|For immediate release||October 3, 2016|
Law Society takes action to protect the public from unauthorized practice of law
Vancouver, October 3, 2016 – The Law Society of British Columbia takes action against those who put the public at risk by performing unregulated and uninsured legal services or misrepresenting themselves as lawyers. When the Law Society receives a complaint, it will investigate and take appropriate action if there is a potential for harm to the public.
From June 1 to October 2, 2016, the Law Society obtained undertakings from two individuals not to engage in the practice of law. During that time period, the Law Society also obtained orders prohibiting the following individuals from engaging in the unauthorized practice of law.
On June 2, 2016, Nashamen Ramzan, of Richmond, consented to an injunction prohibiting her from engaging in the practice of law, representing herself as a lawyer or otherwise qualified to practise law, and from commencing, prosecuting or defending proceedings in any court on behalf of others. The Law Society alleged that Ramzan had drafted various documents for a fee relating to an immigration matter. Further, the Law Society alleged that Ramzan charged a fee to commence and prosecute a family law proceeding and held herself out as a legal representative while doing so. Ramzan agreed to pay $3,500 in restitution and $1,500 representing the Law Society’s costs.
On July 15, 2016, Associate Chief Justice Cullen found Charles Bryfogle, of Kamloops, in contempt of various court orders and sentenced him to a conditional sentence order of one year followed by a year of probation. Included in the conditions of the sentence, Bryfogle is required to serve three months of house arrest, must undergo a mental health assessment and follow the proposed treatment, and must not involve himself in the legal matters of members of the Tsilhqot'in Nation. Bryfogle must not enter any courthouse or file any documents during his sentence or probation, except in specific circumstances, including if the documents are signed by a lawyer. The order and reasons for judgment will be released in due course.
On August 4, 2016, Mr. Justice Macintosh found Ronald William Kostyk, of Surrey, in contempt of two court orders for representing himself as qualified or entitled to engage in the practice of law, failing to inform members of the public and administrative tribunals that he is not a lawyer, and failing to make restitution payments as previously ordered. The court sentenced Kostyk to 21 days of incarceration, which is to be suspended for three years and only served if Kostyk further breaches various court orders. Kostyk must complete 50 hours of community service within a year and must make monthly restitution and cost payments.
On September 16, 2016, Madam Justice Brown granted an injunction prohibiting Nguyen Phuong Nguyen, of Burnaby and Seattle, Washington, from engaging in the practice of law, from commencing, prosecuting or defending proceedings on behalf of others and from representing himself as a lawyer, attorney or in any other manner that connotes that he is capable or entitled to practise law. He is also known as Win Wen Nguyen and Nguyen Phoung Nguyen, and does business as Utopia Enterprises International Law Group, Utopia Enterprises, LLC, Mystific Global Incorporate and www.utopia-enterprise.com. Claiming to be a lawyer, Nguyen purported to defend one “client” in a criminal matter and offered to provide immigration advice and services to other clients for fees. In the end, Nguyen’s legal services appear to have been illusory. The court ordered Nguyen to pay restitution to his victims in the amount of $8,135 and to pay costs to the Law Society in the amount of $3,922.70
On September 23, 2016, Madam Justice Bruce granted an injunction prohibiting Kent Stewart Webb, of Penticton, from engaging in the practice of law, from commencing, prosecuting or defending proceedings on behalf of others and from representing himself as a lawyer, counsel or in any other manner that connotes that he is capable or entitled to practise law. Webb drafted and filed letters, pleadings, an affidavit and an order stating that he was “counsel” and “lawyer” for parties to a criminal and a family proceeding. The court awarded the Law Society costs in the amount of $3,793.36.
To read the orders, search by name in the Law Society’s database of unauthorized practitioners.
The Law Society acts against the unauthorized practice of law to ensure only trained, qualified lawyers (or articled students or paralegals under a lawyer’s supervision) may provide legal services and advice to the public, as others are neither regulated nor insured. The Law Society 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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