Federation completes Model Code conflicts of interest provisions

(Posted on December 19, 2011)

The Council of the Federation of Law Societies of Canada has approved an update to the Federation’s Model Code of Professional Conduct (the “Model Code”) by revising the conflicts of interest rule to incorporate provisions that deal with acting against current clients (the “Current Client Rule”).

In 2009, the Model Code was adopted without a rule on conflicts of interest pending further study by the Federation’s Advisory Committee on Conflicts of Interest. That committee submitted reports to Council in June 2010 dealing with the rule on conflicts of interest and in February 2011 dealing more specifically with the Current Client Rule.

In March 2011, the Council directed the Federation’s Standing Committee on the Model Code of Professional Conduct to consider the reports of the Advisory Committee and the recommended formulation of the Current Client Rule. At that time Council adopted a rule on conflicts of interest as part of the Model Code, but without a Current Client Rule.

In November, the Standing Committee issued its report on conflicts of interest recommending a revised rule and changes to the definitions section of the Model Code. The Federation Council approved the Standing Committee’s recommendations at a meeting held on December 13, 2011. The report of the Standing Committee is available here. The mandate of the Standing Committee includes ongoing review of the Model Code.

The adoption of the Model Code by the Federation reflects a belief that the public should be able to expect the same ethical requirements to apply wherever their legal advisor may practice law. A number of law societies have implemented or are in the process of implementing the Model Code and it is expected that over time, any significant differences in rules of conduct across Canada will be eliminated.