Discipline Decision – 1989
Burke was retained by Mr. and Mrs. A. to pursue a claim arising out of the death of her son. It was alleged that the lawyer advised his clients that a Writ had been issued, when in fact this was not the case. The other ground of complaint was that Burke did not return telephone calls from the clients.
In the Agreed Statement of Facts, the lawyer admitted that the claim was not properly handled, in that he had enlisted the assistance of a junior in his office to handle the claim but had not followed up with the junior to determine what progress had been made.
Benchers found the lawyer guilty of professional misconduct for the mishandling of the claim of the clients, in that he did not communicate with them despite repeated requests for information, and that he misrepresented the status of their action. Benchers resolved to formally reprimand Burke, and directed that he write a letter of apology to Mrs. A. and pay the costs incurred by the Law Society in relation to the complaint.
Discipline Decision – 1993
It was complained that Thomas Burke had failed, without reasonable explanation, to answer reasonable requests from his client for information, respond to his client’s telephone calls, pursue an action on behalf of his client within a reasonable and proper time, and candidly advise his client of the true status of his client’s action. After a hearing into the complaint, the Panel of the Discipline Committee found that:
1. ) Over a period of several years and on many occasions, Burke failed to answer reasonable requests from his client for information and failed to respond to his client’s telephone calls,
2. ) By failing to take any action after issuing the client’s Statement of Claim, the lawyer failed to pursue action on behalf of his client within reasonable and proper time,
3. ) Burke failed to candidly advise his client of the true status of her action,
4. ) The lawyer knowingly withheld information as to the status of the client’s claim and the progress of the action, and
5. ) He knowingly misled the client by falsely stating that her matter was on the court’s hearing list.
Benchers agreed that the lawyer should be found guilty of professional misconduct. They fined him $5,000.00, ordered that he pay the Law Society’s costs of the hearing, and ordered that he meet with the Treasurer of the Law Society in order to review Benchers’ concerns that this was the second disciplinary action taken against the lawyer and to offer appropriate assistance to the lawyer.