Courts ruled to grant an appeal to a long-serving lawyer from Prince Albert in a case that’s stretched on for years.
Peter V. Abrametz was found guilty of professional misconduct after being found to have arranged high-interest loans with vulnerable clients by the Law Society of Saskatchewan in a case that started with an audit investigation back in 2012.
In a decision published by the law society February 2019, he was disbarred until next January.
Abrametz argued the process took too long to conclude. The law society argued the delays were not unacceptable or inordinate due to their complex investigation into the matter.
The Court of Appeal judges agreed with Abrametz.
Court of Appeal judges said they decided the clock on the case “started ticking” on December 4, 2012, the date the law society had to take action against Abrametz.
The judges decided to “stop the clock” on May 17, 2017, when the hearings began and from that point forward, there were no undue delays.
“Of the 53-month period under consideration, only 18 months were inherent to the process, and only 2 ½ months were attributable to Mr. Abrametz,” the court of appeal decision said.
“The remainder, totaling 32 ½ months, was undue delay.”
The findings of the law society’s report, which stated Abrametz charging clients 30 per cent interest on loans was neither fair nor reasonable, was also discussed in the Court of Appeal.
Semantics were argued in court around whether what Abrametz was doing in arranging loans or “advances” with clients and whether that constituted a business relationship — a violation of the code of professional conduct — but the judges sided with the law society on that front.
The court of appeal decision said the proceedings against Abrametz were to be stayed, while the disbarment penalty and legal costs are to be set aside.
The court of appeal decision said the findings of professional misconduct against Abrametz stand.