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Main Discussion

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Lib-Dem-Cyp-ree-en
Posted - 12 January 2017 10:02
it's not his lawyer - the other side of one actual dispute, and the other side of one commercial negotiation/potential dispute are both using the same lawyers.
wango has voted
Posted - 12 January 2017 10:07
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Sounds like the firm has decided there is no conflict and no risk of confidential info. Which seems like bollocks to me - if it's the same area and client A for example produces a piece of evidence that's confi to them but would be vital to client B's case the firm has tied itself in a ladypart 's knot. And (altho without knowing the nature of the dispute it's hard to tell) the risk of potential conflict seems pretty high to me clive
wango has voted
Posted - 12 January 2017 10:11
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Brad, do you ever worry you've gone a bit cynical?
Gravitas? What Gravitas?
Posted - 12 January 2017 10:23
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Hang on who is advising whom? Are you saying that law firm A (let's call them khuntflaps llp) are advising the two (actual or potential) claimants?

In that case I don't see a conflict...

If one claimant come across some info that may be useful to the other then (provided it is not confidential to your mate) I don't see what is to stop the khuntflaps partner suggesting the two parties get together (again the danger is one or other claimant releasing info that is confidential to the other, but that's a confidntiality point between the claimant and your m7 not the firm). I think.

TBH I'm a fraud of a lawyer too.
Lib-Dem-Cyp-ree-en
Posted - 12 January 2017 10:27
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Yeah, that's what I thought. Meh.
Lord Admiral Lib Dem
Posted - 12 January 2017 11:46
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There is no conflict of interest here.

The same firm is advising two different claimant parties against the same defendant.

Are you all fvcking simple or something?
Nexis
Posted - 12 January 2017 11:52
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It sounds like there isn't a conflict in the positions of the two clients at the moment, but if there could be, or if confidential information in one dispute could be used in the other, the firm should put a Chinese Wall in place. I've been involved in some cast-of-thousands cases where there were a couple of instances of two claimants/defendants using the same law firm, but always different teams and always Chinese Walled.

If your mate isn't happy, the easiest thing to do would be to instruct someone else. I'm happy to have a chat offline if you want. I might even recommend someone who isn't me.
Parsnip
Posted - 12 January 2017 12:04
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The rule is simple re chinese walls - they are about confidentiality and not conflicts

A duty of confidentiality is owed to both clients
A duty of full disclosure is owed to both clients
You cant fully disclose something that is confidential so the firm can't act
unless
the parties waive the duty of confidentiality or the parties agree that the firm has put in place a barrier to prevent the confidential information being available to the two separate teams working. This needs consent. It cant be done without consent. The barrier has to be physical and electronic. its unlikely a team would be able to create that barrier for example if they worked in the same location with the same printers / secretaries - perhaps on different floors or in different offices.
Valkaaydn
Posted - 12 January 2017 14:38
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Doesn't sound like a technical legal conflict at this stage - but you never know how the situations may develop, so given the main issue is the same I'd say there's a potential risk of a conflict in future. What if the lawsuits have the potential to bankrupt the company, if successful? Which client would get what amounts? I assume the engagement letters contain a clause stating that the firm can withdraw if it identifies conflicts down the line?

Confidentiality is deffo a concern here. If it were to go tits-up, how confident would the firm feel in arguing in court / to the SRA that it was entirely ok to use the same team of lawyers?

At the very least, each client should be made aware of the firm's role for the other one. Obtaining consent to act using the same team (or even a different team with info barriers) is probably a good idea, however there is some case law on info barriers / conflicts / confi info which, if I recall correctly, suggests that in some scenarios info barriers are not sufficient (info invariably "leaks" through a firm and with Wobbler being a longstanding client of the firm I imagine the firm will have a good level of confi info on the client's business). I remember another case where the judges said that a client could be considered a "layman" - depending on the subject matter in question - which could call into question the validity of any consent obtained from them.

Lib-Dem-Cyp-ree-en
Posted - 12 January 2017 14:47
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UP, that's M&S telling Freshfields they couldn't act for Green in an M&S takeover as they'd previously acted for M&S.

Apparently J's company has a non-binding mou for trading partners that says they will keep materials confidential. He's going to remind both parties of if.
Archibald
Posted - 12 January 2017 14:52
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Surely they would just use an IB to be safe? or Safer at least? seems odd. Is team 1 very small and the only people that could undertake the work
Valkaaydn
Posted - 12 January 2017 15:14
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There's also a case involving some dodgy Russian / Ukrainian folk and White & Case
Cofferdam
Posted - 12 January 2017 15:30
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what wango said and heh @ people trying to interpret this in anything other than the obvious ways.

Cyp - you know the answer.