Sunday, October 03, 2010

When Clients Deceive

A recent article by Rosalind Conway in the Law Times,
A Criminal Mind: What to do when a client lies to you?, takes on what for most lawyers will invariably be a sticky issue.

Like it or not, this is something many legal professionals are likely to confront, sooner or later.

Focussing largely on the criminal law context, the article provides some sage advice that is equally applicable to counsel acting in all courts and tribinals:
Who wants to be remembered as a chapter in an ethics text? If you are asked to do something that makes you feel uncomfortable and you can’t find the answer in the Rules of Professional Conduct, don’t do it. Get the client to change the instructions.

Acting upon inappropriate instructions, tendering the forged document or referring to the perjured testimony will only create
problems for counsel.
To underline the point, note these requirements from Ontario's Rules of Professional Conduct:
Rule 2(5)
When advising a client, a lawyer shall not knowingly assist in or encourage any dishonesty, fraud, crime, or illegal conduct, or instruct the client on how to violate the law and avoid punishment.

Rule 4(2)
When acting as an advocate, a lawyer shall not...
...(b) knowingly assist or permit the client to do anything that the lawyer considers to be dishonest or dishonourable,
...(e) knowingly attempt to deceive a tribunal or influence the course of justice by offering false evidence, misstating facts or law, presenting or relying upon a false or deceptive affidavit, suppressing what ought to be disclosed, or otherwise assisting in any fraud, crime, or illegal conduct,
...(g) knowingly assert as true a fact when its truth cannot reasonably be supported by the evidence or as a matter of which notice may be taken by the tribunal,
- Robert Tanha and Garry J. Wise, Toronto

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