Nature of conduct to be inquired into:

1. Between January 2012 and September 2013, in the course of representing your client, NT, in a family law matter, you failed to serve your client in a conscientious, diligent and efficient manner so as to provide a quality of service at least equal to that which would be expected of a competent lawyer in a similar situation, contrary to Chapter 3, Rules 3 and 5 of the Professional Conduct Handbook then in force and Rules 3.2-1 and 3.2-2 of the Code of Professional Conduct for British Columbia. In particular, you did some or all of the following:

(a) failed to provide your client with a copy of the draft final order that opposing counsel provided to you on January 27, 2012 or otherwise notify her of all of the terms proposed;

(b) consented to the draft final order when you ought to have known that your client did not consent to all of its terms, resulting in the entry of the final order on March 23, 2012;

(c) failed to provide your client with correspondence dated August 1, 2012 from opposing counsel or inform your client of the contents of the correspondence, and in particular that your client was expected to comply with the final order;

(d) failed to respond substantively or at all to correspondence from your client dated August 3, 2012;

(e) failed to remind your client that a costs order made on November 13, 2012 against her was outstanding when you wrote to her about the closure of your file in July 2013;

(f) between July and October 2013, failed to inform your client or keep her apprised in a timely way about costs settlement negotiations you engaged in on her behalf; and

(g) failed to inform your client in a timely way about a Registrar’s hearing regarding costs scheduled for September 18, 2013.

This conduct constitutes professional misconduct, pursuant to section 38(4) of the Legal Profession Act.

2. After you were notified by your client, NT, in April 2012 that she did not consent to all of the terms of a consent order entered March 23, 2012 that you approved on her behalf prior to its submission for entry, you failed to do one or both of the following:

(a) give written notice to the Lawyers Insurance Fund immediately or before November 13, 2012, as required by section 4.1 of the BC Lawyers’ Compulsory Professional Liability Insurance Policy, of an error or circumstance which could reasonably be expected to be the basis of a claim against you, contrary to Chapter 4, Rule 5 of the Professional Conduct Handbook then in force and Rule 3-21(2) of the Law Society Rules; and

(b) recommend to your client that she obtain independent legal advice when you knew or had a reasonable apprehension that an error or omission had been made for which you were or may have been responsible and which was or may be damaging to your client, contrary to Chapter 4, Rule 5.1 of the Professional Conduct Handbook then in force.

This conduct constitutes professional misconduct or a breach of the Act or rules, pursuant to section 38(4) of the Legal Profession Act.

3. You failed to provide your client, NT, with reasonable notice of your withdrawal in September 2013 as her lawyer, contrary to Rule 3.7-1 of the Code of Professional Conduct for British Columbia.

This conduct constitutes professional misconduct, pursuant to section 38(4) of the Legal Profession Act.

4. Between approximately November 2012 and December 2014, you failed to honour a commitment you made to your client, NT, to pay all of the costs ordered against her on November 13, 2012 and your failure to do so constitutes one or both of the following:

(a) dishonourable or questionable conduct contrary to Chapter 2, Rule 1 of the Professional Conduct Handbook then in force and Rule 2.2-1 of the Code of Professional Conduct for British Columbia; or

(b) failure to meet a financial obligation in relation to your practice, contrary to Rules 7.1-2, 7.8-4 or 7.8-5 of the Code of Professional Conduct for British Columbia.

This conduct constitutes professional misconduct, pursuant to section 38(4) of the Legal Profession Act.

5. You failed to recommend to your client, NT, that she obtain independent legal advice in respect of costs ordered against her on November 13, 2012, when you knew or had a reasonable apprehension that an error or omission had been made for which you were or may have been responsible and which was or may be damaging to your client, contrary to Chapter 4, Rule 5.1 of the Professional Conduct Handbook then in force.

This conduct constitutes professional misconduct, pursuant to section 38(4) of the Legal Profession Act.