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Rules of Professional Conduct

Rule 4.1: Truthfulness in Statements to Others

In the course of representing a client, a lawyer shall not knowingly:
   (a) Make a false statement of material fact or law to a third person; or
   (b) Fail to disclose a material fact to a third person when disclosure is necessary to avoid assisting a criminal or fraudulent act by a client, unless disclosure is prohibited by Rule 1.6.



   [1] A lawyer is required to be truthful when dealing with others on a client’s behalf, but generally has no affirmative duty to inform an opposing party of relevant facts. A misrepresentation can occur if the lawyer incorporates or affirms a statement of another person that the lawyer knows is false. Misrepresentations can also occur by partially true but misleading statements or omissions that are the equivalent of affirmative false statements. For dishonest conduct that does not amount to a false statement or for misrepresentations by a lawyer other than in the course of representing a client, see Rule 8.4. The term “third person” as used in paragraphs (a) and (b) refers to any person or entity other than the lawyer’s client.

Statements of Fact
   [2] This rule refers to material statements of fact. Whether a particular statement should be regarded as material, and as one of fact, can depend on the circumstances. Under generally accepted conventions in negotiation, certain types of statements ordinarily are not taken as statements of material fact. Estimates of price or value placed on the subject of a transaction and a party’s intentions as to an acceptable settlement of a claim are ordinarily in this category, and so is the existence of an undisclosed principal except where nondisclosure of the principal would constitute fraud. Lawyers should be mindful of their obligations under applicable law to avoid criminal and tortious misrepresentation. There may be other analogous situations.

Fraud by Client
   [3] Under Rule 1.2(e), a lawyer is prohibited from counseling or assisting a client in conduct that the lawyer knows is criminal or fraudulent. Paragraph (b) states a specific application of the principle set forth in Rule 1.2(e) and addresses the situation where a client’s crime or fraud takes the form of a lie or misrepresentation. Ordinarily, a lawyer can avoid assisting a client’s crime or fraud by withdrawing from the representation. Sometimes it may be necessary for the lawyer to give notice of the fact of withdrawal and to disaffirm an opinion, document, affirmation or the like. In extreme cases, substantive law may require a lawyer to disclose client information to avoid being deemed to have assisted the client’s crime or fraud. If the lawyer can avoid assisting a client’s crime or fraud only by disclosing such client information, then under paragraph (b) the lawyer is required to do so, unless the disclosure is prohibited by Rule 1.6. If, in the particular circumstances in which the lawyer finds himself or herself, the lawyer has discretion to disclose a client confidence or secret under Rule 1.6(c), (d), or (e), disclosure is not prohibited by Rule 1.6, and the lawyer must disclose the information if otherwise required by this rule.