The liability of lawyers to the adversaries of clients

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This article considers the circumstances in which a lawyer, when acting for client X, may owe obligations to a third party whose interests are adverse to those of client X — that is, an ‘opposite’ party. This question is an important one because where lawyers conduct themselves in ways such that obligations to parties in opposition with their clients arise, absent a retainer, they may be required to protect the interests of those opposite parties and perhaps even take positive steps to do so. Lawyers may therefore not be able appropriately to discharge their obligations to their clients as well as the opposite parties. Although circumstances in which such liabilities arise are rare, nonetheless such liabilities are at times imposed in tort law (and on other legal grounds), including where lawyers have expressly or impliedly accepted responsibility for adversaries and failed to protect such parties’ interests by fulfilling professional and ethical duties.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)305-323
Number of pages19
JournalAustralian Bar Review
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2021


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