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REGULATION OF LEGAL PROFESSION - Law societies and governing bodies - Disciplinary proceedings - Providing member with details of allegations

Wednesday, December 27, 2017 @ 8:08 AM  


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Appeal by McLean, a lawyer, from a Law Society of British Columbia Review Board decision that overturned a Hearing Panel decision and substituted a professional misconduct finding. The professional misconduct finding concerned McLean’s failure to promptly meet financial obligations and promptly reply to client communications about those obligations in relation to his law practice. On appeal, McLean argued that the Board erred in not ordering the Law Society to disclose all of the complaints it had ever received relating to the late payment of debts, and particulars of those complaints. At issue on appeal was the appropriate standard of review the Board was to apply to the Hearing Panel decision, the proper application of that standard of review, and Law Society disclosure obligations. McLean argued the standard of review had recently changed, such that questions of mixed fact and law had to be reviewed on a deferential standard of reasonableness.

HELD: Appeal dismissed. The Board’s decision to dismiss McLean’s disclosure application was reasonable. McLean’s request for document disclosure was “unworkable, if not impossible”. Redaction would not have solved the problem and it would not have addressed concerns the Board raised. The Board correctly described and applied the applicable standard of review and legal standard for a professional misconduct finding. The standard of review to be applied to Hearing Panel decisions was correctness. The conclusions the Board drew were open on the evidence, which was the written documentation before the Board.

Law Society of British Columbia v. McLean, [2017] B.C.J. No. 2474, British Columbia Court of Appeal, M.V. Newbury, S.D. Frankel and J.E.D. Savage JJ.A., October 31, 2017. Digest No. TLD-December252017001