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B.C. lawyer 'in shock' to proceed in misconduct hearing without lawyer

Leonard Marriott faces first of two citations from the Law Society of BC for alleged professional misconduct.
The Law Society of British Columbia crest.

Vernon-based lawyer Leonard Marriott has commenced his first of two hearings before the Law Society of BC without counsel.

“I’m in shock with this proceeding,” Marriott told the three-person tribunal panel chaired by Maia Tsurumi.

Marriott faces two citations for professional misconduct. On Monday, the first hearing started but was marred by delays as the panel considered its options after Marriott announced he had no lawyer.

Still, Marriott expressed the opinion several times that the society has not lost a case in roughly seven years and as such a lawyer may not change the outcome.

“It’s not very likely I can win but I’d like to speak with a full defence,” said Marriott, adding he did not have evidence from the society to proceed and “it would be an abuse of process…if I can’t have counsel.”

“It’s a serious matter,” he told Tsurumi.

“Yes, it is a serious matter. That is all the more reason to have lined up counsel before today,” said Tsurumi, adding she did not have enough information from Marriott to understand why he didn’t have counsel.

Tsurumi ultimately ruled the hearing would proceed, stating Marriott had six months to prepare for the hearing.

The case at hand involves allegations from the society that Marriott mishandled the execution of a will and improperly withdrew funds as an executor. In total, there are three instances of alleged professional misconduct.

The citation states that between July 2018 and February 2019 Marriott “failed to provide the quality of service required of a competent lawyer in a similar situation, contrary” to the code of conduct for lawyers, when he was hired by a client involved in a local society.

Marriott, who operates his own firm North Valley Law, failed to properly document matters, failed to review the will with the client, failed to take steps to validate the will and provided the client’s unsigned will to a named beneficiary, according to the society.

The society further alleged that in March 2019 Marriott improperly withdrew from trust “some or all of” $71,149.12 in executor fees prior to receiving signed releases from the beneficiary or obtaining a court order to do so.

And, between March 2019 and March 2021, Marriott allegedly “misappropriated or improperly withdrew” from his trust account “some or all” of $26,760.21 when he was not entitled to those funds, the society alleged.

Marriott faces a second hearing on June 24 for allegations of professional misconduct, also involving estate planning. That citation involves allegations Marriott was untimely and communicated poorly with a client, in addition to filing “materials with the Supreme Court of British Columbia that you knew or ought to have known contained false or misleading information.”

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