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Facilitator's Guide - Civil Litigation Case Study (The Allegation)

On September 9, 2018 Harold Knox, Managing Partner at Knox & Harrison, Barristers & Solicitors, in London, Ontario reviewed a letter from Percy Poloski, the opposing counsel in a lawsuit against the firm’s client, George Claremont.  He alleged that Knox & Harrison had a conflict of interest because it had previously acted for the opposing party, ABC Co. in another matter and demanded that the firm withdraw from the case.  Harold wondered how he should respond.

  1. This case is intended for a study group discussion session about professional responsibility in the context of Civil Litigation.
  2. Participants will be expected to put themselves in the position of the lawyer, Harold Knox, in the case and to identify and analyze the legal, professional, and personal challenges he faces.
  3. Participants will also be expected to develop alternatives and an action plan for resolving the issues in accordance with the lawyer’s professional obligations under the Rules of Professional Conduct.

Rules of Professional Conduct
  • Definitions,  r. 1.1-1, “client”, “conflict of interest”, “consent”
  • Duty to Avoid Conflicts of Interest, r. 3.4-1 [10]
  • Acting Against Former Clients, rr. 3.4-10 and 3.4-11
  • Referral Fees, rr. 3.6-6.0 to 3.6-6.1
  • Withdrawal from Representation, s. 3.7
Suggested Discussion Questions
Assume you are the lawyer in this case and answer the following questions with reference to the Rules of Professional Conduct:
  1. Describe the nature of the conflict of interest that Percy Poloski is alleging.
  2. How could this situation have been avoided?
  3. Does it matter that George Claremont is Dan Harrison’s client, while ABC Co. was previously represented by his partner, Harold Knox?
  4. How do you determine if confidential information is relevant?
  5. Must Knox & Harrison withdraw from acting?
  6. If there is no conflict of interest, what duties, if any, do you owe to George Claremont and/or ABC Co.?
  7. Can the parties consent to Knox & Harrison’s continued representation?  If so, what is required to obtain such consent?
  8. If consent is obtained, what measures, if any, should the firm take to prevent Dan Harrison from accessing confidential information about the Pooling Application?
  9. If you were to refer the matter to another firm, could you accept a referral fee?  Why or why not?
  10. What steps should you take in response to Percy Poloski’s letter?
Terms or Concepts Explained