What is a Conflict of Interest?

The Midland Information, Debt and Legal Advocacy Service Inc. (MIDLAS) is a Community Legal Centre that aims to empower disadvantaged and vulnerable people by providing free services.  In providing these valuable services to the community, MIDLAS aims to guarantee the highest standard of professionalism and integrity.  In order to do this, MIDLAS must ensure that there is no conflict of interest with client’s that engage with our services.  This is why MIDLAS conducts a conflict of interest check on all clients that wish to book an appointment with our staff (or include Financial Counsellors, Advocates, Lawyers or Paralegals) before an appointment is made.

A conflict of interest with a client at MIDLAS can arise when we represent ‘two or more clients who have conflicting interests’  In other words, MIDLAS cannot act for two parties who might be on opposing sides of the same matter.  If a client at MIDLAS informs us that you are an opposing party, we will not be able to see you.  If you have been ‘conflicted out’ we will not be able to inform you of the reason, as that would be breaching the privacy of our clients.  While MIDLAS will not be able to assist you if you have been conflicted out, we are able to refer you to a similar service.  It is important to remember that the conflict is only for MIDLAS, and does not get shared with any other organisation.

The Community Legal Centres Association of (WA) uses the following example:

…Imagine there are two potential clients, James and Sarah. James and Sarah are married. James has recently been convicted of assault and Sarah, who has suffered from domestic violence, decides to leave James. If a lawyer acted for James in the criminal case and then starts to act for Sarah in Family Court proceedings, he or she may be aware of confidential information about James that would help Sarah in the Family Court proceedings against James. This means that the lawyer cannot represent Sarah in the Family Court matter. It does not mean that the lawyer or organisation does not want to represent Sarah  – it means that they are not able to. Click here for more information…

MIDLAS is committed to ensuring that actions and decisions taken at all levels in the organisation are always informed, objective, and fair.  A conflict of interest may affect the way a person acts, decisions they make or the way they vote on group decisions.  Conducting a conflict of interest check ensures that everyone is able accessing the most suitable and fair services.  For more information about conflict of interest, please visit:  http://www.communitylaw.net/Priority-Client-Resource/conflicts-of-interest/menu-id-53.html.

MIDLAS aims to empower disadvantaged and vulnerable people within our community who are experiencing distress by providing them with free services and confidential information, options, referral and support so they can navigate barriers to achieve a better way of life. You can contact MIDLAS by visiting our contact page:http://www.midlas.org.au/contacts and leave us a private message to book an appointment with our highly experience and dedicated legal team. If you are experiencing any form of family or domestic violence, it is vital for you to stay safe.  A downloadable version of the MIDLAS safety plan can be found by clicking on the following link: http://www.midlas.org.au/midlas-domestic-violence-safety-plan. You can also make an appointment by contacting MIDLAS on 9250 2123.


Reference: 

Community Legal Centres Association (WA) 

Bunbury Community Legal Centre

 

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