07/02/2015 07:14 EDT | Updated 07/02/2016 05:59 EDT

Lu Chan Khuong, head of Quebec Bar Association, fighting suspension

The head of the Quebec Bar Association says she will fight her suspension by the group's Board of Directors.

In a statement released Wednesday night, Lu Chan Khuong insisted the board does not have the right to relieve her of duty and she has hired a lawyer.

Earlier on Wednesday, the association's board announced it had decided to suspend Khuong because of allegations that she was involved in a shoplifting incident last year in Laval.

The association's board of directors held a special meeting Wednesday and voted unanimously to demand Lu Chan Khuong resign on Wednesday.

After she refused, the board suspended her indefinitely.

Khuong denied the allegations and said the situation, reportedly involving two pairs of jeans worth $455, resulted from a "moment of inattention" and occurred in good faith.

Charges were never laid.

But the members of the board also took issue with comments Khuong made to Montreal newspaper La Presse, suggesting she went along with the non-judicial process, in order to avoid media attention and "wasting time in court."

"The bar took into consideration that the bâtonnière has to be irreproachable, because she is representing justice, she is representing protection of the public," said Lise Tremblay, CEO of the Quebec Bar Association.

"She has to support the administration of justice. No grey zone can be tolerated."

The decision to suspend Khuong wasn't easy, said Tremblay, adding the board will meet again late next week to decide on its next course of action.

Questions about lack of charges

Tremblay said the Quebec Bar could not comment on the Crown's decision not to lay charges in the case, but at least one criminal defence attorney said he finds the situation surprising.

"To me, it is unheard of when the alleged theft is of that magnitude," said Eric Sutton.

On its website, the province's justice ministry describes the non-judicial program as a means of "of dealing with certain offences in a particular way so as to better rationalize the use of resources allocated to the judicial system and not to unduly stigmatize the misconduct of an offender whose behaviour does not warrant judicial action."

Khuong, who is the spouse of former Quebec Justice Minister Marc Bellemare, took office as the head of the province's professional order of lawyers only June 18th.