The Law Society’s Ethics Committee recently released the following Ethics Ruling as guidance for the profession. For your convenience, I’ve listed the ruling below but it can also be found in our Ethics Rulings Database.
If you have any questions or concerns regarding this post, please contact the Law Society at (306) 569-8242 or 1-833-733-0133.
Date: April 26, 2018
Cite as: 2018 SKLSPC 5
Classification: Confidential Information, Rule 3.3-1
Practice Area: Criminal Law
Ethics Committee Ruling
Lawyer X works at the Law Firm ABC. Client A received their disclosure directly, before retaining Law Firm ABC and therefore defence counsel was not placed under trust conditions regarding the disclosure. Lawyer A of Law Firm ABC represented Client A on criminal charges. Following the conclusion of the file, Lawyer A was approached by the victim who wanted information on Client A’s file. Lawyer A advised the victim that they could not disclose anything to the victim without Client A’s instructions, due to solicitor-client privilege. The victim then advised Lawyer A that she had reviewed the disclosure with Lawyer X.
Lawyer X acknowledged that they met with the victim and read the Crown disclosure with the victim. Lawyer X indicated that this was done in hopes that once the victim saw the evidence, the victim could accept the result. Lawyer X further stated that while the victim requested a copy of the disclosure, this request was refused, and the victim was told to talk to the Crown for that. Lawyer X has indicated that by reviewing the disclosure with the victim they were hoping to fulfil the mandate of the Canadian Victims Bill of Rights, S.C. 2015, c.13, s.2.
The Ethics Committee determined that the case of R. v. Lucas (1996), 137 Sask R 312 (C.A.) was unequivocal: material which is disclosed for the purpose of making full answer and defence should not be released to third parties by the lawyer representing the accused. Lawyer X’s firm, Law Firm ABC, represented the accused and possessed the disclosure for the purpose making full answer and defence. The victim was not Lawyer X’s client. While the victim, acting under the Canadian Victims Bill of Rights, has the right to request information about the location, progress and outcome of the legal proceedings, Lawyer X was not entitled to review the disclosure with the victim.