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BARRISTERS AND SOLICITORS - Relationship with client - Duty of competence

Thursday, May 02, 2019 @ 8:48 AM  


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Appeal by Farkas from an order of the Law Society Tribunal’s Appeal Division. Farkas received his license to practice law in 1991 and primarily practiced refugee law since 2008. The respondent Law Society of Ontario received complaints from 10 Hungarian-speaking Roma refugee complainants about Farkas’ assistance in the preparation of their Personal Information Forms. The Law Society Tribunal’s Hearing Division made findings of professional misconduct and imposed a six-month license suspension, practice restrictions, and ordered Farkas to pay costs of $200,000. Farkas appealed to the Law Society Tribunal’s Appeal Division. The Appeal Division upheld the decision of the Hearing Division. Farkas took the position that the Appeal Panel erred in its application of the standard of practice and in concluding that the Hearing Panel properly assessed the credibility of one of the witnesses. Farkas further submitted that the Appeal Panel erred in concluding that the Hearing Panel did not misapprehend the evidence and make unreasonable findings of fact. Finally, Farkas took the position that the Appeal Panel erred in concluding that the $200,000 costs award was reasonable.

HELD: Appeal dismissed. The Appeal Panel correctly defined its role and the reasons given by both panels were in accordance with their governing mandate. There was nothing unreasonable in the Hearing Panel’s review of the evidence and deference was owed to their findings of fact. The Appeal Panel gave due consideration to the award of costs made by the Hearing Panel. The Appeal Panel’s decision not to intervene fell within the reasonable range of outcomes for an appeal.

Farkas v. Law Society of Ontario, [2019] O.J. No. 1590, Ontario Superior Court of Justice - Divisional Court, A. Mullins, F.L. Myers and L.G. Favreau JJ., April 1, 2019. Digest No. TLD-April292019012