Wirick claimant profile: the Ng family

  The Ng family in front of their Vancouver home.
  The Ng family in front of their Vancouver home.

In July 2001 Allan and Sanlly Ng moved into their new Vancouver home with their two pre-school children and Allan’s parents. Allan and Sanlly were excited to have more space; they had shared a Vancouver apartment with Allan’s parents since the senior Ngs’ arrival from China in 1995.

About a year later Allan and Sanlly received a letter from their lawyer, advising them that two mortgages worth nearly $400,000 were still registered against their new home, ahead of the mortgage held by their own bank. The letter also advised that the vendor’s lawyer, Martin Wirick, had apparently released the net sale proceeds without discharging those two prior mortgages, in breach of his undertakings.

“We couldn’t understand that letter,” Sanlly recalls. “When I took it to my employer for his explanation, I was confused and frightened. In Chinese culture, the home is the family’s anchor. We will sacrifice food and clothing to protect the security of our home.”

Allan and Sanlly were both raised in the Chinese city of Guangzhou, home to more than 3.3 million people. A trained teacher, Sanlly moved to Vancouver in 1990. Soon, she was working as a cashier in the Granville Island Market by day and studying English by night. Allan followed Sanlly to Vancouver in 1993 and they married the following year. A business college graduate, Allan quickly found work — first delivering for a restaurant, and then driving a truck and managing delivery routes for a local produce company.

Allan and Sanlly submitted their compensation claim to the Law Society in October 2002. In just over a year, the Special Compensation Fund Committee completed its investigation and committed to restoring the Ngs and their bank to the positions they would have held had Wirick honoured his undertakings.

“We were very relieved and very grateful to the Law Society for its fair and fast handling of our claim,” Allan said. “We knew from newspapers and television that many people had suffered losses through Mr. Wirick’s actions, and that the Law Society had received hundred of claims, totalling millions of dollars. We had lost faith in lawyers. The way the Law Society has responded to those claims, including ours, has restored our trust in the legal profession.”