Two Ontario lawyers cleared of conflict of interest allegations by a Law Society of Upper Canada hearing panel have filed a costs claim seeking about $4 million from the regulator.
Lawyers for Beth DeMerchant and Darren Sukonick have filed a 69-page costs submissions document outlining the hours spent defending their clients. Two senior lawyers acting for DeMerchant and Sukonick logged about 8,000 preparation work hours and 237.5 hearing days, over seven years. Juniors and students logged an additional 440 hours of work, according to Legal Feeds.
With disbursements, the total cost is close to $4 million.
Five of the six conflict of interest allegations DeMerchant and Sukonick faced were related to work they did on behalf of the Hollinger group of companies; the sixth was related to the tax implications of Conrad Black’s renunciation of his Canadian citizenship.
Legal Feeds asked Law Society Director of Communications, Roy Thomas, for a comment on the costs submissions. The news organization said it received a statement that read, in part: “In accordance with the decision and order of the hearing panel, the law society will be filing its reply to the cost submissions. The reply is a public document, which will be available from the tribunals office once it is filed.”
In the costs submission document, the lawyers for DeMerchant and Sukonick state: “Where proceedings are unwarranted, the panel has a discretion as to whether to order costs against the law society.”
The lawyers say the circumstances include: the lawyers’ co-operation with the Law Society; their efforts to bring home to the law society the unwarranted nature of the conduct hearing; the degree of hardship suffered by the lawyer; the opinion or opinions obtained by the law society; and the manner in which the hearing was conducted.
DeMerchant and Sukonick say the proceedings against them were “unwarranted and the result of negligence” and that “either full or substantial recovery of the lawyers’ costs is appropriate.”