Posted on: November 18, 2021 by Huntersure LLC.
Every attorney wants to see their client succeed, but this success should never come at the expense of honesty. Unfortunately, though, clients cannot always be trusted to tell the truth. What happens if a client commits perjury, and how can lawyers minimize their liability in such a scenario? Investing in insurance can mitigate lawyer professional liability and ensure that an attorney isn’t held responsible for their client’s misguided actions. For attorneys who become aware of their client’s dishonesty, though, there are a few steps that should be followed. Consider the following facts about how an attorney must deal with perjury.
A common form of perjury is the misrepresentation of identity. Many defendants will provide a false name to an arresting officer in an attempt to conceal a prior record of arrest or criminal conviction. If a lawyer happens to learn that the identity their client presented is not their real name, is it mandatory to reveal their true identity? Because of attorney-client privilege and the client’s right against self-incrimination, this information does not necessarily have to be revealed. If, however, the client intends to testify in court using their alias, it is the duty of the attorney to dissuade or report their client.
If a lawyer becomes aware that their client intends to commit perjury in court — but has not yet done so — it is imperative that the attorney first try to dissuade their client from lying. Though perjury is not often prosecuted, it poses a threat to any attorney who may face professional liability if their client lies. Attorneys should make every effort to prevent client perjury by explaining to their client that they will have to report dishonesty to the court.
If efforts to prevent client perjury are unsuccessful, and a client does indeed lie, it is the responsibility of their attorney to withdraw from representation. Withdrawing from the case is not just an ethical mandate — it’s in the best interest of the attorney, too, to minimize potential liability for the lies that their client tells. Withdrawing from the case does not necessarily excuse the fraud that’s been committed, though, so lawyers should take additional steps to inform the court of their client’s perjury.
Finally, if a client has committed perjury and refuses to reveal the truth of their own accord, it is their lawyer’s responsibility to disclose the truth to the judge in the case. This is typically done after withdrawing from the case. Doing so is an ethical obligation, but it’s also a protective measure for attorneys. Representing a client who’s later found to be guilty of perjury can have a hugely detrimental impact on a lawyer’s professional reputation.
Huntersure LLC is a full-service Managing General Agency that has provided insurance program administration for professional liability products to our partners across the United States since 2007. We specialize in providing insurance solutions for businesses of all sizes. Our program features can cover small firms (grossing $2.5 million annually) to large corporations (grossing $25 million annually or more). We make doing business with us easy with our breadth and depth of knowledge of E&O insurance, our proprietary underwriting system that allows for responsive quoting, binding and policy issuance and tailored products to meet the needs of your insureds. Give us a call at (855) 585-6255 to learn more.
Posted in: Lawyer's professional liability insurance