Vancouver Lawyer Bills Client $50,000 For Exposing Deception
Law Society of British Columbia defends lawyer in court. No action taken to discipline lawyer.
CIS is a small business that made a contingency agreement with GY, a Vancouver lawyer, to represent the plaintiff in a commercial dispute at the Supreme Court of British Columbia. After signing what GY called "a standard contingency contract", GY forgot about the file, since he was too busy with his lucrative ICBC (traffic) cases.
After two years of inactivity CIS complained to the Law Society of British Columbia, the self-governing body that licenses and regulates the legal profession in British Columbia.
GY was upset about the complaint. He told CIS that the case was weak, and he was only an ICBC lawyer, but he did not want to resign or release CIS from the binding contract. He said he would work on the case, but CIS must withdraw its complaint from the Law Society.
After CIS withdrew the complaint GY attended 2 court hearings that were unsuccessful, and resulted in penalties against CIS. First penalty was on account of GY’s negligence in responding to a request by the opposition lawyer. Second hearing was lost because of the two-year delay and GY’s inability to apply the law correctly to the claim.
GY put the blame on corruption of the legal system, and lied to CIS about the real reasons why the judges had ruled against CIS. He told CIS that he was now going to settle the claim with the other side, although there was no settlement offer on the table.
CIS was shocked to discover the truth after looking at court documents posted on the Internet and listening to a recording of the hearings, and decided to confront GY with these findings in an email. Within 30 minutes of receiving the email GY sent CIS a form for self-representation and told him to sign it. He fired CIS as his client.
GY claimed that CIS had discharged him without his permission, and demanded $50,000 that he said represented his hourly legal fees. He’s now trying to have his $50,000 bill certified by the court under the procedural loopholes of the BC Legal Profession Act.
CIS complained to the Law Society of British Columbia again, and sued GY for negligence and breach of contract.
Although Law Society determined from indisputable evidence that GY had lied to his client, and to the Society, it decided not to pursue disciplinary action against the lawyer. Law Society hearings are conducted behind closed doors by lawyers that volunteer their services.
Society told CIS that it cannot use any of its documents as evidence in court. It said it doesn’t get involved in the public’s billing issues with lawyers, and disciplinary issues are an internal matter that doesn’t place any duty of care to a member of the public.
Society hired an experienced lawyer to defend GY against CIS’ claims in court. Under what would be considered an impermissible conflict of interest in any other civilised country, the Law Society of British Columbia administers the Lawyers’ Assurance Fund to defend lawyers in court against consumer claims.
In the Province that regulates funeral services and other small businesses, there is no consumer protection against bad lawyers. If you have a problem with a lawyer in British Columbia, and it may very well bankrupt you or your business, you may have to face the music yourself in court against a system that protects its own against the public.
In 2002 BC established a Justice Review Task Force that came up with recommendations in 2006. The recommendations were opposed by the Law Society of British Columbia, and have not been implemented.