Risk Update

Conflicts & Claims — Malpractice Claims (Conflicts & Other Risks), International (Nationality) Conflicts Allegation

More Bang for Your Blunder: Rise in Severity of Legal Malpractice Claims” —

  • “It has long been recognized by industry experts that financial stress for clients and general economic instability or uncertainty can lead to an uptick in claims against attorneys. And recent data indicates that attorney mistakes are becoming more expensive. Legal malpractice claims are becoming more expensive to defend. And others have observed that a remote work landscape can lead to new kinds of severe claims, such as those arising from remote supervision of junior attorneys and staff, ever-present cyber security risks, and issues related to the rush to hire attorneys.””Allegations of conflicts of interest are among the most common—and most dangerous—claims that can be made against attorneys.”
  • “It is expected that claims arising from conflicts of interest may be exacerbated by expedited hiring processes in the competitive lateral market. Although conflicts can be complex, using established conflict systems to accurately identify and swiftly resolve conflicts of interest is a common tool that can help reduce exposure to law firm and attorneys alike. These systems, however, are inherently limited by the information they process.”
  • “If attorneys do not take steps to thoroughly identify the right parties to cross-check for potential conflicts, a conflict of interest might pass through the system unnoticed and create exposure for the firm. As the old adage goes, ‘Garbage in, garbage out.’ Many law firms and attorneys take steps to ensure the system considers accurate and timely information to enable proper conflict checks.”
  • “While some attorneys may think the identification of conflict of interest means the representation must end, that is not always the case. There may be ways to resolve the conflict through the use of waivers or screening procedures. Simply choosing to ignore potential or established conflicts, however, can create risks that are becoming increasingly more expensive to resolve.”
  • “Another commonly alleged malpractice error that may be intensified in the era of remote working involves missed deadlines or failures to timely file. Use of docketing or calendaring systems is obviously a tool that can help mitigate the risk of a missed deadline. Although deadlines can still be missed even where such a system is being used, the use of those systems may evidence the firm’s efforts to avoid risk, rebutting any argument that the firm was careless in tracking deadlines.”
  • “Another ripe area for legal malpractice claims involve allegations that lawyers have failed to learn about recent law or failed to properly apply it.”

Hong Kong asks Beijing to step in into row over UK lawyer” —

  • “Hong Kong’s leader said on Monday he will ask Beijing to rule whether to let foreign lawyers be involved in national security cases after the city’s top court allowed a prominent pro-democracy publisher to hire a British lawyer for his upcoming trial.”
  • “‘At present, there is no effective means to ensure that a counsel from overseas will not have conflict of interest because of his nationality. And there is also no means to ensure that he has not been coerced, compromised, or in any way controlled by foreign governments, associations or persons,”’ he said. “
  • “The move was targeting overseas counsels who do not have the general practice qualification to carry out legal service in Hong Kong, he added.”
  • “Lai, the founder of the now-defunct Apple Daily and one of the most prominent figures in the city’s pro-democracy movement, was arrested after Beijing imposed a tough national security law to crack down on dissent following widespread protests in 2019. He faces collusion charges and a maximum penalty of life imprisonment. “
  • “Hong Kong, a former British colony that returned to China in 1997, uses the same common law jurisdiction as the U.K. Apart from having overseas judges in the city’s courts, lawyers from other common law jurisdictions can work within the city’s legal system, especially when their expertise are needed for some cases.”
  • “Last month, the lower court granted the approval for him [‘Timothy Owen, a London-based legal veteran who specializes in criminal and human rights law.’] to represent Lai, saying it was in the public interest to have an eminent overseas specialist like Owen involved at the trial. But the secretary of justice insisted on his objections despite other judges rejecting his bids to overturn that ruling. He suggested a blanket ban on overseas lawyers involved in national security cases unless under exceptional circumstances.”
  • “The National Security Law criminalizes acts of succession, subversion, terrorism, and collusion with foreign forces. It has led to the arrests of many prominent democracy activists and damaged faith in the future of the international financial hub.”