Conflicts of Interest in Canada: The McKercher Decision

Legal Ethics 17:2, Forthcoming

Ottawa Faculty of Law Working Paper No. 2014-31

5 Pages Posted: 22 Nov 2014

See all articles by Alain Roussy

Alain Roussy

University of Ottawa - Faculty of Law

Date Written: November 21, 2014

Abstract

The most important legal ethics decision in Canada in 2013 – and arguably the most important legal ethics story in Canada for that year – came straight from Canada’s top court. Canadian National Railway Co. v. McKercher LLP is a decision on conflicts of interest that finally provides much needed clarity to this area of the law. The Supreme Court of Canada was asked to determine whether a law firm can accept a retainer to act against a current client on a matter unrelated to that client’s existing files. In answering the question, the Court reviewed and refined its conflict of interest analysis (including its “bright line rule”) first articulated in R. v. Neil and Strother v. 3464920 Canada Inc. Despite, this refinement, however, there remains enough flexibility for creative arguments in future cases.

Keywords: Canadian National Railway, McKercher, Neil, Strother, conflict of interest, lawyer-client relationship, solicitor-client relationship, legal ethics, bright line rule

Suggested Citation

Roussy, Alain, Conflicts of Interest in Canada: The McKercher Decision (November 21, 2014). Legal Ethics 17:2, Forthcoming; Ottawa Faculty of Law Working Paper No. 2014-31. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2529092

Alain Roussy (Contact Author)

University of Ottawa - Faculty of Law ( email )

57 Louis Pasteur Street
Ottawa, Ontario K1N 6N5
Canada

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