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B.C. lawyer fined $10K for talking to client about evidence during court proceedings

Lawyer Preetka Brar.
Image Credit: www.brarlaw.ca/

A B.C. lawyer has been fined $10,000 for discussing evidence with her client during breaks in legal proceedings.

According to a Feb. 1 Law Society of B.C. decision, Surrey-based lawyer Preetka Brar spoke to her client during breaks while the client was giving evidence regarding two motor vehicle accidents he was involved in.

"During breaks, (Brar) spoke to her client in Punjabi. The client appeared to be frustrated and confused and he complained to the lawyer that he had a headache. (Brar) attempted to focus the client on his claims, in the hope that the remaining time would be used more constructively," the decision reads.

After one break, the opposing lawyers said they had heard her speaking to her client about headaches and reminded her that she wasn't allowed to speak to her client about his evidence during the breaks.

The decision says Brar's client spoke little English and used an interpreter for the court procedure which while still under oath, was held by Zoom.

The court proceedings were limited to two hours each under Fast Track litigation rules, and the procedures weren't moving quickly.

"The interpreter was not always able to finish interpreting his answer before another question was asked," the decision reads. "(Brar) became concerned and frustrated by her client’s inability to focus and explain himself, particularly given the limited time permitted before the examination needed to conclude."

The decision says the opposing lawyers didn't speak Punjabi, so it's unclear how they knew what Brar was talking about with her client.

Brar later admitted to the July 2021 incident and signed a consent resolution with the Law Society.

READ MORE: B.C. lawyer who accused crown of 'fabricating evidence' now facing hearing

"(Brar) admits that during breaks, she discussed the client’s evidence with him in Punjabi. They discussed what the client was going to say about the accident, his injuries and symptoms after one accident in March, and a discussion he had with his physician," the decision reads.

The decision says the case was finally settled and there is no suggestion that the client was untruthful or that his lawyer’s discussions with him about his evidence during the breaks resulted in him providing inaccurate evidence.

The Law Society said Brar had been practicing since 2008 has a clean record and expressed remorse and apologized for her misconduct.

"In order to provide some context for what occurred, (Brar) explained that it was an isolated incident that happened in a very frustrating and stressful situation. Her client was confused, there were issues with translation, and without directing any blame, issues with opposing counsel," the decision reads. "In the moment, she exercised poor judgement."

The decision says since the incident Bar has completed continuing professional development courses and used resources, to help her better understand how to manage stressful situations and maintain professionalism during litigation.

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