Discipline Case Summaries
The following are summaries of past formal hearing decisions:
2015-16 (File #08)
Member: Paul J. D. Mullin, Q.C.
Disposition: $3,500 Fine and Costs to be paid to the Law Society
Member plead guilty to the following charge:
In Feb 2013, the member solicited a $15,000 loan from his client for the benefit of his corporate client in which he also had a personal interest, and negotiated a subsequent amendment to the loan agreement, without referring his client for independent legal advice, or obtaining informed consent, contrary to Chapters V, VI and VII of the Code of Professional Conduct.
2014-15 (File #03)
Member: Mitchell T. MacLeod
Disposition: Permission to Resign, Costs of $75,000 and Conditions upon Application for Re-admission
Following the receipt of a number of complaints and concerns by the Law Society, the Member undertook to cease practice on January 30, 2015 and a Receiver, John Hennessey, Q.C. of McInnes Cooper, was put in place to manage the Member's files and accounts.
Following the investigation into the Member's practice of law, he was charged with a number of counts of unprofessional conduct on January 15, 2016. The charges alleged that the Member failed to discharge his professional duties with integrity, failed to provide a quality of service expected of a competent lawyer, failed to respond to client communications within a reasonable time, charged fees that were not fully disclosed to the client and appropriated funds from clients in full payment for legal services that had not yet been provided, failed to reply promptly to communications from the Law Society, failed to maintain his books of accounts in a proper and adequate fashion, failed to observe a standard of conduct that reflects credit on the legal profession and the administration of justice, and engaged in a debtor-creditor relationship with a client.
The Member subsequently admitted to the charges and admitted that they constituted unprofessional conduct.
On April 11, 2016, a Discipline Committee of the Law Society of Prince Edward Island accepted a proposed Settlement Agreement permitting the Member to resign his membership as a result of disciplinary proceedings pursuant to Regulation 61 of the Legal Profession Act. In addition to the Member's resignation from the Law Society, the Settlement Agreement indicates that he cannot re-apply to the Law Society for 7 years. A number of conditions have been put in place regarding his application for re-admission, including payment of costs of the discipline proceedings, set at $75,000.
Council of the Law Society allowed the Member to resign his Law Society membership as a result of discipline proceedings. The Settlement Agreement was signed by all parties and is effective April 27, 2016.
2011-12 (File #07)
Member: Paul J. D. Mullin, Q.C.
Disposition: $3,000 Fine and Costs to be paid to the Law Society
Member plead guilty to the following Law Society charges:
Member acted as the lawyer for the Complainants and Company and continued to act where there was or was likely to be a conflicting interest, without adequate disclosure and consent, the particulars of which include, but are not limited to:
Advised and represented company with respect to sale of shares to the complainants, shareholder loans and the sale of the complainants’ shares while at the same time serving as complainants’ lawyer, without referring them to independent legal advice or without obtaining waivers of independent legal advice and consent to proceed in writing.
Member entered into and continued business transactions with the complainants, and acted as a lawyer for them when his duties to them and his personal interests were in conflict, such conduct being contrary to Section 37(1) of the Legal Profession Act, and Chapter VI of the Code of Professional Conduct, the particulars of which include, but are not limited to:
Entered into and continued a business transaction with the complainants, when they expected or may have expected that he was protecting their interests and while there was a significant risk that his interests and their interests could differ. He did so without either providing them with a reasonable opportunity to seek independent legal advice regarding the transactions or without obtaining waivers of independent legal advice and consent to proceed in writing; and
Acted on transactions when his duties to the complainants and his personal interests were in conflict, including, but not limited to: The purchase and sale of the Complainants’ shares in company and subsequent business transactions, when, at the same time, he was a shareholder, director, officer, and lawyer for the company.
Member engaged in a business concurrently with the practice of law, and allowed his business activities outside the practice of law to jeopardize his professional integrity, independence or competence, such conduct being contrary to Section 37(1) of the Legal Profession Act, supra, and Chapter VII of the Code of Professional Conduct, the particulars of which include, but are not limited to,: Did not carry on his outside business activities with company in such a way as to ensure against the risk of a conflict of interest or duty as between himself and the complainants, including, but not limited to: While he was a shareholder, director, officer and lawyer for company and while he was also acting as a lawyer for the complainants on unrelated matters, did engage in outside business activities with the complainants on behalf of the company without referring them to independent legal advice or without obtaining waivers of independent legal advice and consent to proceed in writing.
