15 Jul Counsel Removed Due To Conflict of Interest

Difficult legal and personal issues may arise where a passenger in a vehicle claims for damages against a driver or vice versa – especially where there are important relationships involved between these persons.  In certain circumstances, a lawyer who has met with both parties cannot represent either.  That is the case in Hanlan v. Wilson, 2016 BCSC 372.

On December 12, 2012, the Plaintiff says he suffered injury in a hit-and-run accident that occurred when he rode as a passenger in a van with his common-law wife, Ms. Wilson. Both the Plaintiff and Ms. Wilson attended at the office of a lawyer, whom they retained to represent them in connection with their injuries. The lawyer later explained that he would not be able to represent Ms. Wilson, since she would have to be named as a Defendant in the action, creating a conflict of interest.

When the Plaintiff filed his claim he named Ms. Wilson as a Defendant.  Ms. Wilson then applied to have the lawyer removed as counsel due to a conflict of interest. In support of her application, Ms. Wilson argued that she, the Plaintiff and the lawyer had met and discussed the case on multiple occasions. As a result, Ms. Wilson said that the lawyer obtained confidential information from her, in the context of a lawyer-client relationship, which could prejudice her in the litigation.

In allowing Ms. Wilson’s application, the Court noted that while the removal of the lawyer as counsel for the Plaintiff would cause hardship to the Plaintiff, it would not be “unduly difficult” for the Plaintiff to obtain new counsel ahead of an upcoming trial date.  In finding that the circumstances justified the lawyer’s removal as counsel for the Plaintiff, the Court concluded that the lawyer was unable to prove that no confidential information had passed between he and Ms. Wilson during the time that he acted as her lawyer.

If you have been hurt in an accident involving this issue, you should contact one of our lawyers as soon as possible.