West Van lawyer suspended three months by Law Society of BC for assault on girlfriend

Anarba Groub

A West Vancouver lawyer who physically assaulted his girlfriend during a fight in her home six years ago has been handed a three-month suspension and ordered to pay $12,000 in costs to the Law Society of B.C.

A West Vancouver lawyer who physically assaulted his girlfriend during a fight in her home six years ago has been handed a three-month suspension and ordered to pay $12,000 in costs to the Law Society of B.C.

A three-member disciplinary panel of the Law Society imposed the sanction on Michael M. Ranspot, March 18.

Ranspot was found earlier to have committed conduct “unbecoming of a lawyer” when he assaulted his then-girlfriend during a physical altercation in her home on Dec. 31, 2015.

According to that earlier decision, Ranspot and the woman had been in a relationship for about four years when an argument broke out between them around 2 a.m. – eventually leading to a physical confrontation.

Police who attended the woman’s home after Ranspot left noted, “The apartment was in disarray with broken glass on the floor, an upended coffee table and blood smeared on the carpet.”

The victim’s injuries included bruising and scratches on her face as well as bruising on her arms, according to that decision.

Ranspot later pleaded guilty in criminal court to a charge of assault causing bodily harm and was handed a 16-month conditional discharge, which included taking a program on how to manage his emotions and behaviour.

The disciplinary panel noted that in December 2020, Ranspot and his former girlfriend reached an out-of-court settlement after she sued him for damages stemming from the assault.

Ranspot was also determined to be guilty of professional misconduct for representing his girlfriend in family law proceedings and lending her money without ensuring she had independent legal advice, breaching rules regarding conflict of interest.

According to the decision of the hearing panel, Ranspot’s former girlfriend attended the disciplinary hearing and gave a statement about the lasting impacts of the assault on her.

“She described living in transition houses after the assault, and managing her trauma over the following five years.”

She urged the panel to impose a suspension of 18 months.

The Law Society asked for a four-month suspension. Ranspot suggested a suspension of two weeks to one month would be appropriate.

“It is difficult to imagine conduct more grave than when a lawyer assaults a vulnerable client who is also their intimate partner,” wrote panel chair Jamie Maclaren.

The panel noted in 30 years of practice, Ranspot has been disciplined twice before for professional misconduct – once in 1997 by rendering false accounts to Legal Aid BC, for which he was suspended for 18 months; and again in 2007 when a disciplinary panel found Ranspot had failed to serve an estate law client with the quality of service expected of a competent lawyer. The panel ordered Ranspot to pay a $5,000 fine.

The panel noted that Ranspot has already undergone a series of criminal, civil and prolonged regulatory proceedings in relation to the assault on his girlfriend, which already serve to remind lawyers of “the far-ranging consequences of engaging in violent and impulsive behaviour.”

“We heard from [the former girlfriend] that the memory of the assault continues to traumatize her, and that she cannot forgive [Ranspot] for his actions. These are aggravating factors in assessing appropriate discipline,” wrote the panel chair.

However, the panel added the 18-month suspension requested by her would be far greater than sanctions imposed on other lawyers who assaulted their intimate partners, including those whose assaults included more “egregious circumstances.”

 


https://www.nsnews.com/local-news/west-vancouver-lawyer-suspended-three-months-for-assaulting-girlfriend-5232244

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