Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Failure of Lawyer Davies Bagambiire to pay rent resulting in eviction is not professional misconduct Law Society Says

By Selwyn A. Pieters
Barrister, Solicitor & Notary Public

On June 01, 2010, a Notice of Application was issued by the Law Society of Upper Canada alleging seven counts of professional misconduct against Davies Bagambiire, a sole practitioner immigration and refugee lawyer who is practicising criminal law in the singular case of R. v. Aziga. A hearing was held from December 14 - 17, 2010. Mr. Davies Bagambiire's Law Society of Upper Canada hearing was completed with findings of professional misconduct relating to one of his clients T.F. for which he served a one month suspension.

The other counts relating to the conduct of his business at 372 Bay Street in Toronto was dismissed for lack of jurisdiction over a lawyers' failure to pay his rent that resulted in the eviction of him and his sub-tenants. This is how I learn of the eviction from him:

From: daviesbagambiire@bell.blackberry.net [mailto:daviesbagambiire@bell.blackberry.net]
Sent: Tuesday, August 5, 2008 01:36 PMTo: 'Selwyn Pieters'
Subject: Office Issue with LL 

I have a serious issue with the landlord as I told you a few weeks ago. Please send me an email or call me ASAP. I also wanted you to review the Application record for tommorrow before hand. Please call me on my cell (416) 577-3277. db Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device

My comments reflecting on the LSUC reasons are below:

1) As a complainant in LSUC matters I have no standing. I am a witnesses, that's it.

2) Here Mr. Bagambiire "accumulated approximately $18,000 of arrears in rent for his law office" para 25

3) The lawyer argued that "the Law Society should not be punishing lawyers for their poverty, that the rules were not designed to punish lawyers for being under financial strain and simply not having sufficient money to pay rent." para. 26

4) Zeynep Onen, Director of Professional Regulation at the Law Society, spoke with the Complainant to tell him “it was more a commercial or civil matter rather than an ethical matter.” para 27

5) The LSUC panel concluded that "being in arrears with the payment of office rent did not constitute professional misconduct. To hold otherwise would potentially be to subject a large swath of financially precarious practitioners to disciplinary suspension in economically distraught times." para 28

6) "The Law Society’s allegations set out in Particulars 4 and 5 were not proven. Specifically, the Society failed to prove that the Lawyer’s failure to make monthly rental payments for his office constituted a failure to honour the financial obligations of his practice, contrary to Rule 6.01(2) of the Rules of Professional Conduct. Secondly, the Society failed to prove that the Lawyer acted dishonourably and without integrity contrary to Rule 6.01(1) of the Rules of Professional Conduct, based on failing to notify his sub-tenant, lawyer Selwyn Pieters, that he had not made the monthly rental payments and that this could result in a lockout by the landlord, or by accepting but failing to remit Selwyn Pieters’ sublease payments to the landlord."

7) We are all accountable for our actions and inactions as lawyers. Mr. Bagambiire because of my complaint was required to account for his conduct that led to the consequences which it did on August 05, 2008.

8) Bagambiire in the 2011 decision in which this lockout was mentioned was suspended for one month and required to pay restitution of $5000.00 to a client Teresa Figura payable by June 30, 2011.

9) Bagambiire is a repeat offender: See, Law Society of Upper Canada v. Davies Bagambiire, 2008 ONLSHP 70 (The Lawyer is suspended for two months, commencing March 1, 2008. Upon return to practice, the Lawyer shall be supervised for a period of two years) and See also, Re Bagambiire Formal Hearing Panel Decision, N.S.B.S. 43, November 15, 1990.

10) As mentioned earlier, in LSUC disciplinary matters, a complainant is not a party. In this case I had nothing to gain or lose here. Anyways, the decision is instructive to other lawyers dealing with persons like the lawyer in this case to simply sue civilly or call in the police when such issues arise. The law society is not the forum.

11) The Law Society Lawyer Andrea Waltman did an excellent job under difficult circumstances, as the Tribunal was inclined from the get go to the views in para 27 of its decision.

12) I wish Mr. Bagambiire well and hope his financial and other affairs are in order. He has been practising law for 25 years. I know him since 1994. I was a client of his in 1995 - 1996. For Mr. Bagambiire to really get into the situation like that without even believing that he had to tell his sub-tenants, particularly me, is puzzling. However, life goes on and on it did with me.

13) I currently practices law in downtown Toronto at Pieters Law Office, Adelaide Place, DBRS Tower,  where about 25 independent lawyers share space and resources in a professional office setting not unlike that of a medium-sized law firm. So quite frankly, despite the stress, frustration and humiliation, that situation caused, and I have not really spoken to many people about it because I was ashamed that I became part of a lockout, like I did something bad, things worked out for the better for me.

14) I am quite happy where I am at and with the people with whom I now share space. That god for his kindness and great mercies.

See also, Michael McKiernan "Taxing Aziga case sparks lawyers’ spat" Law Times, July 25, 2011



Sunday, July 10, 2011

J.B. and C.F. v. Toronto District School Board

By Selwyn A. Pieters
Lawyer and Notary Public

This is a case discrimination case based on race and racial stereotyping that I have been litigating from December 2005. Six years later the Emery Collegiate case winds its way through the Human Rights Tribunal for Ontario. There has been numerous tactics of TDSB lawyers that generated several decisions in J.B. and C.F. v. Toronto District School Board: 2011 HRTO 1304; 2011 HRTO 1162; 2011 HRTO 994; 2010 HRTO 1228; 2009 HRTO 1030 (CanLII); B. (K.) (Litigation Guardian of) v. Toronto District School Board; 2008 CarswellOnt 455 (SCJ).

Closing arguments were concluded on July 21, 2011 and the decision is reserved. A written decision will be received sometime in the future.