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Appendix 6 of seven appendices in the annotated Professional Conduct Handbook

 

APPENDIX 6
ACTING FOR TWO OR MORE CLIENTS

[Chapter 6, Rule 6.01]


1. Sample letter from lawyer acting jointly for two clients. Any letter must be tailored to individual circumstances.

Dear Client A and Client B:

Re: [Matter]

We confirm that we agree to act for both of you jointly with respect to this matter. Representing you jointly simply means that we will be engaged by both of you to act on the same matter at the same time. We are allowed to act jointly for clients only when their interests are not in conflict. We believe your interests are currently not in conflict; however, it is possible that your interests could diverge or even conflict in the future.

The rules of the Law Society of British Columbia require that, before we represent you jointly, we must raise certain issues with you and obtain your consent as to the course to be followed in the future if a conflict arises. The following will apply to our joint representation of you:

(a) We owe each of you a duty of undivided loyalty. This means that we must act in each of your best interests at all times and must not favour the interests of one of you over the interests of another, or allow anything to interfere with our loyalty to each of you or our judgement on your behalf. If we are unable to fulfill this duty of undivided loyalty to each of you, we will have to withdraw.

(b) No information we receive from one of you or from any other source with respect to this matter can be treated as confidential from either of you. This means that, as long as the joint retainer continues, we must disclose relevant information to both of you.  However, should we receive information from any source that makes it clear we are in a conflict by acting for you jointly, we must cease acting for both of you in the matter. In that event, however, we would not be permitted to disclose that information to you.

(c) If we act for one of you in a matter separate from this one, and we receive confidential information from that separate matter that is relevant to this matter, we will have to withdraw from this matter unless we receive the consent of the client in the separate matter to disclose that information.

(d) If a conflict arises between you , we may be permitted to assist you in attempting to resolve the conflict if you so desire. If it is resolved, we may continue to represent both of you.

[Lawyer when drafting letter must choose either (e) or (f) following]

(e) If a conflict arises between you that is not resolved, then we will cease to represent both of you.

or substitute the following for (e)

(f) If a conflict arises between you and that conflict is not resolved, we will cease to act for Client A but will continue to act for Client B if the rules permit that in the circumstances. [State reasons why lawyer would continue to act for client B. For example: “We confirm that Client B is a continuing client of this firm and is regularly represented by lawyers in this firm on different matters.”]

Although joint representation of a number of clients by a single lawyer or law firm has some advantages, there are aspects of joint representation that could lead to the potential problems we have outlined above. For that reason, we ask that you consent to the potential course of action we have outlined before we commence acting for both of you jointly. We recommend that you obtain independent legal advice before you give us that consent.

If you are satisfied that you wish us to continue to act for you on the basis outlined above, please sign the enclosed duplicate copy of this letter and return it to us.

Yours very truly,


2. Sample letter from lawyer acting jointly for more than two clients. Any letter must be tailored to individual circumstances.

Dear Client A, Client B and Client C:

Re: [Matter]

We confirm that we agree to act for all of you jointly with respect to this matter. Representing you jointly simply means that we are engaged by all of you to act on the same matter at the same time. We are allowed to act jointly for clients when their interests are not in conflict. We believe your interests are currently not in conflict;  however, it is possible that your interests could diverge or even conflict in the future.

The rules of the Law Society of British Columbia require that, before we represent clients jointly, we must raise certain issues with you and obtain your consent as to the course to be followed in the future if a conflict arises. The following will apply to our joint representation of all of you:

(a) We owe each of you a duty of undivided loyalty. This means that we must act in each of your best interests at all times and must not favour the interests of one of you over the interests of another, or allow anything to interfere with our loyalty to each of you or our judgement on your behalf. If we are unable to fulfill this duty of undivided loyalty to each of you, we will have to withdraw.

(b) No information we receive from one of you or from any other source with respect to this matter can be treated as confidential from the others. This means that, as long as the joint retainer continues, we must disclose relevant information to all of you.  However, should we receive information from any source that makes it clear we are in a conflict by acting for you jointly, we must cease acting for all of you in the matter. In that event, however, we would not be permitted to disclose that information to you.

(c) If we act for one of you in a matter separate from this one, and we receive confidential information from that separate matter that is relevant to this matter, we will have to withdraw from this matter unless we receive the consent of the client in the separate matter to disclose that information.

(d) If a conflict arises among any of you, we may be permitted to assist you in attempting to resolve the conflict if you so desire. If it is resolved, we may continue to represent all of you.

[Lawyer when drafting letter must choose either (e) or (f) following]

(e) If a conflict arises among any of you that is not resolved, then we will cease to represent any of you.

or substitute the following for (e)

(f) If a conflict arises among any of you and that conflict is not resolved, we will cease to act for Client A and Client B but will continue to act for Client C if the rules permit that in the circumstances. [State reasons why lawyer would continue to act for client C. For example “We confirm that Client C is a continuing client of this firm and is regularly represented by lawyers in this firm on different matters.”]

Although joint representation of a number of clients by a single lawyer or law firm has some advantages, there are aspects of joint representation that could lead to the potential problems we have outlined above. For that reason, we ask that you consent to the potential course of action we have outlined before we commence acting for all of you jointly. We recommend that you obtain independent legal advice before you give us that consent.

If you are satisfied that you wish us to continue to act for you on the basis outlined above, please sign the enclosed duplicate copy of this letter and return it to us.

Yours very truly,

[Appendix 6 added 04/2000; amended 10/2009]

 

[Table of Contents] [previous appendix] [next appendix]
Appendix 6 of seven appendices in the annotated Professional Conduct Handbook