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Discipline Decision 2006

http://www.canlii.org/en/nl/nlls/doc/2006/2006canlii45390/2006canlii45390.html

SUMMARY

On December 8, 2006, pursuant to section 46(3) of the Law Society Act, 1999, an Adjudication Panel of the Discipline Committee of the Law Society found W. Leslie Thistle of Mount Pearl, NL, guilty of conduct deserving of sanction.

The Complaint alleged that Mr. Thistle failed to comply with the rule in Chapter II of the Code of Professional Conduct respecting competence and quality of service.

The matter proceeded by way of an Agreed Statement of Facts and Mr. Thistle entered a guilty plea.

The Adjudication Panel decided that Mr. Thistle had breached a rule of conduct respecting quality of service in that he failed to advise his client, for a period of twelve (12) months, that a Court decision had been rendered.

By Order of the Adjudication Panel dated December 8, 2006, Mr. Thistle was reprimanded and ordered to pay one half of the expenses incurred by the Law Society in the hearing of the Complaint.  The Adjudication Panel also ordered that the decision and order be published in accordance with the Law Society Rules.

 

Discipline Decision 2011

http://www.canlii.org/en/nl/nlls/doc/2011/2011canlii43641/2011canlii43641.html

SUMMARY

An Adjudication Tribunal of the Disciplinary Panel of the Law Society found W. Les Thistle of Mount Pearl, NL, guilty of conduct deserving of sanction pursuant to section 50(3) of the Law Society Act, 1999.

The Complaint alleged that Mr. Thistle failed to comply with the Law Society Rules respecting trust accounts and the supervision of legal assistants, failed to act with integrity, failed to provide a proper quality of service, failed in his duty when advising clients, failed to act with impartiality and to avoid conflict of interest between clients, failed to avoid a conflict of interest between lawyer and client, failed in his duty respecting outside interests and practice of law, failed in his responsibility respecting the lawyer as advocate, failed in his responsibility to lawyers individually, failed to avoid practice by unauthorized persons, failed to avoid questionable conduct, and failed to follow the Practice Standard re: disclosure of conflict of interest.

The matter proceeded by way of an Agreed Statement of Facts.

The Adjudication Tribunal stated:

The essence of a professional responsibility is that the lawyer must act at all times with utmost good faith to the Court, to the Client, to other lawyers, and to members of the public.  The lawyer who would enjoy the respect and confidence of the community as well as of other members of the legal profession must strive to maintain the highest possible degree of ethical conduct.

The Adjudication Tribunal determined that Mr. Thistle did not act with integrity and did not act with the competence and quality of service that the general public, clients, other lawyers and the Court expect.

 

The Adjudication Tribunal Ordered that:

(i) The Respondent is reprimanded;

(ii)  The Respondent pay Fines of $2,000.00 for each of the four (4) complaints for a total of $8,000.00, to be paid to the Law Society within 90 days of the date of service of this decision on the Respondent;

(iii)  The Respondent send letters of apology to the clients, in a form to be approved by the Legal Director of the Law Society, within 30 days of the date of service of this decision on the Respondent;

(iv)  The Respondent pay to the Law Society the expense incurred by the Law Society in the investigation and hearing of the complaint within 90 days of service of this decision on the Respondent;

(v)  The Decision and Order be published in accordance with Rule 9.28 of the Law Society Rules and the Law Society’s Publication Policy; and

(vi)  The Decision and Order shall take effect upon service on the Respondent, in accordance with Rule 9.14 of the Law Society Rules.

 

Discipline Decision 2013

http://www.canlii.org/en/nl/nlls/doc/2013/2013canlii39733/2013canlii39733.html

SUMMARY

TAKE NOTICE THAT an Adjudication Tribunal of the Disciplinary Panel of the Law Society of Newfoundland and Labrador, having conducted a hearing pursuant to the Law Society Act, 1999, found W. Leslie Thistle of Mount Pearl, Newfoundland and Labrador, guilty of conduct deserving of sanction.  The Adjudication Tribunal found Mr. Thistle’s conduct falls within the ambit of the Code of Professional Conduct rules in Chapters I, II, III, V and XIX.  Specifically, the Adjudication Tribunal found that Mr. Thistle failed to act with integrity, failed to provide a proper quality of service, failed in his duty when advising a client, failed to act with impartiality and to avoid conflict of interest between clients and failed to avoid questionable conduct.

The Adjudication Tribunal Ordered, inter alia, that Mr. Thistle be reprimanded, provide a letter of apology to the client and pay a fine in the amount of $5,000.  The Order of the Adjudication Tribunal is appended.

 

Discipline Decision 2016

https://www.canlii.org/en/nl/nlls/doc/2016/2016canlii107452/2016canlii107452.html

SUMMARY

TAKE NOTICE THAT an Adjudication Tribunal of the Disciplinary Panel of the Law Society of Newfoundland and Labrador, pursuant to the Law Society Act, 1999, found W. Leslie Thistle of Mount Pearl, NL guilty of conduct deserving of sanction. The Adjudication Tribunal found that Mr. Thistle is guilty of failure to comply with Chapters I, III, V, VI and XIX of the Code. The Tribunal found Mr. Thistle not guilty of failure to comply with Chapters II and VII of the Code. The Respondent is guilty of conduct deserving sanction, within the meaning of the Law Society Act, 1999, c. L-9.1.

Excerpts from the Adjudication Tribunal’s Decision dated April 7, 2016 follow:

I.F. approached Mr. Thistle in January, 2007 to provide legal services to X. Resorts Inc. in connection with a proposed purchase from B.P. Ltd. and other matters. … It was a breach of the Code for Mr. Thistle not to advise I.F. of the potential conflict and his need for independent legal advice arising from his role as lawyer, as well as Shareholder, Director and/or creditor of X. Resorts Inc.

