The Snail’s Pace of Legal Discipline

Written by JEFF GRAY – LAW REPORTER

For The Globe and Mail

Last updated Tuesday, Aug. 07 2012, 7:34 PM EDT

Conrad Black has been tried, convicted, jailed and released. But two of his former Toronto lawyers are still facing fallout from the collapse of his Hollinger media empire.

For more than two years, two lawyers from Torys LLP, minor players in the Hollinger drama, have been before a Law Society of Upper Canada professional disciplinary panel, accused of acting in a conflict-of-interest during corporate deals over a decade ago.

The pair, Darren Sukonick and Beth DeMerchant, are accused of breaking the profession’s rules by acting both for Hollinger International Inc., and for Mr. Black and certain Hollinger directors and executives when the group received $80-million in controversial “non-compete payments” in the sales of Hollinger’s Canadian newspaper empire in 2000.

The law society’s allegations centre on advice the lawyers allegedly gave about the need to disclose those payments. Lawyers for Ms. DeMerchant, who has since retired from the firm, and Mr. Sukonick have argued they acted properly and according to the rules.

The hearing, which followed a law society investigation that began almost seven years ago and has since hung over the pair’s careers, is just one of several complex, high-profile disputes as the country’s legal profession continues to grapple with the thorny issue of conflicts of interest for lawyers.

For the full story on the Globe and Mail website, click HERE.

 

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