2007-08 (File #16)
Member: Regena K. Russell
Disposition: Suspension for 8 months, costs of $60,000 and Conditions re: Reinstatement
Secretary-Treasurer referred a Member’s request for assistance to Council, acting as an Investigation Committee. The Committee appointed a Receiver, Practice Investigator and Spot Auditor. Following a further meeting at which the Member attended, the Committee issued an interim suspension, pending investigation into the conduct of the Member and irregularities in the trust accounts. The formal complaint included as follows: (1) The failure to complete the books of account, contrary to section 44 of the Legal Profession Act and Regulation 36.2; (2) The failure to maintain monthly trust account reconciliations within the 30 day time limit, contrary to Regulation 36.3(5) under the Legal Profession Act; (3) The deposit of monies into trust, contrary to section 44 of the Legal Profession Act and Regulation 36.3(5); (4) The withdrawal of monies from trust, contrary to section 44 of the Legal Profession Act and Regulation 36.4. The Member co-operated fully with the Investigation Committee. At the Formal Hearing, an Agreed Statement of Facts and Joint Recommendation on Penalty were presented, including a number of conditions for reinstatement, which was accepted by the Panel.
2006-07 (File #05)
Member: Scott E. Campbell
Disposition: Reprimand, $1,000 Fine & Costs
The formal complaint of the Secretary-Treasurer included as follows: That the Member committed unprofessional conduct in that he did fail to serve his client in a conscientious, diligent and efficient manner so as to provide a quality of service at least equal to that which lawyers would expect of a competent lawyer in like circumstances. The Agreed Statement of Facts indicated that the complaint arose from the Member’s representation of the vendors in a real estate transaction. The Member held back monies in trust pending the receipt of a tax clearance certificate from Revenue Canada. A tax certificate was never issued and the Member continued to hold a sum of money for many years. The Member has acknowledged and taken responsibility for his delay in returning the funds to the vendors and his failure to obtain a tax clearance certificate from Revenue Canada in a timely manner. The Member admits this would be in breach of the Code of Professional Conduct and that it is conduct which falls below the standard of professionalism that he and the Law Society of PEI would ascribe to.
2006-07 (File #02)
Member: Ian W. H. Bailey
The formal complaint of the Secretary-Treasurer included as follows: That the Member committed unprofessional conduct in that he did not fully cooperate with a Law Society investigation when he failed to promptly respond to inquiries from the Law Society. An Agreed Statement of Facts was read into the record at the Formal Hearing, which included: “…[the Investigation Committee] concluded that the Member violated section 38(10) of the Legal Profession Act which states: “Failure by a Member to cooperate fully in respect of an investigation or inquiry constitutes professional misconduct.” The Committee also referred to Chapter XV of the Code of Professional Conduct entitled “Responsibility to the Profession Generally” which states: “The lawyer should assist in maintaining the integrity of the profession and should participate in its activities.” The commentary which follows the Rule states: “The lawyer has a duty to reply promptly to a communication from the governing body.”…The failure by the Member to respond promptly to the September 8th letter and the October 4th letter until October 19th was a failure to respond promptly to communications from the Law Society.”
2005-06 (File #03)
Member: Ian W. H. Bailey
Disposition: Reprimand plus 12 Months’ Monitoring
Following the receipt of initial reports regarding a Practice Investigation of a Member and the receipt of a report regarding a Spot Audit of a Member, the reports were referred to the Investigation Committee for consideration under Regulation 23(1). The Committee referred the matter for a Formal Hearing. Agreed Statement of Facts and Joint Recommendation on Penalty was presented and indicated that the member used a cash system for all non-trust payments and that he did not have a general account; that the failure to keep a general bank account made it very difficult to determine whether or not all transactions were in fact recorded; the Member kept no general ledger, disbursement ledger or payroll ledger, no internal trial balances, journal entries income statements or balance sheets for the accountant to review; trust accounts were not completed for 3 months; there were no allegations of dishonesty; the Member has taken steps to rectify the situation. The Hearing Panel accepted the joint recommendation on penalty.