Nova Scotia

Former lawyer Lyle Howe wins partial victory in battle with barristers' society

Disbarred Halifax lawyer Lyle Howe has won a partial victory in his battle with the Nova Scotia Barristers' Society over its decision to kick him out of the legal profession.

Disbarred Halifax lawyer won't have to pay $150K penalty upfront should he reapply to practise

Lyle Howe, who was disbarred in 2017, won't have to pay $150,000 in costs related to his disciplinary hearing by the Nova Scotia Barristers' Society, the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal ruled Thursday. (Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press)

Disbarred Halifax lawyer Lyle Howe has won a partial victory in his battle with the Nova Scotia Barristers' Society over its decision to kick him out of the legal profession.

However, Howe said he is disappointed he didn't get the main thing he sought, which was some sort of acknowledgement that the process the society used against him was tainted by racism.

The society's disciplinary panel found Howe guilty of professional misconduct and professional incompetence. He was disbarred on Oct. 20, 2017.

The society said Howe could not reapply to practise law for five years and also stipulated that he pay $150,000 in costs before reapplying.

Howe appealed that decision to the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal.

Former Halifax lawyer Lyle Howe says he won't be applying for reinstatement as a member of the bar in Nova Scotia. (CBC)

In a decision released Thursday, the court found — with the consent of the society — that the requirement to pay the monetary penalty before he reapplies to practise law should be struck down. But Howe would still be required to pay the  $150,000 penalty over time if he did practise law again.

However, the court disagreed with Howe's contention that his Charter rights had been violated by a process that was inherently racist.

In its decision, the court noted that the scope of its review of the society's decision is limited by law.

"Mr. Howe is arguing that the Panel misinterpreted, misapplied or overlooked evidence in making its factual findings," Justice David Farrar wrote on behalf of the five-member appeal panel. 

"We can only interfere if there was no evidence upon which the factual conclusions could have been made."

Howe weighs options

Howe said he is considering his options, which could include seeking leave to take his case to the Supreme Court of Canada.

He has already lodged a complaint with the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission about his treatment at the hands of the society.

When asked whether he would reapply to practise law now that the $150,000 penalty was no longer a pre-condition, he answered, "Hell, no."

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Clarifications

  • In its decision, the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal ruled that the requirement for Lyle Howe to pay $150,000 before he can reapply to practise law should be struck down. But Howe would still be required to pay the $150,000 over time if he did reapply to practise law. This story and headline have been updated to clarify.
    Oct 25, 2019 5:22 PM AT

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