Discipline

New Ethics Ruling

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The Law Society’s Ethics Committee recently released the following Ethics Ruling as guidance for the profession. For your convenience, we’ve listed the ruling below but it can also be found in our Ethics Rulings Database.

If you have any questions or concerns  regarding this post, please contact the Law Society at (306) 569-8242 or 1-833-733-0133.

Date: December 6, 2018
Cite as: 2018 SKLSPC 10
Classification: Undertakings and Trust Conditions, Rule 7.2-11
Practice Area: Family Law

Ethics Committee Ruling:
This was a Request for Ruling by Lawyer X. Lawyer X received disclosure on trust conditions from Lawyer Y. Lawyer X was concerned with the trust conditions for the reasons as follows:
1. They purport to place trust conditions retroactively on documents received in the past;
2. They place trust conditions on material from court services;
3. They place trust conditions on documents filed with the court; and
4. They purport to attach trust conditions to all disclosure which may be received in the future.

Ruling:
The Ethics Committee reviewed the trust conditions and determined that while it is inappropriate to impose trust conditions on documents provided in the past, Lawyer Y has revised their trust condition template letter and rectified this issue. Lawyer Y does have a duty to draft clear and unambiguous trust conditions. In this instance, the Committee did not find there were any other issues with the drafting of Lawyer Y’s trust conditions. If Lawyer X does not wish to accept the trust conditions, they can return the documents and either request an amendment or make the argument to the Court about why they have not received disclosure and allow the court to decide. In the event Lawyer X already has court documents that Lawyer Y provided by way of disclosure, Lawyer X should return the disclosure to Lawyer Y and advise that they already have their own copy and therefore they do not need them.
With respect to imposing trust conditions on future disclosure, the Ethics Committee noted that these are used regularly in the court context in both criminal proceedings and family services proceedings as they allow for timely disclosure. Lawyers may exchange disclosure when they have it and not return to the office to send a cover letter with trust conditions. To create a ruling that prohibits this would put an onerous obligation on prosecutors to the detriment of the accused.

Law Society Penalty Decision: Law Society of Saskatchewan v. MacKay

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A penalty decision has been released in relation to the matter of the Law Society of Saskatchewan v. David MacKay. The following allegations against the Member were proven in an earlier phase of the hearing process:

i. did, after agreeing to trust conditions imposed by Lawyer S. in relation to the release of certain settlement funds coming into his possession, fail to comply with those trust conditions by releasing said funds without first ensuring the trust conditions had been met.

The following penalty was imposed by the Committee:

a. DAVID MACKAY is reprimanded;

b. DAVID MACKAY shall pay a fine to the Law Society of Saskatchewan in the amount of $1,000.00;

c. DAVID MACKAY shall pay costs to the Law Society of Saskatchewan in the amount of $11,000.00;

d. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED THAT DAVID MACKAY shall pay the amounts noted above by 4:00 p.m. on April 30, 2019, failing which a suspension shall be imposed until such time as the amounts noted above have been paid in full.

For more information on the Law Society of Saskatchewan discipline proceedings, please visit the Discipline Section on the Law Society of Saskatchewan website.

Law Society of Saskatchewan Discipline Update: Peter V. Abrametz, Sr.

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A penalty decision has been released in relation to the matter of the Law Society of Saskatchewan v. Peter V. Abrametz, Sr. The following allegations against the Member were proven in an earlier phase of the Hearing Process:

1. did, in relation to the following clients, effect withdrawals of trust funds for the payment of fees, disbursements or other expenses in a manner contrary to Law Society of Saskatchewan Rule 942(3):

a. M.G.;
b. E.M.;
c. S.F.;
d. K.S.;
e. A.K.;
f. J.M.;
g. A.N.; and
h. E.H.

2. did knowingly cause trust cheques to be issued to a fictitious person for the purpose of effecting a transfer of trust funds for payment to himself;

4. did fail to maintain proper books and records in relation to his legal practice contrary to Part 13(H) of the Law Society of Saskatchewan Rules in relation to the following client matters:

a. M.G.;
b. E.M.;
c. S.F.;
d. K.S.;
e. A.K.;
f. J.M.;
g. A.N.; and
h. E.H.

5. did enter into or continue a debtor/creditor relationship with the following clients (loaning money) when his interests and the interests of those clients were in conflict and failed to ensure that:

a. the transaction was a fair and reasonable one;
b. that its terms were fully disclosed to the client in writing in a manner that is reasonably understood by the client;
c. the client was given a reasonable opportunity to seek independent legal advice about the transaction;
d. the client consented in writing to the conflict of interest; and
e. there was no appearance of undue influence;

in relation to the following client matters:

i. A.N.;
ii. Doris S.;
iii, Deanna S.;
iv. R.B.;
v. L.H.;
vi. C.J.;
vii. D.M.;
viii. D.J.;
ix. C.M.;
x. T.H.; and
xi. R.B.

