Credentials hearing

Law Society Rule 2-69.1 provides for the publication of summaries of credentials hearing panel decisions on applications for enrolment in articles, call and admission and reinstatement. If a panel rejects an application, the published summary does not identify the applicant without his or her consent.

For the full text of hearing panel decisions, see the Regulation & Insurance section of the Law Society’s website at www.lawsociety.bc.ca.

Paul Christian Nigol

Vancouver, BC

Called to the Bar: July 1, 2006

Hearing (application for call and admission by transfer): June 7, 2006

Panel: William F.M. Jackson, Chair, June Preston, Dirk J. Sigalet, QC

Report issued: June 14, 2006 (indexed as 2006 LSBC 24).

Mr. Nigol was a member in good standing of the Law Society of Alberta. In August 2005, he applied for call and admission in BC. His application for admission disclosed that he had been convicted of driving with a blood alcohol level over .08 in 1999. It also disclosed he had been charged with a similar offence in July 2005. This second charge was subsequently resolved when Mr. Nigol pleaded guilty to careless driving and speeding.

The Credentials Committee referred Mr. Nigol’s application to a hearing. Pursuant to s. 19(1) of the Legal Profession Act, to be called to the bar of BC, an applicant must satisfy the Law Society that he or she is a person of good character and repute and is fit to be a barrister and a solicitor of the Supreme Court.

Counsel for both the Law Society and Mr. Nigol submitted, and the panel accepted, that the applicant’s circumstances did not give rise to issues of character or reputation. The only issue was whether Mr. Nigol’s use of alcohol affected his fitness to practise law.

After hearing evidence from two addiction specialists and from Mr. Nigol, the panel concluded the applicant was not addicted to alcohol. The panel said that while Mr. Nigol’s alcohol use had, on at least two occasions, been irresponsible and shown impaired judgement, it had not escalated to alcohol dependency and had no effect on his ability to practise law.

The panel also noted Mr. Nigol’s “effective and successful use of counselling services, his own rigorous self-examination and his favourable work record as a lawyer in Calgary.”

The panel approved his application for call and admission and ordered that he pay $500 as costs of the hearing.

A majority of the panel — Benchers William Jackson and June Preston — also ordered that Mr. Nigol be subject to two conditions for one year:

  • that he obtain counselling from the Lawyers Assistance Program or Interlock; and
  • that he obtain counselling from a psychologist every three months and that the psychologist provide the Law Society with reports at six-month intervals.

In dissenting reasons, Bencher Dirk Sigalet, QC disagreed with the imposition of conditions. He said Mr. Nigol had already recognized the need for counselling and that ordering him to seek counselling was unnecessary.