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在委任關係結束後律師有什麼義務?

在律師與當事人委任關係結束後,律師需要明白自己信守對於前客戶的道德和職業準則的重要性。通常在業務交易或訴訟事宜接近尾聲時,委任關係的終結有時是可以預料並且很友善的。但有時委任關係的終止卻是意料之外且不歡而散的,比如說雙方意見不合,當事人要求撤回委任,或兩方關係破裂,導致當事人和律師之委任關係,不得不中止。 

對前客戶所擁有的職責

加州法律強制規定,律師在律師-當事人委任關係結束後,仍需對客戶擁有持續有限的責任忠誠義務。這個職責發生在當一名律師在代表新客戶或當他們的獨立業務或私人事情有可能違反對前客戶的忠誠職責的情況下,該律師被要求必須保護前客戶的權利。律師對客戶的忠誠職責在加州職業行為規則中有提到,但是卻沒有被明確定義。通常前述職責涉關不得任意披露前客戶相關之保密信息。此外,加州法規3-100聲明概述了律師有”忠誠的職責和資格”,對於怎樣的行為屬於”未能履行職責”亦有提及。

在與客戶的關係結束後,加州法律禁止律師(1)做任何傷害之前代理過的前客戶的行為,並且(2)使用之前合作關係中獲取的內容或信息而對前客戶造成傷害。 在Oasis West Realty有限責任公司 對Goldman一案例中, Goldman在Oasis擔任顧問並在他們的努力下獲取了城市重建項目的許可。51 Cal.4th 811, 821 (2011). 兩年後Goldman結束了他和Oasis的關係,但是他卻在日後支持了該項目的反對派。Goldman聲稱他的行為是受加州法保護的,針對公眾參與的策略性訴訟,係屬於公共活動的言論自由,但是加州最高法院卻否定了Goldman的辯解。

法院認為律師作為受託人,具有”忠誠和保密職責”,縱然與客戶之委任關係結束後,仍持續具有效力,引用 Wutchumna Water有限公司 對 Bailey一案. 216 Cal. 564, 573 (1932). 在Wutchumna Water一案中,加州最高法院認為法院要保護客戶對”忠誠之合理期望,以確保委任關係之有效運作,而這全然取決於客戶對律師的信任和信心。”保密職責要求律師不得公開客戶的保密信息,將前客戶置於不利的處境。” Oasis West Realty, 51 Cal.4th at 823; Rest. 3d Law Governing Lawyer § 60, Comment (c)(i).

加州法規3-310(E)規定,一名律師不能夠接受不利於客戶或前客戶的委任,因為律師掌握著這些客人的保密信息。根據加州上訴法院2011年對 H.F. Ahmanson & Co.. 對. Salomon Brothers, 公司的裁決,據推測律師和latter兩者間建立實質聯系的時候,掌控著不利於前客戶的保密信息229 Cal.App.3d 1445 (1991). 實質聯系是由三個事實決定的: 事實相似,法律相似,以及本質和之前代理時律師的參與程度。當有實質聯系的時候,使用或公開客戶的保密信息都不是觸發該職責的必需原因。如果在未經後續表示或雇傭許可,或不利於前客戶的情況下,使用或公開加州法規3-100 保護的信息是有”重大風險”並違法了加州法規 3-310(E)。 Galbraith v. State Bar, 218 Cal. 329, 333 (1933); 也可以參考美國航空. 對 Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton, 96 Cal.App.4th 1017, 1040-1041 (2002).

若日後兩個事件建立了實質的關聯,則推定律師握有保密訊息即屬對前客戶不利229 Cal.App.3d 1445 (1991). 所謂的實質關聯由三個因素決定: 事實相似,法律相似,以及本質和之前代理時律師的參與程度。當有實質關聯時,使用或公開客戶的保密信息都不是觸發該職責的必要原因(亦即縱然沒有使用或公開,因握有前客戶的保密訊息,已直接違反了對前客戶的保密義務)。若加州法規3-100所保護的訊息,具有未經同意就被使用或揭露之實質上的風險,且此使用和揭露是違反前客戶的利益時,此際,即違反了加州法規 3-310(E)。Galbraith v. State Bar, 218 Cal. 329, 333 (1933); 也可以參考American Airlines, Inc 對 Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton案, 96 Cal.App.4th 1017, 1040-1041 (2002).

加州法規限制了對前雇主的職責

除了加州之外,美國律師協會的職業行為示範規則 (示範規則)已經被49個州採納 。 示範規則1.9(a) (”對前客戶的職責”)明確包含了律師有職責避免對前客人不忠,並尊重對客戶所執行的工作,以及保護客戶保密信息等職責。加州現在的法規沒有明確的表明這兩條職責,加州法規 3-310(E)僅認可”將前客戶之保密信息用於現任客戶的案件,作為重要不可或缺的證據,此已嚴重迫害前客戶之權益。”加州的建議規劃1.9,亦承認忠誠和保密職責。同時,加州許多判例,亦廣泛地承認對前客戶負有職業道德及保密義務等基本原則。

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