Steps to Assist in Complying with the Two-Lawyer Requirement for Transfers of Title to Real Property, Rules 3.4-16.7 to 3.4-16.9 – For Lawyers in the Same Firm

  • Determine whether two lawyers in your firm are being requested to act for, or represent both the transferor and the transferee with respect to a transfer of title to real property. 

  • If so, determine whether there is a conflict of interest that would preclude lawyers of the same firm from acting for both the transferor and the transferee in the transaction or whether this is a situation where it would not be prudent for lawyers of the same firm to accept such a retainer. If there is such a conflict, then the lawyers in the same firm either cannot or should not act for both parties. If there is no such conflict, then the lawyers in the same firm may act provided that they comply with the joint retainer rules [Rules 3.4-5 to 3.4-9 of the Rules of Professional Conduct]. 

  • Before accepting the joint retainer, the lawyers must advise both the transferor and the transferee that: 
     
    • the lawyers have been asked to act for both or all of them;  
    • no information received in connection with the matter from one can be treated as confidential so far as any of the others are concerned; and
    • If a conflict develops that cannot be resolved, you cannot continue to act for both or all of them and may have to withdraw completely.

     
  •   If the clients are agreeable to retaining you on these conditions, the lawyers must obtain each client’s informed consent by: 

    •  having the client sign a written consent; or
    • obtaining the client’s oral consent and then sending that client a letter confirming his or her consent as soon as practicable. 

     
  • If one of the clients in the joint retainer is more vulnerable or less sophisticated than the other(s), you should consider having this client obtain independent legal advice before accepting the joint retainer. 

  • If you have a continuing relationship with one of the clients for whom you act regularly, before accepting the joint retainer, the lawyers must advise the other client(s) of the continuing relationship and recommend that the other client(s) obtain independent legal advice about the joint retainer. 

  • Once you accept the joint retainer, each lawyer must assume complete professional responsibility for all documents that the lawyer electronically signs using the electronic land registration system and must comply with Section 3.4 of the Rules of Professional Conduct on conflicts of interest.