The following penalty was imposed by the Hearing Committee:

(a) Pursuant to s. 53(3)(a)(i) of The Legal Professions Act, 1990 Peter Vincent Abrametz is disbarred and prohibited from applying for readmission as a lawyer in Saskatchewan prior to January 1, 2021;

(b) Pursuant to s. 53(3)(a)(v) of The Legal Professions Act, 1990 Peter Vincent Abrametz is ordered to pay $58,645.24 in costs to the Law Society of Saskatchewan on or before December 31, 2020; and

(c) Should Peter Vincent Abrametz fail to pay any of the ordered costs within the prescribed time he shall be prohibited from applying for readmission as a lawyer.

For more information on the Law Society of Saskatchewan discipline proceedings, please visit the Hearings, Decisions and Outcomes section of the Law Society of Saskatchewan website.

Law Society of Saskatchewan Discipline Update: Mervin Phillips

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A penalty decision has been released in relation to the matter of Law Society of Saskatchewan v Phillips. The following allegations were proven in an earlier phase of the hearing process:

1. did fail to be frank and candid with S.H. in relation to the anticipated costs of S.H.’s legal matter;

2. did fail to serve his client, S.H., in a conscientious, diligent and efficient manner as follows:

a) he spent time unnecessarily in connection with issues S.H. had instructed                              him to abandon; and

b) he required S.H. to make unnecessary and excessive personal attendances                             at his office;

3. did charge a fee to S.H. that was not fully disclosed, fair and reasonable.

The following penalty was imposed by the Hearing Committee:

(a) The Member be suspended for a period of thirty days with the period of suspension to commence on a date as agreed between Counsel for the Conduct Investigation Committee and Counsel for the Member but such period of suspension to commence no later than July 1, 2019;

(b) The Member to pay costs in the sum of $13,986.84 to the Law Society of Saskatchewan on or before July 1, 2019 failing which an additional suspension from practice will be imposed until full payment has been made.

For more information on the Law Society of Saskatchewan discipline proceedings, please visit the Hearings, Decisions and Outcomes section of the Law Society of Saskatchewan website.

Law Society of Saskatchewan Discipline Update: Dale Norman Blenner-Hassett

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A decision has been released in relation to the matter of Law Society of Saskatchewan v. Dale Blenner-Hassett.  The following allegations against the Member were proven:

  1. did, in the course of his practice, fail to act with courtesy, civility and in good faith toward another lawyer, S.V.;
  2. did fail to discharge his responsibility to other members of the profession honourably and with integrity:
    (a) by communicating with another lawyer regarding S.V., using ill-considered words which criticized S.V.’s conduct, competence and integrity;
  3. did, in the course of his professional practice send correspondence to S.V. that was abusive, offensive or otherwise inconsistent with the proper tone of professional communication from a lawyer.

The following penalty was imposed by the Hearing Committee:

  1. The Member shall pay a fine of $2,500.00 to the Law Society of Saskatchewan;
  2. The Member shall pay costs to the Law Society of Saskatchewan in the amount of $1,050.00;
  3. The Member shall complete 3 hours of CPD training on the subject of civility as approved by the Director of Admissions and Education.
  4. The Member has until 4:00 p.m., Monday, December 17, 2018 to comply with all of the above, failing which a suspension from practice shall be imposed until such time as all of the above are complied with.

For more information on Law Society of Saskatchewan discipline proceedings please visit the Discipline Section of the Law Society of Saskatchewan website.

Law Society of Saskatchewan Discipline Update: Darby Bachynski

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A decision has been released in relation to the matter of Law Society of Saskatchewan v. Darby Bachynski.  The following allegations against the Member were proven:

(1) Did fail to provide competent, diligent, and efficient services to her client, F.M., by failing, within a reasonable time, to inform F.M. that a decision of the Court had been released in connection with F.M.’s legal matters;

(2) Did fail to be honest and candid with her client, F.M., by intentionally concealing from F.M. the existence of a decision released by the Court in connection with F.M.’s legal mater and affecting F.M.’s interests; and

(3) Did, in relation to F.M., knowingly mislead a fellow member of the Law Society (primary counsel for F.M. within her firm) as to the status and nature of a court decision in relation to F.M.

The following penalty was imposed by the Hearing Committee:

(a) The Member shall not be entitled to reapply for admission to the Law Society of Saskatchewan for a period of six months from the date of this Decision;

(b) The Member shall pay costs in the sum of $3,300.00 which shall be paid on or before December 1, 2019. Until the costs set out above are paid in full, the Member shall not be entitled to apply for re-admission to the Law Society of Saskatchewan.

For more information on Law Society of Saskatchewan discipline proceedings please visit the Discipline Section of the Law Society of Saskatchewan website.

Law Society of Saskatchewan Discipline Update: Peter Andrew Abrametz

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The Saskatchewan Court of Appeal has issued a Decision in relation to the penalty appeal of Peter A. Abrametz.  The Court of Appeal confirmed its ruling from the Bench of April 18, 2018, in dismissing the portion of the Member’s appeal related to a 2-month suspension previously ordered by the Law Society of Saskatchewan Discipline Committee in 2017 SKLSS 4. The Court of Appeal allowed, in part, the Member’s appeal in relation to costs..

The suspension of Peter A. Abrametz will take effect on June 29, 2018 and run until August 29, 2018.

For more information on Law Society of Saskatchewan discipline proceedings please visit the Discipline Section of the Law Society of Saskatchewan website.