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Quick question about solicitors.

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Is there a rule about not being allowed to use a firm if the other party has used the firm before? albeit the matter was handled by a different individual/solicitor, but the firm acted on behalf of one party against the other.

eg. Firm represented the mother in a hearing about DVO and over breach of family orders, three years later same Firm represents the father and writes to mother on behalf of father requesting compliance on an alleged breach of orders by the mother against the father.
it is called 'conflict of interest'
It is well documented on this site, do the search - you won't be dissapointed.

mmm… I thought that, and am wondering how an experienced solicitor would ignore that fact.

Instigating a matter using a 'conflict of interest' solicitor, not so smart me thinks. Do we tell him do you think? or wait until the first court appearance and then have the judge step him down?
Experienced Solicitor….LoL,

Perhaps the need to fill the coffers overrides experience?

Be nice and give them a written objection, then, let the Judicial officer know if they don't step down.

Actually it's not a conflict of interest, it's a conflict of duty. But have you heard of chinese walls? Unless your ex used the same solicitor or one in the same area of law, probably not a problem.

Conflict of Interest


It actually is, have you been searchig here on this site?

Conflict of Interests

Legal practitioners have a duty of care to their clients; their role is to protect their clients' best interests. This includes maintaining the confidentiality of information about a client if the practitioner obtained that information as a consequence of acting for the client. A practitioner can release client information to people who are not members of the practitioner's firm only if:

   the client has authorised the practitioner to provide the information, or the practitioner is required by law to provide the information, e.g. in accordance with court orders or valid notice from the Australian Tax Office, the Department of Social Security or the Australian Securities and Investments Commission.

There are three main areas where practitioners can be faced with a conflict of interests:

   where the client's interests conflict with the practitioner's own interests where the interests of one of the practitioner's clients conflict with the interests of another of the practitioner's clients where the interests of a current client conflict with the interests of a former client.

Conflict with the legal practitioner's own interests

Practitioners must keep their own business interests and investments, and the business interests and investments of their associates (e.g. relatives or business partners) separate from the interests of their clients. For example, a solicitor who advises clients to invest in a mortgage company in which the solicitor has a personal interest might be guilty of professional misconduct. Practitioners cannot borrow money from their clients. While they can make loans to clients there may be ethical problems if they do so in some circumstances.

Further, the practitioner must not exercise any undue influence over a client for the benefit of the practitioner and/or their associates. The practitioner is entitled to fair payment for the legal services provided to the client but no more.

If it is apparent that a practitioner's interests will be in conflict with the client's interests, the practitioner must not accept the client's retainer. Similarly, if a close associate of the practitioner stands to gain from an investment or other transaction by a client then the practitioner should not act for the client in that transaction. A practitioner who has already accepted instructions from a client should terminate the client's retainer as soon as a conflict of interests is apparent.

Conflict with the interests of another client

As long as there is no dispute or disagreement between the parties to a legal transaction, the parties can both instruct the same practitioner. This may be convenient for both parties and it may save them costs. For example, a practitioner might act for the co-executors of a will. However, practitioners should avoid taking instructions from more than one party if there is any potential for a dispute. For example, acting for both the buyer and seller of a property is unwise although permitted.

A legal practitioner can accept instructions from more than one party to any proceedings or transaction only if each of the clients:

   is aware that the practitioner is intending to act for the others as well, understands that the practitioner might not be able to give all of the information relevant to the matter to all of the parties, accepts that the practitioner will not give one client advice that is against the interests of another client, and consents to the arrangement.

If it appears to the practitioner, or to any of the parties, that the interests of the parties are in conflict, the practitioner should stop acting for all of the parties. The practitioner should also offer to withdraw from the matter if the relationship between the parties breaks down, e.g. if there is disagreement between co-executors.

Conflict with the interests of a former client

A legal practitioner must not act for a new client against the interests of a former client if:

   the practitioner has confidential information about the former client which is relevant to the new proceedings, and it is reasonable for the former client to think there is a real possibility that the information would be used against them.

For example, a practitioner might have assisted a former client in the purchase of a business or other significant assets. The practitioner could not then act against that client in family law property proceedings because the information about the former client's assets would be relevant to the family law matter. However, a practitioner who acted for a former client in the sale of a house could later act against that client in a motor vehicle property damage claim because it is unlikely that any of the information obtained by the practitioner about the former client will be relevant to the later action.

There may be a conflict of interest if a member of a firm acts against someone who was previously a client of the firm. This applies even if the practitioner taking action against the former client is not the same person who previously acted for the client.

Dealing with a conflict of interests

Clients who are concerned about any conflict of interests can first raise their concerns with the practitioner. A client can also seek advice about whether they can apply to the court to have the practitioner withdraw from the matter if a conflict exists. The Commissioner does not have the power to order a practitioner to cease to act.

Practitioners can get advice from their professional bodies, the Law Society of NSW and the NSW Bar Association, if they have any doubts about whether they have a conflict of interests.

Conflict of interest is where your personal interests are in conflict with the interests of someone else.

Conflict of duty is where your duty to one client is in conflict with your duty to another client (eg. a former client) or the court.

Conflict of interest and duty is where your personal interests are in conflict with your duty to a client or the court.

Semantics aside, if it was a family lawyer representing X against Y and they now want to represent Y in a matter against X, no matter how ethical the lawyer is about not using information they garnered in the first case, it still smells like a conflict of duty and hence is no good.

Reply to Sunnyside


It's a conflict - check the cases which can be searched on - and family law cases have an even higher expectation that requires justice must be seen to be done.

The solicitor in question will be restrained by injunction from acting if they don't stand down voluntarily. Objection should be made at the first opportunity.
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