The Court of Appeal allows disbarred Halifax lawyer to proceed with lawsuit

A former Halifax defense lawyer has won his legal challenge against the Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society.

The Nova Scotia Court of Appeal ruled on Tuesday that Lyle Howe could proceed with a lawsuit against the Society.
“It’s a major step in the right direction for me,” Howe said in an interview.

The barristers’ society disbarred Howe in 2017 after a three-member panel found him guilty of professional misconduct and professional incompetence.

The Supreme Court had previously dismissed Howe’s case against the society, but the court of appeal has ruled Howe’s case should be heard.

Howe has argued the decision to disbar him was floundered and violated his equality rights under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Howe, who is an African Nova Scotian, claimed racism was to blame for how he was treated by the society.

“Even though the Court of Appeal didn’t specifically address what I believe to be the underlying issue, that of systemic discrimination, they at least gave me the opportunity to move forward with my arguments,” he said.

A spokesperson for the Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society said in an email the society would not be commenting on the matter at this time.

Appeal decision

Justice David PS Farrar, writing on behalf of a three-member panel of the Court of Appeal, ruled a Supreme Court justice was wrong to dismiss Howe’s lawsuit against the barristers’ society and two of its executives.

The Court of Appeal decision also rejected the dismissal of Howe’s claim that his disbarment was a “malicious prosecution.”

Any costs Howe has paid to the respondents named in the lawsuit should be returned to him as well, the decision said.

“I could almost feel the frustration in the tone of Justice Farrar that this was handled so improperly and I could feel that frustration at the hearing, not just in the decision,” Howe said.

Howe said he expects it will likely be several months before the matter is back in court.

The former defense lawyer has created a series of legal challenges since his disciplinary hearing. Howe said he is also currently in the process of filing two human rights complaints against the Nova Scotia Barristers Society.

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