A disbarred lawyer in hot water for creating fake court orders in his client’s favour must now pay $10,000 in costs to the Law Society of Upper Canada.
The Law Society Tribunal issued the costs order in its detailed reasons released on June 18 for its decision to disbar Mississauga, Ont., lawyer Brian Nicholson.
Besides ordering costs, the reasons shed more light on the facts of Nicholson’s case. According to the reasons, Nicholson misled his clients in five litigation files. The principal client, identified in Law Society of Upper Canada v. Nicholson as R.D., had become a friend of the lawyer while he was at a previous firm. In 2012, Nicholson issued a statement of claim on behalf of R.D.’s company in relation to a business dispute but never served it on the defendant or took any other steps to pursue the claim, according to panel chairwoman Susan Opler.
After Nicholson told his client the court had granted an injunction in the case, he claimed to have brought a number of contempt motions resulting in orders that the defendant pay R.D.’s company $3 million in damages as well as $3 million in fines. Over a one-year period, Nicholson “forged 13 orders or endorsements of the Superior Court or the Court of Appeal, in the names of six sitting judges,” wrote Opler.
Other litigation files included a Small Claims Court matter in which Nicholson provided R.D. with a fake statement of defence and a forged endorsement of a judge. He also told R.D. the defendant had failed to adhere to a court order and had gone to jail as a result. “This was untrue,” wrote Opler, who noted Nicholson ended up paying his client $25,000 to cover any possible award he might have recovered and reimbursement of legal fees.
In a third matter, Nicholson told R.D. he had obtained default judgment in a case alleging a breach of contract and a non-disclosure agreement. According to Opler, he admitted to his client he hadn’t taken steps in the matter.
In a fourth case, Nicholson told R.D. the other party had admitted negligence and provided him with a fake court order with the signature of a sitting judge, Opler noted.
The final case involved an aviation company in which Nicholson told the company he had brought an unopposed motion for summary judgment that resulted in an order in May 2013. The client later learned Nicholson hadn’t brought any action. Nicholson charged the client more than $3,600 for his work on an action that never began, according to Opler.
In arguing the tribunal should allow him to surrender his licence, Nicholson noted, among other things, that his actions weren’t for his personal benefit. He also noted his personal difficulties, R.D.’s “unrealistic expectations,” and his fears about a “potentially threatening situation.”
The panel, however, rejected his request to be able to surrender his licence. “The Lawyer’s misconduct profoundly breached the trust that his clients, the legal system and the public had placed in him,” wrote Opler.
“It could only threaten the public’s trust in all lawyers. The public interest, and the need for public confidence in the legal profession, demand that the Lawyer’s licence be revoked.”
For more, see "Lawyer disbarred for writing fake orders."
The results of the latest Law Times online poll are in.
According to the poll, 63 per cent of respondents would like to see campaign spending limits for candidates in Law Society of Upper Canada bencher elections.
The poll follows a recent letter to the editor in Law Times from candidate Jay Chauhan in which he called for spending limits.
“The fact that there are no limits placed on campaign spending works in favour of large firms,” he wrote.