I was looking through some old emails from 2007 the other day when I came across this gem.
Due to the British Columbia Law Society failing to comply with their own rules I cc’d the BC Attorney General to future communications with the Law Society. I did communicate directly with the Attorney General’s Office and they did inform me that they would not reply to a cc’d letter so I did forward communications with the Law Society. Of course it will be interesting to receive their reply. It wasn’t that interesting except that Wally Opal ( attorney general ) had his brother involved in a discipline committee hearing with the Real Estate Board the previous day.
Attorney General of British Columbia
I wrote a little while ago complaining about the conduct of the BC Law Society. Since that time the Law Society’s Benchers have decided that my complaint against Mr. Greg Stacey and the Professional Conduct Dept. decided that my complaint against my lawyer Mr William Westcott are without merit.
I understand that the Attorney General is a member of the Law Society and through the Assistant Attorney General is represented on the Discipline Committee. I have requested a reason why the complaint against Mr. R.G. Stacey was dismissed at the Discipline Committee prior to going to a Hearing. I have been told that the decisions of the Committee are not made public. The simple facts of this case are not denied – namely Mr. Stacey was under a court order to provide me with a monthly statement of his trust account which he failed to do so amongst many other things for 7 months despite monthly reminders, and an application to court being made by Mr. William Westcott which was mysteriously adjourned. Please inform me how the Law Society is complying with their statutory duty to protect the public in this failure to discipline a member for contempt of court and then refusing to provide any reason for their decision. Failure in the administrators of the Rule of Law creates contempt for the Court System.
Wally Oppal’s Response:
Dear Mr. Holsworth:
> Thank you for your e-mail dated November 22, 2007, concerning the
> outcome of your complaints to the Law Society of British Columbia.
> I understand that you are dissatisfied with the outcome of your formal
> complaints to the Law Society about two lawyers in private practice.
> You are asking me to explain how the Law Society is complying with their
> statutory duty to protect the public in these circumstances. As I
> explained in my letter of August 27, 2007, the Law Society is
> self-governing. It is completely independent of government and has the
> right and responsibility to administer the Legal Profession Act. It is
> not within my mandate as Attorney General to intervene in the complaint
> review process established by the Law Society.
> Any concerns you have with respect to the Law Society’s administration
> of its statutory powers and responsibilities should be directed to the
> Law Society.
> If you have not already done so, you may wish to contact the Office of
> the Ombudsman about this situation. Contact information was provided in
> my August 27 letter.
> I regret to say that this is not a matter in which I can become
> Wally Oppal
> Attorney General
My Response Back:
Thank you for your return email.
I have requested that the Law Society of British Columbia indicate how they
are complying with their statutory duty to protect the public. They have
acknowledged receipt of my letter but have declined to respond.
I have requested that the Law Society of British Columbia provide written
reasons why they have refused to request a audit of a lawyers trust account
who refused to comply with a court order to provide me for 8 months with a
monthly trust account statement.
I have requested by letter that the Law Society of British Columbia provide
written reasons why they have declined to discipline this lawyer. They have
refused to do so.
I have requested by letter that the Law Society of British Columbia explain
to me how a lawyer apparantly representing me apparantly adjourned a court
hearing which in part requested that the lawyer who had failed to provide a
monthly trust account statement provide that statement in 24 hours. They
have refused to do so.
I have initiated a complaint with the BC Ombudsman. It has been three months
since I was contacted by the BC Ombudsmand in this regard. According to the
BC Ombudsman’s Office it is fundamental to Administrative Justice that the
BC Law Society provide me with written reasons.
I did look at your website to get further information on what the mandate of
the BC Attorney General might be but could not find much more than the
“Our goal is to seek innovative ways to better our justice services and give
British Columbians access to a quality justice system that meets their
That seems to provide a mandate.
I initially contacted your office because I understood that the BC Attorney
General’s Office has a representative that sits on the BC Law Society
Discipline Review Board. I was quite confused how the BC Attorney General’s
Office could condone a lawyer breaching a court order. I am still seeking an
answer to that question.
It is my understanding that the BC Attorney General goal is to enforce the
Laws of British Columbia. I understood that BC Legal Profession Act is the
governing statute for the BC Law Society and failure to comply with the Act
is a failure to comply with the wishes of Parliament which would be a
failure to comply with the wishes of the people in a democracy. The people
would therefore be offended by a breach of the Act which like a breach of
the Motor Vehicle Act require a consequence or be meaningless.
In this regard I do not understand this statement in your letter “It is
completely independent of government and has the right and responsibility to
administer the Legal Profession Act.”. What happens if the BC Law Society
fails to administer the Legal Profession Act? It is then the Government’s
responsibility to enforce the Act – which is why I have contacted your
I did look a little closer at the British Columbia Legal Profession Act
particularly under Enforcement – Section 85. This line caught my eye
(4) Section 5 of the Offence Act does not apply to this Act or to the rules.
5 A person who contravenes an enactment by doing an act that it forbids, or omitting to do an act that it requires to be done, commits an offence against the enactment.
So it seems that the Legal Profession Act is not enforceable in itself against the Law Society and whilst the Society may purport to have certain responsibilities there is absolutely nothing to enforce those responsibilities and no intention on their part to do so. I’m not sure what member of Parliament acting on the people’s behalf would authorize such an Act.
I had taken my complaint to the Nelson City Police and they referred me to the Law Society even though there were criminal matters involved they refused to become involved. So, when does a lawyer become responsible for a crime?
The reality is that the Law Society Act conflicts with the Charter and the Rule of Law. It’s unconstitutional and has no force or effect but it’s unlikely that any Judge would rule against it due to their conflict of interest.
Of course it reminds me of Montesquieu who wrote about the concept of separation of powers as a tool for the protection against abuse of powers of the State.
“All would be lost if the same man or the same body of principals, or of nobles, or of the people, exercised these three powers: that of making laws, that of executing public resolutions, and that of judging crimes or disputes between individuals.”
Montesquieu, The Spirit of Law