Conflict of Interest? Using same family lawyer as conveyance

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jarado99

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7 August 2017
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Hi . My brother is currently going through separation with his wife and they are selling their house. She wants to use the same solicitor that she is using for family law for the conveyancing. I would have thought this would be a conflict of interest though?
 

Rob Legat - SBPL

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16 February 2017
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If it's just the ex-wife using the solicitor for conveyancing (i.e. your brother has separate representation), there's no conflict of interest. If the family law solicitor is intended to act for both the ex-wife and your brother then there is absolutely a conflict of interest and he should flat out refuse - regardless of whether it is 'someone else at the firm' or not.
 

jarado99

Active Member
7 August 2017
5
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Hi Rob, Thanks for the reply... Just wanted to clarify something...

If the solicitor is being used for family law matters (by the wife only) and engaged to act in for conveyancing for both parties (him & her), are you saying that is a conflict of interest? Your message says " If the family law solicitor is intended to act for both the ex-wife and your brother " but to clarify it is not the family lawyer acting for both, just the conveyancing arm of the firm.

Some feedback we have received is it is okay for the firm to act as conveyancing for both of them? Its confusing!

Thanks again!
 

Rob Legat - SBPL

Lawyer
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16 February 2017
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Gold Coast, Queensland
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Best practice is that they do not act for both parties, regardless of whether it is the 'conveyancing arm' or not. Some firms will do it however, and rely on what used to be known as a 'Chinese Wall' but now gets PC'd in to something like 'information barrier'. That is an ethical obligation not to look at/discuss/access the information.

I'd personally have a problem with that. You're relying on both intentional access and non-intentional accidents not happening. If they do, it could be disastrous for your brother. It will also mean that that firm is in a lot of trouble and then cannot act for any party in either transaction.

It may cause more runaround and short-term headache (and cost) but I strongly suggest your brother get independent representation for his part in the conveyance. Extra hassle be damned - it's better than having his information somehow end up contaminating the family law matter.