31. Inadvertent disclosure
- Unless otherwise permitted or compelled by law, a solicitor to whom material known or reasonably suspected to be confidential is disclosed by another solicitor, or by some other person and who is aware that the disclosure was inadvertent must not use the material and must:
- return, destroy or delete the material (as appropriate) immediately upon becoming aware that disclosure was inadvertent; and
- notify the other solicitor or the other person of the disclosure and the steps taken to prevent inappropriate misuse of the material.
- A solicitor who reads part or all of the confidential material before becoming aware of its confidential status must:
- notify the opposing solicitor or the other person immediately; and
- not read any more of the material.
- If a solicitor is instructed by a client to read confidential material received in error, the solicitor must refuse to do so.
The purpose of this Guidance Statement is to outline what a practitioner should do if they inadvertently receive confidential information from another solicitor or a third party under the Australian Solicitors Conduct Rules 2012 (‘ASCR’) and the common law.
This Guidance Statement raises the ethical issues practitioners should consider when engaging in social media.