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Debra
Debra, Lawyer
Category: Canada Law
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Experience:  Lawyer
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This is a question about conflict or interest for a lawyer

Customer Question

This is a question about conflict or interest for a lawyer in BC, Canada. I used a lawyer at a firm for mortgage documents and the opposing party used a different lawyer at the same firm to represent them in a family law matter against me. Does this pose a conflict of interest?
JA: Has any conflict of interest been documented or proven?
Customer: No. I just found out the lawyers were at the same firm.
JA: Has anything been filed or reported?
Customer: No it hasn't. The only access his lawyer could have had was my financial information as it pertains to the property the mortgage is on.
JA: Anything else you want the lawyer to know before I connect you?
Customer: Yes. I used the lawyer in July 2014 and the other party retained the other lawyer at the firm in May 2016.
Submitted: 6 months ago.
Category: Canada Law
Expert:  Debra replied 6 months ago.

Hello! My name is***** you for your question. I'm reviewing it now, and will post back again shortly.

Expert:  Debra replied 6 months ago.

Did your lawyer who did the mortgage receive confidential financial information?

Customer: replied 6 months ago.
It was confidential in the fact that only she, myself and the loan provider received the information. I signed a privacy commitment in front of her to verify my identify in relation to the loan transaction.
Expert:  Debra replied 6 months ago.

But is this just about the amount of the mortgage or about your income, assets and debts?

I am trying to figure out what actual confidential information was know to this lawyer.

Customer: replied 6 months ago.
It was about by income, employment, credit score and mortgage. He wouldn't have known about my assets as that was not disclosed. He would have had also had access to my driver's license and social insurance number. I don't know if those could have been used.
Expert:  Debra replied 6 months ago.

But what is confidential?

Your SIN and driver's licence are not confidential in terms of your spouse.

Is your income or employment information something your spouse does not know?

The mortgage is not confidential.

Customer: replied 6 months ago.
The opposing party was not my spouse and we did not live together so he should not be privy to my SIN and driver's license. Nor should he know my income unless I am asked to disclose that in provincial court. He would know about my employment. We have a child together, but the circumstances around that are unfortunate. Ultimately, income information will be shared eventually because of child support. However, it would have been nice to know he had access to that information beforehand and it only seems ethical that I should have been informed.
Expert:  Debra replied 6 months ago.

The driver's licence has no relevance.

The SIN is on your income tax returns and must be produced but no one, a lawyer or otherwise, can use it to gain information.

The employment details are not confidential.

But your income may be and if the lawyer had more than your income tax returns then it very well may be a conflict.

So you may be correct and that means the new lawyer will need to step down and in fact you may be able to file a complaint with the law society as well.

But if the only income information the lawyer who did your mortgage had was on your income tax return then the lawyer acting now would not have and could not have received any confidential information.

Do you see what I mean?

It will come down to whether the income information went beyond what you would normally want to reveal and so if it goes beyond the Return there may be a conflict.

Please feel free to post back with any follow-up questions you may have. If you don't have any then I hope I have earned a 5 star rating but if you don't feel that I have please don't hesitate to reply back and let me know what more I can do to assist you. Finally, please know that even after you rate me I will be here for you and you can ask follow-up questions if you think of them later on at no further charge of course.

Customer: replied 6 months ago.
Thank you for your response. It is very helpful.
Expert:  Debra replied 6 months ago.

You are very welcome.

I am sorry this happened to you and sorry you are what appears to be a difficult situation.

Enjoy your long weekend.

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