The Lawyer’s Confidentiality Rule

The fundamental concept of a lawyer and also the relevance of client confidentiality are evident to even probably the most unaware person. If a situation arises when the lawyer has to disclose the information as a legal obligation or as the client’s request he may do so.

There needs to exist a frank and honest professional relationship between a lawyer and the client which is why this rule was put in place. Lawyers are therefore not allowed to divulge any information they come to know under this rule.

The rule can be used anyhow. The rule gives the clients the option of being secretive with their involvement with the lawyer.

The validity of the agreement extends to a period even after the lawyer no longer defends his client. Even when the identity of the client is unknown, the lawyer cannot talk about the case. Due to fewer numbers of people, the identity of the client often ends up being discovered.

One interesting exception to the rule is when disclosure of information is necessary to prevent a crime. For example, if client states that they intend to steal a car, the lawyer can contact the authorities if they choose.

If violence is involved the lawyer is required to inform the proper authorities at any cost. The information must be brought to the attention of the police if the client wants to rob a bank. Such a situation makes public security more important that the right to secrecy.

The lawyers are extremely confused about what they ought to do should the clients confess a past crime. Cases like these are also exceptional since the disclosure will not result in anything but the incrimination of the client and thus, the information should not be disclosed. The exception becomes further complicated if the crime was committed in the very recent past, say the same day.

After this happened one time, this anomaly was brought to light. A lawyer did not disclose some video tapes he had for almost 17 months while a murder case was on and the disclosure could have had the criminal put behind bars. A lot of negative feedback and public uproar forced the Law Society of Upper Canada to revise its approach towards the confidentiality rule.

Lawyers need to ensure that nobody in their office violates the confidentiality rule as well. Many lawyers are not aware that anything that is present in the court files is actually accessible by the public. Extreme caution needs to be exercised regarding the information that is put inside these court files to prevent public access.

The confidentiality rule makes an exception if hiding any information is beneficial for the lawyer or anyone else. Although lawyers are not advised against writing an autobiography, their books can in no way give out any such information as a requirement from the lawyer’s code of conduct. Due to the same reason, most of the lawyer’s write up is ‘made-up’.