A hearing panel of the Law Society Tribunal ordered that Rosario Canteno Di Bella, a Victoria-based lawyer, be suspended four months following his professional misconduct in relation to a client.
The decision, announced in a news release on Dec. 15, will see the suspension begin on Jan. 1.
The panel found that Di Bela committed several instances of negligence, including that he did not provide the quality of service expected of a lawyer when he neglected to attend to matters within a reasonable time frame, he failed to keep his client informed, missed deadlines set out in a court order, did not answer requests for information from the client and failed to answer communications with his client promptly.
In dealing with the same client, Di Bella was found to have misrepresented that he ordered a wills search and didn’t assist in transferring the client’s matter to another lawyer.
The Law Society asked the panel to apply a condition disallowing Di Bella from practising in the area of wills and estates until the condition is removed by the discipline committee. However, the panel rejected this proposal on the basis that Di Bella’s primary area of legal practice is in wills and estates. A prohibition from practising in this area would be the same as a de facto disbarment, the panel ruled.
The four-month suspension takes into account the serious nature of Di Bella’s misconduct and his overall record; a conduct review, a practice standards referral, a practice limitation, a previous citation and three administrative suspensions – two of which were in effect when the latest decision was announced.
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