A Quebec lawyer has been denied leave by the Supreme Court of Canada in a motion to have her former firm barred from representing her former nanny pro bono in a $24,000 lawsuit.
Jacqueline Sanderson was denied leave on Thursday for her motion to remove a lawyer from Davies Ward Philliips & Vineberg LLP, where she worked for seven years, off the case in which she sued her former live-in nanny.
Sanderson argued that having the Davies lawyer, Leon Moubayed, act on the case was a conflict of interest.
Earlier this year, the Quebec Court of Appeal reversed a decision by the Court of Quebec that prohibited Moubayed from representing the nanny, May Ostos Mangadlao. The appeals court found that Mangadlao had a right to choose her lawyer.
“It’s a fundamental right for the client to be able to choose his or her lawyer and that’s the basic principle,” says Sylvain Lussier, the lawyer who represented Mangadlao on the appeal.
“It is not for the lawyer and it’s not for the client to justify why. You don’t have to tell the court.”
Sanderson argues that while the nanny has the constitutional right to be represented by a lawyer, she does not have the right to choose a lawyer if there is a conflict of interest.
Sanderson sued Mangadlao, who worked for her between 2011 and 2013, for leaving without giving proper notice, resulting in alleged lost business opportunities.
Sanderson said she launched the lawsuit only after Mangadlao had filed a number of actions against her in the Quebec Human Rights Tribunal and the province’s labour standards commission.
She says she filed her suit as a counter claim to Mangadlao’s actions, as she could not do so in those tribunals.
“It was more like a countersuit, because she’s suing me,” she says.
She then filed a motion to have Moubayed disqualified when she found out he was acting for Mangadlao.
Sanderson has argued that Moubayed’s involvement in the case presents a conflict of interest as Davies still has confidential information about her. Sanderson worked at Davies until 2005, when she says she was fired.
Lussier, who is a partner at Osler Hoskin & Harcourt LLP, says Moubayed does not have to justify why it’s appropriate for him to represent her or why he took the case pro bono.
“As a question of principle, we don’t have to tell her. It’s none of her business,” he says of Sanderson.
“At the end of the day, it is also a matter of solicitor-client privilege. It’s the relationship between the client and the lawyer and the lawyer doesn’t have to justify the mandate,” he adds.
He also says that the motivation of the lawyer for representing Mangadlao is not grounds for disqualifying him.
Lussier says he was shocked to hear Sanderson had applied for leave to appeal her $24,000 case to the Supreme Court of Canada.
Moubayed declined to comment on the case, citing confidentiality orders that are in place.