Withdrawal of Legal Services
Treat Your Client Fairly
While it is fair for your client to withdraw from the relationship with you at any time, the converse is not true. You have a responsibility to ensure that your client is treated fairly.
There are rules governing when you may and when you must withdraw your services and procedures that must be followed in each situation. First, a lawyer must not withdraw from representation of a client except for good cause and on reasonable notice to the client. See section 3.7 of the Law Society of New Brunswick Code of Professional Conduct, hereinafter “Code of Conduct” for more information. There are no clear rules to explain what constitutes reasonable notice to the client. When the matter is governed by statutory provisions or rules of court, these will govern. In other circumstances, the governing principle is that you should protect the client’s interests to the best of your ability, and you should not abandon your client at a critical stage of a matter.
Lawyers owe a duty of “candour, fairness, courtesy and respect” to the courts and other tribunals, as articulated in rule 5.1-1 of the Code of Conduct. Your withdrawal from a matter should not be permitted to waste court time or prevent other counsel from reallocating time or resources scheduled for the matter in question.
The decision to withdraw from representing a client is a matter of professional responsibility; to withdraw in a manner or in circumstances contrary to the provisions of section 3.7 of the Code of Conduct will expose you to the Complaints process set forth in the Act. If you have undertaken to represent a client, you should do so as ably as possible unless there is justifiable cause for termination of the relationship. It is inappropriate for you to withdraw from a matter on capricious or arbitrary grounds. See the commentary to rule 3.7-1 for more