When You Must Withdraw Services (Obligatory Withdrawal)

Pursuant to sections 3.7-7 and 3.4-1 of the Code, you must withdraw your legal services in these situations:

  • Your client discharges you.
  • Your client persists in instructing you to act in a manner contrary to professional ethics, which may include your client taking a position solely to harass or maliciously injure another.
  • Your continuing to act will lead to a conflict of interest.
  • You are not competent to handle the matter.

Other circumstances where you must withdraw from representation are set out in:

  • Part 15 Section O¬†of the Law Society of Saskatchewan Rules, which deals with Client Identification and Verification, and requires that you withdraw from representation if you become aware that you would be assisting a client in fraud or other illegal conduct. See Rule 1548; and
  • Section 3.2-8 of the Code, which states that when you are acting for an organization and become aware of the organization acting dishonestly, fraudulently, criminally, or illegally, you must take certain steps to report the behaviour and ultimately withdraw if those to whom you report permit the organization to continue the wrongful conduct.

Overarching these specific duties, you have an obligation to the courts and tribunals, other lawyers, your client, and yourself as articulated in Code section 2.1-1. The principal of integrity is key to each element of the Code. Thus, it may be necessary to withdraw in a variety of circumstances where continuing to act may bring the administration of justice into disrepute or otherwise reflect poorly on the legal profession. For example, no client has the right to demand that you violate the law or act in a fraudulent manner. Such a demand is cause to withdraw.

Regardless of the reason for your withdrawal, always:

  • review the Code and follow any instructions regarding the manner of withdrawal,
  • inform your client of your intentions, and
  • inform the court, opposing parties, and others who may need to know of your withdrawal.