|For immediate release||December 22, 2015|
Law Society suspends former Vancouver lawyer Robert Strother [updated January 27, 2016]
Vancouver, December 22, 2015 – The Law Society sets standards of professional responsibility for BC lawyers and articled students, and upholds those standards through a complaints and discipline process. These standards and processes are important to maintain public confidence and trust in lawyers. Accordingly, the Law Society has ordered that former lawyer Robert Strother of Vancouver be suspended for five months and pay costs of $54,792.38.
[Updated January 27, 2016: Strother has filed a Notice of Review pursuant to s.47 of the Legal Profession Act. He is seeking a review of the panel’s decision on facts and determination and its disciplinary action.]
Strother was found to have committed professional misconduct by failing to disclose to a client his financial interest in a potential competitor, failing to advise the client of a favourable Income Tax Act amendment and failing to disclose to the client that a previous legal opinion that he had given to the client should be reconsidered.
Strother was counsel in the 1990s for a corporation that devised and marketed film-industry tax shelter investments. In 1997 the federal government appeared to close the tax shelter business and, relying on Strother’s advice, his client wound down its business except to administer its ongoing obligations.
In early 1998, while he was still counsel for that company, Strother was approached by its former chief financial officer, who had an idea for a similar venture, and who asked Strother to seek an advanced ruling from Revenue Canada. In response, Strother obtained a substantial ownership interest in the new venture and then sought and received a favourable tax ruling.
Strother continued to provide some legal services and advice to the original client but failed to advise that client that he had a financial interest in the new venture, that his previous legal advice regarding its tax shelter business should be reconsidered, or that Revenue Canada made a favourable advance ruling.
Strother has not been a member of the Law Society since January 2008. Nevertheless, the Legal Profession Act requires that the Law Society impose the appropriate sanction for conduct that would constitute professional misconduct if he remained a member. In this circumstance the suspension indicates that the Law Society views this misconduct seriously and that no longer being a member of the Law Society is not a way of escaping its scrutiny.
Written reasons for disciplinary action are available here.
The Law Society of British Columbia upholds and protects the public interest in the administration of justice by ensuring the independence, integrity and competence of lawyers, establishing education and professional development standards for lawyers, regulating the practice of law and preserving and protecting the rights and freedoms of all persons.
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