POLITICS

Ontario lawyer disbarred after faking court documents, emails, misleading client

04/14/2015 04:19 EDT | Updated 06/23/2015 02:59 EDT
TORONTO - An Ontario lawyer has been disbarred after fabricating a series of court orders and emails while pretending to take legal action on behalf of one of his clients.

The Law Society Tribunal of Ontario revoked Brian Douglas Nicholson's licence to practice law and ordered him to pay $10,000 in costs to the Law Society of Upper Canada, in a decision released last week.

"The respondent admitted misleading the client. He did not deny creating false orders and endorsements," an agreed statement of facts filed with the tribunal said. "The respondent admits that the facts herein constitute professional misconduct."

Nicholson was running his own practice which dealt in construction law and civil litigation.

In 2012 and 2013, he was representing Robert Danninger, the head of a company named Daro Flooring Constructions, who asked him to pursue a claim against a company called Lafarge Canada.

Danninger claimed Lafarge was selling their flooring product independently, while cutting Daro out of the installation process and their share of the sales. Lafarge claimed the product being sold was their own.

Danninger asked Nicholson to commence an action against Lafarge but Nicholson never actually followed through with it, the agreed statement of facts said.

Nicholson went on to fabricate a series of documents, including fake court orders issued under the names of real judges, and fake emails from court staff.

"While the respondent was taking no steps to pursue the action or the injunction, he was telling his client otherwise," it said.

"The respondent provided Danninger with documents that appeared to be endorsements, emails from court staff and notices that served to support his claims to have taken various steps."

When Danninger learned that Lafarge was still selling the disputed flooring product, he pushed for further action.

Nicholson then claimed to have brought a series of motions for contempt before the Superior Court, which he claimed resulted in orders that Lafarge pay Daro $3 million in damages, the agreed statement of facts said.

Nicholson then claimed that Lafarge had launched an appeal, and faked documents to that effect, the agreed statement of facts said.

He even faked an email from an RBC employee which claimed to confirm the receipt of $3 million in trust from Lafarge.

There were at least three other cases involving Danninger and other companies which Nicholson was a part of, which also involved fabricated documents, the tribunal heard.

In September 2013, Nicholson came clean to Danninger and told him he had been misleading him.

Nicholson said he was going through a divorce and was "somewhat depressed" when he was asked to handle the Lafarge matter, the agreed statement of facts said.

He said he realized he may be "in over his head" and also had "fears and insecurities" about a "potentially threatening situation" though he did not explain the basis for that fear.

"The respondent claimed he was paralyzed by his fear — it 'gripped me on this file and led me to deceive the client and myself,'" the agreed statement of fact said. It also said that Nicholson has been criminally charged with attempting to obstruct justice, forgery and fraud in relation to the Daro-Lafarge matter.