Drama at the Quebec Bar Escalates Into Legal Action

The suspended Bâtonnière of the Quebec Bar Association, Lu Chan Khuong, has filed a lawsuit against the association and its administrators to overturn the suspension and reinstate her until the court determines whether the association’s board of directors had the right to relieve her of her duty. (Find the background here on Slaw.) Khuong is also seeking $95,000 in damages.

And of course, the Quebec Bar is vigorously defending its position with allegations of damage to the institution’s reputation and the reputation of its directors and officers.

In addition, the board has convened an ad hoc committee on ethics and governance to review the actions of Khuong and of the board itself.

Furthermore, members of the Bar have requested by petition an extraordinary general assembly of the Quebec Bar over Khuong’s suspension and to take stock of the current situation. The secretary of the board has called such an assembly on August 24 starting at 5:30 p.m. at the Sheraton Laval.

What I find amazing in all of this, is how this situation between a professional order and one of its members is being played out in the media with both parties using newspapers to air out their grievances, accusing each other of leaking confidential information and acting unprofessionally. Khuong claims conspiracies and that the board visibly does not accept her victory as president of the bar association.

What is perplexing to me is how, knowing the position of trust she already held at the bar association, the language of our Code of Professional Conduct of Lawyers (Code de déontologie des avocats), and her future aspirations, Khuong never thought it was important to disclose to the association about the “incident” (the alleged theft) and deferred the charges to avoid the hassle of defending herself when she vehemely denies ever stealing.

She also apparently never thought that if this incident ever became known to the public, this situation would have an impact on her character or credibility to hold such a position. How many politicians or public figures have had their careers destroyed by such similar incidents? She is a public figure and aspired to hold the highest position at the bar association, with a mandate to protect the interest of the public.

She claims the incident was a distraction due to stress. Maybe so, but I don’t think this excuse would work for any of her other colleagues. I have seen lawyers reprimanded or disbarred for less!

Regarding the aforementioned lawsuit, a hearing was scheduled on July 29 in Quebec City. However, a stay of proceeding occurred so that both parties participate in a conference settlement which will be chaired by the Honourable Justice François Rolland. In the meantime, both parties intend to withhold public comments and their discussions to remain confidential (for now).

Comments

  1. It’s interesting that no one has brought up the case of the former Chief Justice of the Quebec Superior Court, Lyse Lemieux, who promptly resigned in 2004 after being charged with driving while impaired (after allegedly hitting a piece of road equipment).

    I’ve found very little record of this story still online. Here is a copy of a Canadian Press release that quotes Beverley McLachlin and Quebec Superior Court Associate Chief Justice Robert Pidgeon:

    http://theresaallore.com/2004/08/355/

  2. Very a propos! thanks Chris for the link,