When You May Withdraw Services

You may withdraw your services if there has been a serious loss of confidence between you and your client according to rule 3.7-2 of the Code of Conduct. This may arise where the client deceives you, refuses to provide you with adequate instructions, or refuses to accept and act upon your advice on a significant point, or if there is a material breakdown in communication, for example. The failure to accept and act on your advice may amount to a loss of confidence justifying withdrawal.
A residual right to withdrawal exists in other circumstances, provided the withdrawal is not unfair to the client, or done for an improper purpose. Unfairness to the client depends on the circumstances of the case, but normally includes consideration of whether the withdrawal would:
  • occur at a stage of the proceeding that would require the client to retain another lawyer to perform some or all of the same work again;
  • leave the client insufficient time to retain a new lawyer; and
  • leave the replacement lawyer insufficient time to prepare and represent the client.
Similarly, determining what constitutes improper withdrawal depends on the circumstances of each case, but includes withdrawal in order to delay court proceedings or to assist the client in effecting an improper purpose.