Credentials hearings

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. If a panel rejects an application, the published summary does not identify the applicant without his or her consent.

For the full text of hearing panel decisions, visit the Regulation & Insurance / Regulatory Hearings section of the Law Society website.

Inderbir Singh Buttar

Surrey, BC
Hearing (application for call and admission): October 28, 29 2008 and January 6, 2009
Panel: Terence La Liberté, QC, Chair, Leon Getz, QC and David Mossop, QC
Report issued: May 13, 2009 (2009 LSBC 14)
Counsel: Jason Twa for the Law Society and Craig Dennis and Anu Sandhu for Inderbir Buttar

Inderbir Singh Buttar completed a combined arts and law degree in India and was called to the bar in 2003. He practised law for six months in India then moved to Canada. Following two years of study at the University of Windsor required by the National Committee on Accreditation, in June 2006 Buttar received a national certificate of qualification allowing him to article in any common law jurisdiction in Canada.

Buttar completed his articles on May 4, 2007 at a small BC firm and finished PLTC in July 2008. Testimony and written evaluations from Buttar’s principal and his associate indicated that he demonstrated little better than a marginally acceptable level of skill even by the end of his articles. Buttar’s principal signed a form setting out the activities that he performed during his articles and confirming that he was competent to be admitted to the bar. She never submitted the form. In July 2007 the principal sent a letter to the Law Society that stated that, while he met the competency test for call and admission, he did not meet the ethics, good character and fitness test.

The panel also heard testimony from the principal outlining a romantic relationship between Buttar and a co-worker that arose during his articles. The principal expressed concern that Buttar had taken advantage of his co-worker when she was emotionally vulnerable and failed to be honest and forthright with his principal about the relationship. The principal also noted an incident when a pornographic movie was briefly displayed on his computer at work.

The panel noted that Buttar’s principal had signed a form confirming that he was competent to be admitted to the bar and did not change this assessment, although she later described his performance as borderline. They also found that the display of pornographic material was unintentional and should not be considered an issue of good character and repute.

The panel also did not find any evidence that the relationship between Buttar and his co-worker was influenced by imposition, exploitation, harassment or abuse. While the panel underscored the importance of articled students being honest and forthright in dealings with their principals, they noted that Buttar’s deception was motivated by a desire to protect his personal privacy and did not involve client files.

The panel found that Buttar is a person of good character and repute and fit to become a barrister and solicitor of the Supreme Court and granted his application for call and admission, but imposed certain conditions on his right to practise law. In setting these conditions, the panel considered the fact that Buttar’s principal felt he barely met the level of skill reasonably expected of someone who has completed articles and he encountered some difficulty completing PLTC. The panel ordered that Buttar:

1. successfully complete the Small Firm Practice Course before being permitted to practise law; and

2. practise in association with at least one lawyer who is qualified to act as a principal for a period of one year after starting practice.

Graeme Joesbury

Vancouver, BC
Called to the Bar: September 11, 1984
Undertaking to cease practising law: November 8, 2004
Ceased membership: January 1, 2005
Hearing (application for reinstatement): April 9, 2009
Panel: Gavin Hume, QC, Chair, Joost Blom, QC and Stacy Kuiack
Report issued: May 22, 2009 (2009 LSBC 15)
Counsel: Henry Wood, QC for the Law Society and Richard Lindsay, QC for Graeme Joesbury

Graeme Joesbury practised criminal law for a number of years, first with a firm in Vancouver, then as a sole practitioner. He was Crown Counsel from 1989 to 1992, then returned to practice until 2004, both as a sole practitioner and with a firm from 1995 to 2002.

In the latter years of his practice, Joesbury encountered problems with depression, alcoholism and drug addiction. On November 8, 2004 Joesbury provided an undertaking to the Law Society to cease the practice of law pending the disposition of a citation that had been issued. On January 1, 2005 he became a former member of the Law Society for the non-payment of fees and has not practised since then.

After he ceased practice, Joesbury took a number of steps to address his problems and applied for reinstatement to practice. He held a teaching position with Jiangnan University and currently works as a case worker. Joesbury’s sponsor at Alcoholics Anonymous confirmed that he attends meetings regularly. The panel also reviewed a number of letters of recommendation, including several from lawyers who worked with Joesbury in the past. They described him as diligent and conscientious counsel prior to the difficulties he encountered in his later years of practice. The panel also reviewed a number of medical reports that indicated that Joesbury was committed to and responding well to treatment.

After reviewing the letters of reference and the evidence, the panel was satisfied that Joesbury was a person of good character and repute and fit to become a barrister and solicitor. The panel ordered Joesbury reinstated if he agrees to:

1. abstain from alcohol and drugs;

2. attend regular AA meetings and make regular contact with AA sponsor;

3. take anti-depressant medication as directed by family physician or psychiatrist;

4. for the first 12 months after reinstatement, visit a family physician once a month and authorize prompt communication with the Law Society and the Lawyers’ Assistance Program in the event of any slippage. After the first year, quarterly visits may be approved by family physician;

5. advise the Law Society promptly of the identity and contact information of a new family physician;

6. enter into a physician monitoring agreement including monthly meetings and regular reports to the Law Society;

7. not practise in any area other than criminal law, except with the permission of the Credentials Committee;

8. arrange for five lawyers who practise criminal law within the same geographic area to commit in writing to notify the Credentials Committee if Joesbury’s behaviour raises any concerns for them related to:

(a) his professional conduct; or

(b)  any apparent depression or substance abuse.

Upon a request from Joesbury, supported by his family physician, the conditions may be modified by the Credentials Committee as it sees fit.

Costs will be addressed at a later date.