The Letter of Intent dated March 14, 2007 contained terms that suggested the potential for a conflict of interest between Mr. Thistle and I.F., including reference to an arbitration clause to resolve disputes, a shareholder agreement and a non-competition agreement. Mr. Thistle drafted the Letter of Intent having regard to protection of his own interests.

The Commentary in paragraph 4 of Chapter V states that the lawyer should avoid a debtor-creditor relationship with a client. Mr. Thistle’s advance of money initially to X. Resorts Inc. created such a relationship. … The advance of funds to his client and failure to arrange adequate documentation was a violation of Chapter VI of the Code and also Chapter XIX of the Code, failure to observe the rules in spirit as well as letter.

Mr. Thistle was also in a conflict of interest with respect to X. Enterprises Inc. Mr. Thistle drafted an Agreement in June, 2009 having regard to his own interests. At that time he had invested over $200,000.00 in the companies. The draft Agreement referred to an arbitration clause, and other agreements that contemplated the potential of a conflict of interest.

Mr. Thistle, as lawyer for X. Enterprises Inc., filed Notice of Directors and Notice of Registered Office, to remove himself as a Director and add I.F. as Director, without instructions from I.F. in March, 2011. He acted in his personal interest in that regard. He had just been informed by Canada Revenue Agency that X. Enterprises Inc. had unpaid employee remittances, and he was concerned about his personal liability as Director. He did not inform I.F. about his filing of the Notice of Directors. In this instance, Mr. Thistle was in conflict of interest arising from his business transaction with his client. He used his position as lawyer to advance his personal interests.

The Adjudication Tribunal ordered, pursuant to subsection 50(3) of the Law Society Act, 1999 that:

(a) The Respondent, W. Leslie Thistle, be reprimanded.
(b) The Respondent, W. Leslie Thistle, be suspended for a period of 4 months to take effect commencing two months after the date of this Order.
(c) The Respondent, W. Leslie Thistle, shall pay 75% of the expenses incurred by the Law Society of Newfoundland and Labrador, in the amount to be determined by the Law Society, in the investigation and hearing of the complaint, up to the date of the decision of the Tribunal on April 7, 2016, payable within 6 months from the date of this Order; and the Law Society and the Respondent shall each pay 100% of their own expenses incurred for the hearing related to sanction.
(d) Publication will be in accordance with the Law Society Rules.
(e) The Decision and Order shall take effect upon service, in accordance with the Law Society Rule 9.14, except to the extent varied by this Order.

Discipline Decision 2016

https://www.canlii.org/en/nl/nlsctd/doc/2017/2017canlii86502/2017canlii86502.html

SUMMARY

TAKE NOTICE THAT an Adjudication Tribunal of the Disciplinary Panel of the Law Society of Newfoundland and Labrador, pursuant to the Law Society Act, 1999, found W. Leslie Thistle of Mount Pearl, NL guilty of conduct deserving of sanction. The Adjudication Tribunal determined that Mr. Thistle failed to act with integrity, failed to be both honest and candid when advising clients and failed to use reasonable efforts to ensure that the client comprehends the lawyer’s advice and recommendations, failed not to advise or represent both sides of a dispute and not act or continue to act in a matter where there is or is likely to be a conflicting interest, and failed to avoid questionable conduct.

An excerpt from the Adjudication Tribunal’s Decision dated March 10, 2016 follows:

Given the nature and gravity of Mr. Thistle’s conduct in this case the Adjudication Tribunal views the need to maintain the public’s confidence in the integrity of the legal profession as the paramount one given its findings in this case. In this regard, Mr. Thistle knew or ought to have known that he was in breach of his professional obligations regarding a conflict of interest between clients and knew or ought to have known that the result of placing the mortgage to allow JM and DM to obtain money by utilizing the guise of a legitimate arms-length mortgage was directly in contravention of the rules of Self Directed Retirement Savings Plans permitted by the Canada Revenue Agency. His behavior was and is not behavior that would engender or maintain the public’s confidence in the integrity of the legal profession. That his conduct deserves sanction is beyond question. The question the Adjudication Tribunal is left with is what should be the nature and level of sanction imposed by it upon Mr. Thistle.

On appeal by Mr. Thistle to the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador, Trial Division, the Court upheld the Adjudication Tribunal’s Decision.

An excerpt from the decision of the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador follows:

Overall they [Tribunal] present a well-reasoned, transparent and intelligible analysis of the facts and issues relevant to an appropriate sanction. They further display an appreciation of the appropriate legal considerations in the disciplinary context. Noteably, in reading its decision on sanction the Tribunal was alive to the fact that the fundamental purpose of the sanctioning process is the protection of the public and to maintain a high degree of confidence in the legal profession (Juneja).

The Adjudication Tribunal ordered, pursuant to subsection 50(3) of the Law Society Act, 1999 that:

(i) W. Leslie Thistle is hereby reprimanded under paragraph 50(3)(a);
(ii) W. Leslie Thistle is hereby reprimanded under paragraph 50(3)(b) and that specifically, Mr. Thistle be suspended from the practice of law for a period of thirty (30) days;
(iii) W. Leslie Thistle is hereby reprimanded under paragraph 50(3)(m) and that the Law Society publish a summary of the Adjudication Tribunal’s decision, including the information set out in subsection 51(4);
(iv) W. Leslie Thistle shall be required to pay eighty (80%) of the costs incurred by the Law Society related to the hearing of Part I of the Complaint;
(v) W. Leslie Thistle be given a period of six months in which to pay the Law Society’s costs.