Retired Victoria lawyer disbarred for misappropriating clients funds

Retired Victoria lawyer disbarred for misappropriating clients funds
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The Law Society of B.C. sign outside of its offices on Cambie Street in Vancouver.

A Victoria lawyer who retired in June 2020 has been disbarred after a law society tribunal ruled that he misappropriated clients’ funds.

The Law Society of B.C. Tribunal found that Lindsay Adam Christopher Ross had misappropriated funds; misled clients, a fellow lawyer and the Law Society; acted in a conflict of interest; and facilitated a breach of a trust agreement.

“He did all of these for his own personal benefit and to conceal his misconduct,” Gillian Dougans writes in the tribunal ruling on behalf of the panel. “His misconduct falls at the most serious end of the scale.”

Ross was first called to the bar of Alberta in 1988, then admitted as a member of the Law Society of B.C. in 1989. He retired on June 5, 2020, then was suspended from practice on July 13, 2020.

The issue began when he was representing his wife, his cousin and his cousin’s husband to buy and sell properties in Sproat Lake in 2003.

When purchasing a property, the cousin and her husband were misled about the purchase amount, then again in 2012 when the property was sold and Ross kept the proceeds and used them to pay off his own wife’s mortgage and line of credit.

The couple did not receive the owed money until July 2015, when the cousin’s husband hired a lawyer to start legal action and garnishment proceedings.

In May 2012, the misappropriation of funds occurred when he misled a client into giving him $100,000 by telling him it was “good faith money” as part of a project.

In order to repay this client, he misappropriated the same amount from another client “which had the effect of concealing the first misappropriation.”

“The Respondent is a senior lawyer who is very experienced in complex commercial transactions. His misconduct did not occur as a result of him practising law in new or unfamiliar areas,” Dougans writes.

“In fact, the Respondent clearly used his clients’ trust and reliance on him and his expertise to mislead them and hide the use he was making of their money. This is a highly aggravating factor.”

The tribunal ruled that the Law Society would be owed costs associated with the hearing, which comes to a total of $49,075, and that Ross, the former Victoria lawyer, is to be disbarred immediately.

Laura BroughamLaura Brougham

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