Discipline Decision – 1991
Several complaints were laid concerning the conduct of Collins as a lawyer. It was alleged that he failed without reasonable explanation to:
- ) answer reasonable requests from “Client A” for information,
- ) respond to Client A’s telephone calls,
- ) pursue an action on behalf of Client A within the proper time, and
- ) respond to Client A’s requests respecting settlement of a claim and to advise Client A generally.
- ) advise “Client B” truthfully respecting the status of the client’s claim, and
- ) honour a settlement which had been reached with a new solicitor.
- ) file an appeal in a timely manner or at all on behalf of “Client C”,
- ) request a bail hearing after undertaking to do so, and
- ) respond to Client C’s reasonable requests for information in a prompt fashion.
- ) It was also alleged that Collins arranged to have Client C sign three blank sheets of paper without explaining to the Client for what purpose the documents would be used.
- ) answer reasonable requests from “Client D” for information,
- ) respond to Client D’s telephone calls in a prompt manner,
- ) advise Client D properly of his legal rights in a professional manner, and
- ) settle the action or advise his client of the impossibility of settlement.
- abide by an escrow condition imposed on him by another lawyer.
In relation to each of these complaints, it was also alleged that Collins had failed to respond to reasonable requests for information from the Law Society.
Evidence was entered before the hearing of the Discipline Panel by way of Agreed Statement of Facts. The Panel recommended that Collins be found guilty of professional misconduct on all counts. The Panel stated that “a very serious problem exists in the Respondent’s practice, namely:
- ) a failure to provide attention to client requirements;
- ) a failure to candidly and honestly advise clients;
- ) a failure by the member to see and address the problems in his practice;
- ) a failure to honour commitments, financial and otherwise, arising from his practice and thereby preserve the integrity of himself and his profession; and,
- ) a failure to respond properly to the need for his Society to obtain information to govern itself.
Benchers found that there were 9 commissions of professional misconduct as alleged. They resolved that Collins be permitted to elect non-practising status for a minimum period of three months, during which he must consult with his psychiatrist on a weekly basis, or, alternatively be suspended for a period of three months. In either case, at the end of the three month period, Collins would have to provide to Benchers a letter from his psychiatrist stating he is fit to resume practice and a letter from a psychiatrist of the Law Society’s choosing stating that he is fit to resume practice. He was ordered to pay the $600.00 which he undertook to pay to Client A, $2,600.00 to Client B and $2,500.00 to Client D. Collins would also have to pay the costs of the Law Society in the hearing of the complaints. Once the lawyer resumed active practice, he would be subject to any supervisory and practice auditing provisions which Benchers might require.