A former Penticton lawyer was suspended and ordered to pay financial costs for misconduct while he was a practising lawyer.
The Law Society issued a press release on Tuesday that Charles Albas is suspended for four months and must pay $5,706.10 in fines.
Albas, who removed himself from practice prior to the decision, was found to have committed professional misconduct in relation to eight allegations. Those include borrowing money from clients on two occasions, providing legal services to clients when he had a direct or indirect financial interest in the subject matter of the legal services on two occasions, failing to disclose material facts to the court, failing to correct the record with respect to material facts he later discovered, misleading opposing counsel and failing to notify the Law Society of three judgement debts.
The Law Society stated Albas’ professional misconduct “is very serious.”
“In particular, he knowingly acted for two clients in securing loans in which he had an exclusive personal interest,” read the written reasons for disciplinary action.
Albas’ clients whom he borrowed money from were also friends and neighbours of his. The loan occurred in 2005 and involved purchase of property in Langley and ended in a court sale in 2012.
Read more: decisions of the hearing panel
The Law Society said Albas had practised law for nearly 40 years and was capable of recognizing the conflict of interest in this matter.
“Instead, he chose to exercise what he described as bad judgement to benefit personally at the expense of his client,” read the Law Society findings.
The clients lost significant funds and the report reveals they both are still owed $224,000 and $120,000 respectively. The panel noted that there is “virtually no chance these victims of the professional misconduct will ever be made whole.”
Albas told the panel he understood the depth of his wrongdoing and no longer has any confidence in his personal judgement, so he took himself out of practice as a lawyer. He said at the outset of the hearing that he is a broken man suffering from 10 years of chronic depression, has no means to pay anything and had to move communities because of shame. Albas also said he is “truly remorseful and feels a lot of shame and self-loathing.”
In the written reasons for disciplinary action, the Law Society stated that Albas did not take any issue with the hearing panel’s decision on the facts and determination.
“When pressed by the panel, the respondent took the position that a two-month suspension was appropriate and that there should be no order as to costs because of his personal bankruptcy and the impecunious state of his finances.”
Albas had previously been found of misconduct in 2015 and fined for preparing a will for a client and naming himself and his wife as beneficiaries. The will was executed in 2009.
Read more: Lawyer fined for professional misconduct
The Law Society of British Columbia upholds and protects the public interest in the administration of justice by ensuring the independence, integrity and competence of lawyers, establishing education and professional development standards for lawyers, regulating the practice of law and preserving and protecting the rights and freedoms of all persons.