In this section
START OF Policies and procedures
START OF Grants Handbook
START OF Applying for aid
END OF Applying for aid
END OF Grants Handbook
END OF Policies and procedures
A conflict of interest is where someone in a position of trust is serving or attempting to serve two or more interests and it would be difficult for that person to fulfil their duties impartially. A conflict of interest can exist even if no unethical or improper acts occur as a conflict of interest can be a potential or perceived conflict.
Conflict of interest can arise broadly where:
In these instances, a conflict of interest would arise as it is considered that the solicitor could not act in the best interests of their current or previous client as the solicitor may be able to obtain information which could promote one party's case to the detriment of the other.
There are some limited exceptions when a solicitor can represent any other party who has interests different to a current or previous client. These circumstances are when both parties:
In some cases, even if the above has been obtained a solicitor may still not be able to represent any other party due to the potential or perceived conflict of interest.
The conflict rules are established by the Australian Solicitors' Conduct Rules, Legal Aid Queensland solicitors and preferred suppliers are bound by these rules.
Solicitors have a professional responsibility to ensure that they do not represent a party where they may have a conflict of interest.
Under section 1.3 of Legal Aid Queensland's practice management standards preferred supplier's must ensure that there is no conflict of interest when requesting or accepting a grant of aid.
If a solicitor acts for a client where they have a conflict of interest the solicitor may be subject to disciplinary proceedings.
Under s 73 of the Legal Aid Queensland Act 1997, Legal Aid Queensland is taken to be one law firm providing legal services which means that the Brisbane office, together with all regional offices in Queensland are considered one legal firm.
Legal Aid Queensland's conflict of interest policy is in place to ensure that solicitors employed by Legal Aid Queensland do not represent any other party who has interests different to a current or previous client who is/has been represented by a solicitors employed by Legal Aid Queensland.
Legal Aid Queensland has effective information barriers in place to ensure that the flow of confidential information from one area of the organisation to another is prevented.
Although the size of regional offices precludes any prospect of establishing information barriers within offices, information barriers can be established between regional offices and Brisbane legal practice teams.
When applications for aid are received by Legal Aid Queensland, they are assessed by officers independent of the in-house legal practice.
Upon receipt of a new application the assessing officer will conduct a previous dealing search within Legal Aid Queensland's client database to identify if there are any active or previous files that relate to the applicant or any other parties.
Prior to referring any matter to the in-house legal practice, assessing officers will ensure that before allocating a grant of aid to an in-house solicitor there is no conflict of interest with an in-house solicitor acting on behalf of the applicant.
An assessing officer will determine there is the potential for an actual or perceived conflict of interest, and the matter will be referred to a preferred supplier when:
An assessing officer will determine that no conflict of interest exists and the matter may be referred to the in-house legal practice when:
An assessing officer will determine there is the potential for an actual conflict of interest, and the matter may be referred to a preferred supplier when: