An Ottawa lawyer is facing several professional misconduct charges by the Upper Canada Law Society.
Kenneth Wayne Johnson, a barrister and solicitor at Kenneth Johnson Law Office on St. Laurent Boulevard, is accused of acting on behalf of a vendor as well as a purchaser and lender. If proven, such an arrangement would place a lawyer in a conflict of interest, as there should have been a separate solicitor for the buyer to ensure that the money changing hands was done so properly and in a timely fashion, according to a local lawyer who did not wish to be named.
A list of 11 local properties are listed as being a part of the misconduct allegations. The notice of application document also states that those properties saw significant increases in price during a short period of time from one transaction to another.
The document makes no indication as to whether each property listing details an individual sale, or if the 11 properties were sold together. Most of the listed properties appear to be single-detached dwellings, while a couple appear to be multi-unit two-storey residential complexes.
Mr. Johnson is accused of having “knowingly assisted in dishonesty or fraud” in the transactions listed in the document. Alternatively, he “acted in circumstances where he ought to have known that he was being used to facilitate dishonesty or fraud” in connection with the aforementioned properties, the law society alleges.
His professional misconduct charges include contravening various regulations in the Upper Canada Law Society’s rules of professional conduct. The sections cited as having been infringed upon include “when advising clients, a lawyer should be honest and candid,” “a lawyer shall conduct himself or herself in such a way as to maintain the integrity of the profession” and “a lawyer shall not act or continue to act in a matter when there is or is likely to be a conflicting interest,” among others.
Should the law society find that the professional misconduct charges will be applied, Mr. Johnson could lose his license, according to the Law Society Act. Other potential consequences could include license suspension, a fine, a requirement to seek additional training to improve professional competence, among others.
The accusations have not been proven.
From 2001 through 2011, the law society completed 68 mortgage fraud prosecutions. In 2011, hearing panels included 12 mortgage fraud matters with findings of professional misconduct. In seven of those 12 cases, the hearing panels ordered that the lawyer’s license be revoked. In the other five, the lawyer’s right to practice was suspended, according to the Upper Canada Law Society.
Mr. Johnson declined to comment on the proceedings, stating that his lawyer advised him not to speak publicly while the matter is before the hearing panel. His lawyer, Charles Wagman, could not be reached for comment.
This is the first time Mr. Johnson has been involved with disciplinary proceedings, according to the law society. In a written statement to the OBJ, a spokesperson from the law society said that it does not speculate on possible outcomes of discipline matters before a hearing panel.
The notice of application, filed on Dec. 5., calls for a “proceeding management conference” on Jan. 21 at the offices of the law society.
The Law Society of Upper Canada regulates the lawyers and paralegals of Ontario in the public interest and ensures that all of them meet various standards of conduct.
The Ken Johnson Law Office was founded in 1984 and “provides legal services, advice and representation to hundreds of Ottawa area clients,” according to its website.