What are our obligations to a client with a cognitive disability?

The case Connollys Lawyers Pty Ltd v Davis1 is a reminder that:

  • where a client is unable to read, the law practice must arrange for the information required to be disclosed to a client to be conveyed orally to the client in addition to written disclosure (s 314(2) LPA);
  • that where a client has a disability that may affect the client’s comprehension of what is being disclosed, it would be prudent for the law practice to convey the information orally in a way that can be comprehended by the client (this is part of our fiduciary obligation to make full and accurate disclosure);
  • it is also an ethical responsibility that we not place our own interest in conflict with our duty to serve the best interests of our client2 and not to use our position vis-à-vis the client unless the client has freely and with full knowledge consented to the costs terms of the retainer; and
  • the need to provide in writing the disclosure of any substantial change to anything previously disclosed (including estimates) as soon as reasonably practical after becoming aware of the change.3

1 Connollys Lawyers Pty Ltd v Davis [2013] QCA 231, [22].

2 Australian Solicitors Conduct Rules 2012 (Qld) r 12.1.

3 Legal Profession Act 2007 (Qld) s 315.