Please find summaries with respect to:
For the full text of discipline decisions, visit the Regulation & Insurance / Regulatory Hearings section of the Law Society website.
Larry William Goddard
Called to the Bar: May 20, 1975 (ceased membership March 6, 2007)
Discipline hearings: September 17, 2007 (Facts and Verdict) and February
27, 2008 (Penalty)
Panel: Leon Getz, QC, Chair, Ralston Alexander, QC and Kenneth Walker
Reports issued: October 25, 2007 (2007 LSBC 46) and May 12, 2008 (2007 LSBC 14)
Counsel: Maureen Boyd for the Law Society and no-one on behalf of the Respondent
On May 3, 2007, a citation was issued against Larry Goddard, alleging 15 counts of misconduct that occurred between September 2000 and January 2007. The allegations included breaches of undertaking, failure to provide clients with an appropriate quality of service, failure to respond to colleagues and failure to respond to communications from the Law Society. The Law Society did not proceed with one of the counts at the hearing.
As Goddard was not present at either hearing, the panel had limited evidence from which to find facts. The panel referred to Goddard's conduct record and findings from a previous citation in order to better understand his circumstances.
Breaches of Undertaking
Goddard represented client FCC in a loan transaction. In letters dated June 27 and October 25, 2004, Goddard undertook to transfer funds to the solicitors for the vendors and ensure that all registered financial charges against the subject property in trust were discharged in the Land Title Office and provide particulars of the discharge within 60 days. Goddard failed to do so. In addition, Goddard failed to respond to communications from another lawyer involved in the transaction.
Goddard represented client LM in the sale of a mobile home. In a letter dated September 25, 2000 Goddard undertook to file a release of the existing PPSA charge registered against the mobile home and provide confirmation of having done so. Goddard failed to file a release within a reasonable period of time. In addition, Goddard failed to respond to communications from a notary representing the purchasers.
Goddard represented clients AC and RC in a real estate transaction with a numbered company. In a letter dated January 31, 2006, Goddard undertook to provide copies of financial documents within five business days of the completion date, pay the amount required by the payout statement, ensure the mortgage on the property was discharged and register the transaction with the Land Titles Office. Goddard failed to provide payout particulars within five business days of the completion date and failed to obtain a discharge of the mortgage held by the numbered company.
Failure to Provide an Appropriate Quality of Service
Goddard represented clients VS and MS in a real estate transaction. Goddard failed to provide a registrable Form A to the notary representing the purchaser. In doing so, Goddard failed to provide his clients with the quality of service equal to that of a competent lawyer in a similar situation. In addition, Goddard failed to respond promptly to the letters of February 9 and 13, 2006 from the notary representing the purchaser.
Failure to Respond to the Law Society
Goddard failed to respond promptly or at all to communications from the Law Society regarding seven complaints received by the Law Society about his professional conduct.
Goddard did not attend the hearings, citing numerous health problems, and counsel did not appear on his behalf. The panel acknowledged that he had health issues, but decided that despite his absence it was appropriate to proceed.
The panel found that in three instances, Goddard breached the undertakings to which he was subject. The panel also found that in three instances, Goddard failed to respond to communications from other lawyers or notaries public. The panel found that in seven instances, Goddard failed to respond on a timely basis or at all to communications from the Law Society. And the panel found that in one instance, Goddard failed to meet the required standard of competent service.
The panel noted that professional misconduct constitutes a marked departure from conduct the Law Society expects of its members. After reviewing the evidence, the panel concluded that Goddard's actions on all 14 counts constitute professional misconduct.
The panel accepted that Goddard's professional misconduct in this case arose from ongoing personal and family health issues, which resulted in him becoming disengaged from practice.
The panel noted that while the Law Society made repeated efforts to assist Goddard, it is his responsibility to get help when things are going wrong in practice. Goddard did not reach out in any way for needed assistance.
The panel noted that Goddard's professional misconduct is aggravated by its continued nature. The panel noted that the 14 counts of professional misconduct in the case before them were similar to the instances alleged in the 2004 citation against Goddard.
With regard to Goddard's personal history, the panel concluded that it is reasonable to impose a requirement that if he applies for reinstatement he cannot return to practice without proof that the underlying conditions have been resolved.
The hearing panel ordered that Goddard:
1. be suspended for six months, effective immediately;
2. upon application for reinstatement, provide a medical opinion from a physician acceptable to the Credentials Committee who can verify his mental and physical fitness to practise law;
3. pay a contribution to the costs of the proceedings in the amount of $12,000.
