Conflicts: The Basics (continued)
A guiding principle is established in the Law Society of New Brunswick Code of Professional Conduct (hereinafter, the "Code of Conduct”) in rule 3.2-2, Honesty and Candour, and paragraph  of the commentary:
3.2-2 When advising a client, a lawyer must be honest and candid and must inform the client of all information known to the lawyer that may affect the interests of the client in the matter.
Paragraph  of the commentary: A lawyer should disclose to the client all the circumstances of the lawyer’s relations to the parties and interest in or connection with the controversy, if any, which might influence whether the client selects or continues to retain the lawyer.
The term “conflict of interest” is defined in the Code as follows:
“A “conflict of interest” means the existence of a substantial risk that a lawyer’s loyalty to or representation of a client would be materially and adversely affected by the lawyer's own interest or the lawyer’s duties to another client, former client, or a third person.”
This definition is expanded in section 3.4 of the Code of Conduct which discusses the duty to avoid conflicts of interest. The Code of Conduct provides that the lawyer-client relationship is based on trust. It is a fiduciary relationship and as such, the lawyer has a duty of loyalty to the client. To maintain public confidence in the integrity of the legal profession and the administration of justice, it is essential that lawyers respect the duty of loyalty (see paragraph  of rule 3.4-1 of the Code of Conduct). It is important to remember that lawyers owe both a duty of loyalty and of confidentiality to current and former clients.
In order to fully appreciate the issue, in addition to considering the guidelines set out in the Code of Conduct, you must have an understanding of the evolution of the common law regarding the legal profession and conflicts of interest.