A Squamish lawayer has been fined $10,000 by the Law Society of BC for failing to advance a client’s file for five years.
Douglas Chiasson was fined $10,000 along with $1,000 in costs for failing to advance the client’s file, to answer reasonable requests for information, provide the client with progress updates, or make all reasonable efforts to provide prompt service to the client.
The client was an alleged victim of sexual assault and this was the only sexual assault file the lawyer had ever taken on, according to the decision by the law society.
In 2013, the client met with the lawyer to discuss a civil claim for sexual assault and instructed him to commence the claim. The lawyer advised the client that the claim should be brought in small claims court but did not advise the client on any possible attendant employment or human rights issues.
For five years, the client continued to follow up with the lawyer with increasing frustration and urgency. The lawyer took no substantive steps on the client’s file and did not answer the client’s reasonable requests for information, according to the decision.
The client then complained to the Law Society, following which the lawyer agreed that the client communicated with him, but he failed to respond to the client’s requests and also failed to engage and act on the client’s behalf.
He has now sent a personal apology and returned the $1,130 retainer to the client. The lawyer admitted his conduct constituted professional misconduct, and said he was apologetic to the Law Society and “wholeheartedly embarrassed” by his inaction on the file.
“I procrastinated on this file and did not follow up with the client when I found myself incapable of handling the matter. In retrospect I ought to have returned the retainer then and suggested she approach new counsel to take on her matter. I can offer no excuses for my actions,” he said.