Hamilton lawyer stripped of licence

A Hamilton lawyer who won millions from the provincial government in a class action lawsuit has lost his licence after admitting to taking almost two million dollars that was supposed to go to his clients.

John Wallace Findlay represented people and businesses who were affected blockades set up in Caledonia by Aboriginal protesters in 2006.  In 2011 the provincial government agreed to pay $20-million dollars to settle the lawsuit.  Findlay was paid $3-million for his legal work.

But in 2017 Findlay admitted having spent another $2-million that was being held in reserve for claimants and couldn’t pay it back.  A Law Society investigation found that he had begun taking money from the fund in 2012.  The investigation also found that he tried to cover his tracks, that he lied to a lawyer representing the Attorney General, provided a fake document to the Law Society’s auditor and had even asked the court for — and received — more money to administer the fund which had already been misappropriated.

This is not the first time John Wallace Findlay has lost his licence.  He was found guilty of similar offences in 2001 after $75-thousand disappeared from a trust fund.  But the Law Society revoked it for only two years because Findlay complained of difficult personal circumstances including a sick child.

Findlay did not appear at today’s hearing. Instead he sent a letter saying he didn’t think it would be prudent to make submissions or take questions when he has criminal charges pending.  He is scheduled to appear in court on fraud and theft charges on May 7th.