A recent ruling from the Court of Appeal has upheld a penalty against a Prince Albert lawyer.
Prince Albert lawyer Peter Andrew Abrametz was suspended for two months, and ordered to pay restitution and complete ethics training after he was found guilty of conduct unbecoming a lawyer. The May 23 ruling from the Court of Appeal found no fault in the length of the suspension, but Abrametz's appeal against the financial penalties was partially successful.
Court documents show Abrametz “did personally prefer his own interests” and “used information obtained during his representation of his clients to obtain a benefit for himself ” when he got financially involved in a property transaction 10 years ago.
In July of 2008, long-time friends of Abrametz wanted a quick sale of their acreage in the R.M. of Paddockwood, and the friends brought him details of a potential buyer. The purchaser was set to pay $30,000 for the property, but the court heard Abrametz told his friends their asking price was too low and then contacted another personal friend who made an accepted offer of $33,000. The person who initially made the $30,000 offer learned the property had been sold to someone else and later discovered Abrametz was a partner in the company that bought it. As a result, a complaint was lodged with the Law Society of Saskatchewan.
In November of 2008, Abrametz and his business partner agreed to sell the property for a total profit of $66,000.
In addition to the $14,000 in restitution he was ordered to pay to the initial sellers, Abrametz was also ordered to pay almost $30,000 in legal costs, though he successfully appealed against $25,000 of that. The amount of legal fees he must cover has yet to be determined.
During the appeal, Abrametz unsuccessfully argued the two-month suspension was unreasonable given the “absence of any finding of ‘dishonesty’ by the Law Society’s Hearing Committee" and that "he had been ‘well intended’ and ‘trying to help his friends.'"
The appeal court's decision ordered Abrametz to start serving the two-month suspension within 90 days of the date of the hearing. He will be suspended from June 29 until August 29.
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