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Monday, September 21, 2015

PENALTY DECISION RESERVED IN REFUGEE CASE

The Law Society Tribunal has reserved its decision on the penalty for a Mississauga, Ont., lawyer found to have engaged in professional misconduct for failing to serve her refugee clients.

Earlier this month, the hearing division made the misconduct findings against Jaszi Erzsebet, a lawyer retained in 2011 to assist G.I., a Roma refugee claimant, and her children. After meeting with the lawyer to sign the required personal information forms for the claim, Erzsebet failed to submit them to the Immigration and Refugee Board on time, according to the decision. While Erzsebet submitted them following an abandonment hearing in May 2011, G.I. received notice that they were incomplete, the ruling written by panel chairwoman Barbara Murchie noted. In considering Erzsebet’s actions, the panel found she didn’t prepare the family’s forms and “prosecute their applications to the standards of a competent lawyer.” There was no reference, for example, to alleged domestic abuse suffered by G.I., Murchie noted.

For her part, Erzsebet disagreed that the forms were incomplete and noted it was possible to amend them later with G.I. able to expand on her story when testifying before the board. The panel, however, found she had engaged in professional misconduct that included overbilling Legal Aid Ontario for time spent on preparing the forms.

The findings follow a July 29 decision from the tribunal that dealt with the Law Society of Upper Canada’s allegations of professional misconduct in relation to her representation of eight Roma refugee families during the 2009-11 period. The panel found she had engaged in professional misconduct in that case as well.

After a hearing last week, the panel reserved its decision on the penalty.

For more, see "Another lawyer in hot water over service to refugee claimants."

NEW PARTNER AT GOWLINGS

Usman Sheikh has joined Gowling Lafleur Henderson LLP as a partner in its commercial litigation and class actions groups.

Previously a lawyer at Bennett Jones LLP, Sheikh focuses on securities litigation, professional liability claims, class proceedings, and corporate commercial litigation. He advises in areas including securities enforcement, cross-border litigation, white-collar defence, shareholder activism, mergers and acquisitions disputes, and oppression remedy claims. Prior to his time at Bennett Jones, he worked as a prosecutor in the enforcement branch of the Ontario Securities Commission.

“Usman is a rising litigation star with exceptional advocacy skills and an impressive background in securities law,” said Scott Jolliffe, Gowlings’ chairman and chief executive officer.

POLL RESULTS

The results of the latest Law Times online poll are in.

Amid the growing controversy over Canada’s handling of the Syrian refugee issue, a majority of respondents think the federal government isn’t doing enough to assist people seeking to escape the troubled country. According to the poll, 62 per cent of respondents think Canada needs to significantly increase the number of government-sponsored refugees and remove barriers to private sponsorships. A further 38 per cent of participants think Canada is already doing a lot to help refugees from the Middle East, fight the Islamic State, and provide humanitarian assistance.

The poll comes as the Syrian refugee issue has risen to prominence in the federal election campaign. The Conservatives have touted their plan to bring in thousands of people from both Syria and Iraq in the next couple of years and, more recently, announced the government would match donations from Canadians for humanitarian assistance. Critics and opposition parties, however, have emphasized the need to speed up the process, remove administrative barriers, and accept more refugees.  

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