Administrative law – Decisions of administrative tribunals – Law Societies – Barristers and solicitors – Professional misconduct / conduct unbecoming – Penalties and suspensions – Disbarment – Restoration of membership – Judicial review – Standard of review – Reasonableness simpliciter
Anhang v Law Society of Manitoba,  M.J. No. 196, 2014 MBQB 140, Manitoba Court of Queen’s Bench, June 30, 2014, D.J. McCawley J.
The Applicant, Abraham Anhang, was called to the Manitoba bar in 1964 and then practised law for approximately 36 years. In 2002, he voluntarily withdrew from practice in response to a practice audit conducted by the Respondent, the Law Society of Manitoba.
The Law Society’s practice audit found that, in 2000, Mr. Anhang received shares intended for his clients and transferred them to his own corporation without advising his clients. Mr. Anhang also paid his corporation a fee of $246,460 without advising his clients. In addition, Mr. Anhang lied to one of his clients when they asked about receiving a lesser amount than expected. The practice audit also found other transfers of concern.
After voluntarily withdrawing from practice, Mr. Anhang was disbarred in 2002. The disciplinary hearing panel found there were no special or exceptional circumstances to explain Mr. Anhang’s conduct.
In November 2011, Mr. Anhang applied to the Law Society for reinstatement as a member of the Law Society. In doing so, he specifically undertook not to apply for a practising certificate. His application for reinstatement was heard on September 10, 2012 by a panel of the Law Society’s discipline committee (the “Panel”). He told the Panel he wanted reinstatement because he wanted “closure” and because he wanted his grandchildren to see he had a clean record if they ever researched his career. Mr. Anhang was asked about his conduct and described it as “sloppy”.
The Panel found that Mr. Anhang had not demonstrated genuine remorse for the conduct and he was trying to justify his prior egregious conduct. The Panel considered a modified version of the “Watt” test because Mr. Anhang was not going to be practising law. The panel refused Mr. Anhang’s request for reinstatement.
Mr. Anhang applied for judicial review of the Panel’s decision. The standard of review was agreed to be reasonableness. Mr. Anhang argued the Panel did not reasonably reach the conclusions that lead to its decision to refuse reinstatement.
Mr. Anhang argued that the modified Watt test considered by the Panel was not reasonable and was not reasonably applied. The Court rejected this argument and held the Panel’s description of the test was reasonable and it was reasonably applied.
The Court dismissed Mr. Anhang’s application for judicial review.
This case was digested by Scott J. Marcinkow of Harper Grey LLP. If you would like to discuss this case further, please feel free to contact him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or review his biography at http://www.harpergrey.com.
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