Canada Roma refugees sue Toronto lawyers over failed asylum claims

16:57  09 november  2017
16:57  09 november  2017 Source:   Toronto Star

They were denied entry into Canada despite having immigration applications approved

  They were denied entry into Canada despite having immigration applications approved They were denied entry into Canada despite having immigration applications approved

Viktor Hohots, Joseph Farkas and Erzsebet Jaszi were previously found guilty of professional misconduct.

A Toronto lawyer who’s listed as the counsel on record in hundreds of Roma refugee cases is facing disciplinary proceedings at the Law Society of Upper Canada for failing to “adequately prepare” a defence of his clients’ asylum claims .

Viktor Hohots is one of three lawyers facing a proposed class-action lawsuit. He was found guilty of professional misconduct in 2015.© Provided by Toronto Star Viktor Hohots is one of three lawyers facing a proposed class-action lawsuit. He was found guilty of professional misconduct in 2015.

Three Toronto lawyers who were found guilty of professional misconduct in handling Roma refugees’ asylum claims, are facing separate class-action lawsuits from their former clients.

The proposed class-action members would comprise refugee claimants from Hungary who sought asylum in Canada from Jan. 1, 2009 through Dec. 31, 2013, were represented by Viktor Hohots, Joseph Farkas or Erzsebet Jaszi, and had their claims rejected due to the lawyers’ alleged negligence.

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A Toronto lawyer who has been found guilty of professional misconduct in representing Roma refugee claimants will be suspended for six months and Farkas faced complaints from 10 former clients who claimed the lawyer was not directly involved in assisting them in their asylum claims , which one

“We have alleged that these lawyers accepted legal aid retainers but abdicated their professional responsibilities, engaged in professional misconduct and negligently represented their clients,” said litigation lawyer Sean Brown, who represents the plaintiffs.

The lawsuits claim the lawyers exhibited “a systemic pattern of conduct, which resulted in many of the defendant’s clients receiving inadequate and negligent service, such that they lost the opportunity to have their claims decided on their merits.”

All three lawyers had previously been found guilty by the Law Society Tribunal of failing to properly serve their clients.

Hohots, who was called to the bar in 2003, was suspended from practising as a lawyer for five months, and barred from practising refugee law for two years. He also had to undergo a review and was ordered to pay $15,000 in legal fees.

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Farkas, who was licensed in 1991, was suspended for six months, placed under supervision and ordered to pay $200,000 in costs to the law society. He has already served his suspension but is appealing the finding of professional misconduct and the costs award. A decision is pending.

Jazsi was disbarred and ordered to pay $50,000 in costs. She died earlier this year, and the class-action lawsuit names her estate as the defendant.

The lawyers have not yet filed statements of defence in response to the proposed lawsuits. Hohots did not respond to the Star’s requests for comment about the allegations. Farkas also declined to comment. The allegations against the trio have not been proven in court.

According to an Osgoode Hall Law School study, there were more than 11,000 Roma refugee claimants, mostly from Hungary, in Canada between 2008 and 2012, and only 8.6 per cent of their claims were successful while more than half were abandoned or withdrawn, largely as a result of poor legal representation. The three lawyers were counsel to hundreds of Roma refugees in Greater Toronto.

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Ottawa is being urged to offer redress to the Roma refugees who were the clients of three disciplined Toronto lawyers and subsequently had their asylum claims rejected by Canada.

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“We represent some of the most vulnerable members of society, refugee claimants who were victimized in their home country on the basis of their ethnicity. Miraculously, they made it to the safety of Canada and were prepared to go through our refugee system,” said Brown.

According to the proposed lawsuits, the former clients of the lawyers — abroad or still in Canada — would qualify to join the action if they failed their asylum claims and their counsel:

  • abdicated their own responsibilities and inappropriately passed their professional tasks to others;
  • failed to complete and file the narrative of the client’s asylum claim with supporting evidence;
  • completed or filed “manifestly inadequate and incorrect” information in the client’s claim;
  • failed to appear at asylum hearings;
  • failed to arrange for translation services for meetings and hearings as needed.

In the statement of claim against Hohots, Istvan Horvath, one of the three representative plaintiffs, claims the lawyer did not attend his refugee hearing, which was attended by another woman who arrived late and was unfamiliar with his case. Horvath’s claim was rejected in June 2012, but he was ultimately permitted to stay in Canada on humanitarian grounds.

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In the lawsuit against Farkas, former client Renata Galamb says her asylum narrative was completed by a Hungarian-language interpreter who was employed at the lawyer’s office. She alleges the interpreter included false statements in her asylum claim and that she never met the lawyer until the date of her hearing. Her claim was rejected in 2012, but a new lawyer successfully got her case reopened. It is ongoing.

Samuel Horvath, who came to Canada for asylum in 2009, claims in his lawsuit that the asylum narrative that Jaszi completed for him was returned by the refugee board for deficiencies. He alleges the lawyer failed to show up at his first refugee hearing and “was completely incoherent and seemed to be intoxicated” at the rescheduled hearing. He and his family were deported back to Hungary in 2014 after their asylum claim was refused.

Canada to match donations for Rohingya .
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Source: http://ca.pressfrom.com/news/canada/-53138-roma-refugees-sue-toronto-lawyers-over-failed-asylum-claims/

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