Credentials hearing

Re: An Applicant

Pursuant to Law Society Rule 2-69.1, the published summary does not identify the applicant when the application is rejected.

Hearing (application for call and admission by transfer): February 26 – March 1, 2007
Panel: Dirk J. Sigalet, QC, Chair, Robert E.C. Apps, QC and John M. Hogg, QC
Report issued: June 19, 2007 (2007 LSBC 34)
Counsel: Herman Van Ommen for the Law Society and Christopher E. Hinkson, QC for the applicant

In November 2005, a Manitoba lawyer applied for membership in the Law Society of BC. The Law Society’s review of his application determined he had provided incomplete information about a 1998 criminal charge of assaulting his common-law spouse that was subsequently stayed, and that he had failed to disclose a 2005 conviction under Manitoba’s Retail Sales Tax Act. As a result, the Credentials Committee ordered a hearing to require that the applicant meet the requirements of s. 19 of the Legal Profession Act by establishing that he was of good character and repute and fit to become a barrister and solicitor.

The hearing panel rejected the applicant’s claim that he thought he did not have to disclose the Retail Sales Tax Act conviction — which resulted from the applicant’s refusal to pay the tax so he could challenge its legality in a test case he never launched — even though the application form specifically required disclosure of all charges arising from “any crime, offence or delinquency under a statute or ordinance.” The panel noted the applicant pleaded guilty and was granted an absolute discharge only three months before filling out the application and, according to a trial transcript, specifically told the judge he would have to disclose the conviction to the Law Society of BC.

Additional evidence disclosed that a Manitoba judge had criticized the applicant’s decision to act as counsel for his common-law spouse in a family relations matter, that another judge had questioned his skill and competence when he “deserted” a client at a critical point in her legal matter, and that the Law Society of Manitoba had reprimanded him for berating a client who questioned his advice.

Former clients also told the hearing their experience with the applicant was that of confrontation, disrespect, and a lack of legal preparation as well as badgering, harassing and intimidating.

The panel concluded the applicant had been untruthful on his application for membership in the Law Society and, as well, had failed to establish he was of good character and repute. His application for membership was dismissed.