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bright line rule


Beware the bright line: class action put lawyers in conflict of interest

On July 5, the Supreme Court upheld its strict test for preventing conflicts of interest in the legal profession. The appellant, Canadian National Railway (CN), was a client of the respondent law firm, McKercher LLP. Then McKercher agreed to represent the plaintiff in Wallace v. Canadian National Railway, a class action against CN and other defendants for potentially $1.75 billion. CN alleged a conflict of interest and applied to remove McKercher as lawyers for the proposed class. Writing for the Court, Chief Justice McLachlin agreed that McKercher crossed the well-entrenched “bright line rule” by acting against a current client without its consent. But she did not decide whether to remove McKercher, since she recast the legal test for that remedy and sent the question back to the court of first instance for reconsideration. [more] Full article