The Duty of Confidentiality
Trusting your attorney can be a difficult thing, particularly if they are someone that you have never met before. Most people are aware that their lawyer has some obligation to protect the information that they disclose through the attorney-client privilege, but is that the only thing that protects them? The good news is that your attorney is also going to be bound by the duty of confidentiality. It helps to know exactly what this term could mean for you and your upcoming case though.
If you want to be certain that your attorney is following the rules, you need to understand the basics of this concept. Let’s take a closer look at the duty of confidentiality and what it means for your case now.
What is Duty of Confidentiality?
According to the Canadian Bar Association, the duty of confidentiality states that the attorney cannot reveal any information about the relationship with their client without the client’s informed consent to do so. A client must know all of the potential risks and alternatives of revealing information before they can give their direct consent to share the information with others or with the court. Without doing so, the attorney could face serious penalties from the bar.
On the other hand, there is also implied consent that authorizes the attorney to share information with others without receiving formal approval. For example, they may share details of a case with other lawyers in the firm for a second opinion or extra help doing research. Unless a client specifically asks them not to share information this way, an attorney can assume that there is an implied authorization to do so when they are hired.
The duty of confidentiality also applies to clients who former clients or those who are just interviewing lawyers. This means that an attorney who has been interviewed to represent you cannot reveal that information to anyone else who comes along. It cannot be used to disadvantage you in any way.
Are there Exceptions?
Unfortunately, the duty of confidentiality does not apply all of the time. It can occasionally be waived when other circumstances arise that stand in the way of someone’s safety or when sharing the information could be more beneficial for the court case. Here are just a few of the times when attorneys may make an exception to the duty of confidentiality:
- When someone is in imminent danger of death or bodily harm
- To prevent a crime or fraud that is likely to injure the property or financial status of another person
- To prevent, mitigate, or rectify substantial property or financial injury to another person
- To obtain advice on the ethical path
- To establish a claim or defense on behalf of the attorney
- To comply with a law or court order
- To identify or resolve conflicts related to a lawyer’s change of employment
Understanding what the duty of confidentiality means for your case is essential to helping you successfully win a case. When you need recognized criminal lawyers in Winnipeg, be sure to give Matthew Gould a call!