Nova Scotia lawyer disbarred for theft
Repeat offender referred to police
A Nova Scotia lawyer with a history of mental illness and sticky fingers has been disbarred and ordered to pay $10,000 in costs after admitting to misappropriating client money.
It is the second time in three years that Peter van Feggelen has been disciplined for taking money from clients.
The lawyer escaped disbarment in 2010 when a Nova Scotia Bar Society disciplinary panel ruled van Feggelen's depression was a mitigating factor when he misappropriated $30,000 from a trust account in 2009.
On Monday, the bar society dealt with a second, unrelated complaint against van Feggelen. After being assured van Feggelen was mentally competent, the bar society accepted a settlement agreement where he admitted misconduct and accepted discipline.
"Mr. van Feggelen shall be disbarred. He cannot reapply for five years," said Gail Rudderham Chernin, who chaired a three-member hearing panel.
The panel heard that in 2012, van Feggelen took $50,000 from clients and put it in his personal bank account for his own use, breaching a condition of the settlement in the original complaint.
The bar society had allowed him to continue practicing provided clients' funds were placed under the control of a supervising lawyer, Derrick Kimball of Kimball Brogan. Kimball was able to recover the $50,000 and reported the breach to the society.
After the society launched its second investigation, other incidents emerged, including a misappropriation in November 2011 when van Feggelen pocketed $15,000 from a client. The Bar Society Fund eventually reimbursed the client from a special fund used to repay victims of bad lawyers.
The bar society says it is dealing with one other claim for reimbursement from a van Feggelen client.
The society has referred van Fegglen's conduct to the RCMP.
Peter van Feggelen was admitted to the bar in 1989. He did not attend Monday's disciplinary hearing in Halifax. His mother was present, but declined to speak to reporters.
A letter from his psychiatrist said the lawyer was "not fit to undertake a hearing at this time," but that van Feggelen's ongoing depression did not impair his ability to comes to terms with the bar society.