uLawPractice Blog

Lawyer, 67, dodges investigators & misleads Ministry, loses licence

Posted by uLaw Editorial Team on Nov 22, 2017 12:36:56 PM

 Retirement has finally come for a longtime Thornhill lawyer who was found to be liable for a long list of dubious acts allegedly unbecoming of a lawyer in Ontario.

LICENCE-REVOKED-OLDMANCOOLEY

For more than two decades, Wayne Sydney Novak’s career as a civil litigator has been marked with repeated suspensions and troubles with the Law Society. He's also suffered, in his defence, from numerous health problems. 

On Nov. 14, the 67-year-old former lawyer had his licence revoked by a Law Society Tribunal.

While his ability to practice law has come to an end, Novak's retirement will be costly. The Law Society has ruled him to pay more than $10,000 by 2021, and he must also pay an indemnity to a client after he was found to have provided false information to the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care.

For three years, between 2009 and 2011, Novak avoided Law Society investigators and failed to produce documents related to trust accounting, such as statements of account or his client trust ledger.

In his defence Novak referred to a major heart attack he suffered from in 2005. He also had his gallbladder removed.

“We find that the Lawyer’s physical state of health, although compromised by the setbacks he experienced in the fall of 2011, did not preclude him from doing what was required of him by the investigators, and does not explain or excuse his breaches of the 2007 Undertaking and his overall conduct in relation to both investigations,” reads a 2014 hearing.

When an investigator tried to obtain his client trust ledger in 2012 and find evidence of an outstanding sum of $1,000 balance, Novak “provided various excuses” not found to be satisfactory by the Law Society, “including that he was leaving for treatment at the Texas Heart Institute (this trip did not take place), he was going to meet with his bookkeeper as soon as convenient, he was away from his office on a personal matter, his priorities were “his healthcare first and practice second” and that the matter was a simple “bookkeeping error” that had been corrected.”

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When it comes to the scale and breadth of misconduct perpetrated by Novak over his long career, there appears to be no shortage according to various Law Society hearings and the recent Nov. 14 2017 ruling.

-in 1993 it was alleged Novak didn’t pay costs ordered against him by a court in that year (101 a)
-in 1999 he found to have had conflict of interest with a client, forced to pay fine (at b)
-in 2002: suspended for 2 months
-2002 he failed in his practice management
-in 2002 Novak breached an order of Convocation, failed to serve his clients
-in 2004 he avoided phone calls and letters from a client
-also in 2004 he took $6,000 from a client to pay another client
-in 2007 he continued to not respond to phone calls from clients
-in 2007 was suspended for 3 months
-in 2006 he provided false information to his client, misled his client
-in 2009 Investigators responded to complaints about what was going on, but Novak again provided false information, this time to the Law Society.
-in 2012-2013 suspended for six months
-in 2014 didn’t tell clients he was suspended

Whether it’s improperly paying himself with client’s money from trust, charging fees clients didn’t agree to, or simply not answering phone calls from investigators and clients for years at a time, Novak appears to have done it all during his time as a civil litigator.

Sources:

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Topics: misconduct, trust accounting, client trust ledger, Wayne Sydney Novak, Retirement by disbarment, statements of account