Michael Curt Scholz
West Vancouver, BC
Called to the Bar: May 14, 1979
Discipline hearings: April 24, 25 and May 4, 2007 (Facts and Verdict), May 5, 2008 (Penalty)
Panel: G. Glen Ridgeway, QC, Chair, Richard Stewart, QC, Dirk Sigalet, QC
Reports issued: January 17 (2008 LSBC 02) and June 2, 2008 (2008 LSBC 16)
Counsel: Maureen Boyd for the Law Society and George Gregory for Michael Scholz
Michael Scholz worked for a Vancouver law firm from 1979 to June 30, 2001 when he accepted an offer to become the President, legal advisor and Vice-Chair of the Board of Directors of G. Corp., one of his clients. Scholz and his firm agreed to a six month transition period commencing July 1, 2001 to wind up his practice.
Scholz was also a solicitor for client W. Ltd. In 1997, as a result of the failure of the Enron Mortgage Corporation, the Registrar of Mortgage Brokers froze W. Ltd.'s bank account. The bank that held the account commenced proceedings to have the funds paid into court for determination of the rightful owner or owners. DC, an investor in W. Ltd., also commenced an action to recover $100,000 he had loaned to W. Ltd. Appearances were filed by the bank, the Province of British Columbia, the Registrar of Mortgage Brokers, and investor LM.
Scholz obtained a court order to transfer the frozen funds to his law firm on the condition that they be held in trust, unless otherwise ordered by the court or agreed to by all parties. In May 2001, Scholz informed W. Ltd. that his firm would no longer represent them until arrangements were made for the payment of his account, which was $106,000 in arrears. Scholz shared this information with other claimants who had loaned funds to W. Ltd and therefore had an interest in the trust fund.
In July 2001, Scholz told DC, now President of W. Ltd., that there was an opportunity to earn a greater return for the funds being held in trust. The investment opportunity was with G. Inc, a subsidiary of Scholz's company, G. Corp. Scholz signed a trust cheque for the funds and delivered it to G. Corp. on July 20, 2001. The funds were ultimately repaid to the law firm, with a portion of them applied to the accounts owing.
The law firm was unaware that the transaction had taken place and had not authorized Scholz to sign trust cheques. Subsequent to Scholz's departure, the law firm investigated the matter, returned the funds and referred the matter to the Law Society.
The panel noted that all members of the Law Society are officers of the court, who have a duty to maintain the integrity of our legal system and honour court orders. The panel noted that while there was ultimately no financial loss for the parties involved, that does not mitigate the seriousness of the breach. The panel found that Scholz failed to follow through on the conditions set out in the court order governing the trust funds, finding him in breach of the order. In doing so, Scholz was in contravention of Rule 3-51 of the Law Society Rules.
The panel also found that Scholz was acting in circumstances that gave rise to the potential for divided loyalties and in a conflict of interest.
The hearing panel ordered that Scholz:
1. be suspended from the practice of law for a period of one month commencing June 2, 2008; and
2. pay costs in the amount of $26,437.50.
Steven Olaf Youngman
Called to the bar: May 12, 1981
Ceased membership: June 17, 2008
A citation was issued against Steven Youngman on September 12, 2007, alleging failure to protect confidential client information. Youngman admitted that he failed to take any or adequate steps to protect his client's confidential information in his dealings with US federal prosecutors.
Failure to protect confidential client information
From 1983 to 1990, Youngman was registered as an associate at a Vancouver law firm, but was seconded to and worked as a de facto employee of a Vancouver accounting firm. From 1990 to 1996, Youngman was a partner at the same accounting firm. He maintained his membership with the Law Society throughout this period.
In 1988, Youngman drafted and implemented a royalty agreement for client RE and a number of companies under his control. The agreement compelled the clients companies, based in North America, the United Kingdom and Australia, to pay royalties for use of "intellectual property" owned by a company located in Anguilla, a tax haven. The purpose of this arrangement was to reduce the taxable income of the companies, thereby augmenting the client's personal income.
RE was charged with tax fraud by the United States Department of Justice, pleaded guilty and was jailed for one year. In discussing information about his client's case with US federal prosecutors, Youngman failed to take any or adequate steps to protect confidential information about his client.
Admission and Penalty
In June 2008, Youngman admitted to the Discipline Committee that his conduct constituted professional misconduct. He resigned his membership with the Law Society, effective June 17, 2008. Under Rule 4-21, the Committee accepted Youngman's admission and his undertakings:
1. not to reapply for membership in the Law Society until June 17, 2013 (five years from the time he ceased to practice law);
2. not to apply for membership in any other law society without first advising the Law Society of BC in writing; and
3. not to permit his name to appear on the letterhead of any lawyer or law firm, or otherwise work for any lawyer or law firm in BC without the written consent of the Law Society.