The Law Society of Upper Canada ats GroiaPosted March 4, 2016
The Law Society of Upper Canada commenced disciplinary proceedings against the Lawyer, alleging he had engaged in uncivil conduct in his defence in court of a client charged with quasi-criminal offences in connection with a major securities fraud. The issues included whether the Law Society’s prosecution was an interference with judicial independence; whether the prosecution interfered with the Lawyer’s right to free expression and the definition of “civility” and how civil conduct interacts with a lawyer’s duty to zealously defend his or her client’s interests. Also at issue was whether earlier court decisions rendered in the context of an application to determine whether the trial judge in the quasi-criminal trial had lost jurisdiction, and which adversely commented on the Lawyer’s conduct, led to the conclusion that it would be an abuse of process for the Lawyer to defend himself against the Law Society’s charges. Before the Law Society Appeal Panel, we succeeded in overturning the original Hearing Panel’s determination that the Lawyer’s defence against the professional misconduct charges were an abuse of process, and in reducing the suspension and costs order awarded by the original Hearing Panel. The issues of judicial independence, free expression and the definition of “civility” are the subject of a further appeal to the Divisional Court, which is currently pending.