Home Legal News Ontario lawyer suspended indefinitely for failing to co-operate in sex-for-services complaint

Ontario lawyer suspended indefinitely for failing to co-operate in sex-for-services complaint

by HR Law Canada

An Ontario lawyer has been suspended from practice indefinitely until he fully complies with an investigation into alleged misconduct that included offering legal services in exchange for sexual favours.

The Law Society of Ontario started an investigation into JB after a former client filed a complaint in September 2022, alleging both the offer for sex and that he engaged in inappropriate conversations.

Despite several requests by the Law Society between November 2022 and January 2023, JB failed to produce information and documents. At a summary hearing of the Law Society of Ontario’s Tribunal Hearing Division, JB was represented by counsel but did not attend in person — and provided no explanation for his absence.

Finding of non-cooperation

The Law Society’s affidavit evidence, which remained uncontested, indicated that the investigator requested information and documents related to the investigation, including written representations on the regulatory issues raised against JB.

Despite repeated requests, JB failed to respond adequately and completely to the investigator’s inquiries, leading to a finding of non-cooperation with the investigation.

The tribunal referred to Rule 7.1-1 of the Rules of Professional Conduct, which requires lawyers to promptly and fully respond to communications from the Law Society, highlighting the importance of cooperation in maintaining public trust in the self-regulatory process of the legal profession.

Previous discipline for similar conduct

Moreover, the ruling revealed that JB had previously faced disciplinary action in December 2022 for similar misconduct — failing to respond promptly and completely to communications from the Law Society in three separate investigations.

He remained suspended from that misconduct, and was ordered to pay $5,000 in costs. (See Law Society of Ontario v. Bowie2023 ONLSTH 16).

The tribunal noted that penalties should be consistent, and that a second instance in which a lawyer has failed to respond to Law Society requests by the date of the summary hearing is most often met with an indefinite suspension followed by a two-month definite suspension.

JB did advise the Law Society that he was ill, but did not provide any evidence to support his claim.

“His recent discipline for a failure to respond to the Law Society is cause for concern,” it said, in issuing the indefinite suspension.


Regarding costs, the Law Society sought $5,000 for its investigation and disciplinary proceedings. JB acknowledged the reasonableness of this amount but requested a reduction due to his current suspension affecting his earnings.

However, the tribunal declined to relieve him of the obligation to pay the costs, emphasizing that lawyers’ financial burdens associated with misconduct investigations should not fall on the legal profession. He was ordered to pay the amount on or before the deadline of July 15, 2024.

Furthermore, JB is required to comply fully with the Law Society’s Guidelines for Lawyers Who Are Suspended or Who Have Given an Undertaking Not to Practise during the suspension period.

For more information, see Law Society of Ontario v. Bowie, 2023 ONLSTH 94 (CanLII).

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