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Rule 4.1 Truthfulness in Statements to Others

In the course of representing a client a lawyer shall not knowingly make a false statement of material fact or law to a third person.

Comment

Misrepresentation

[1] A lawyer is required to be truthful when dealing with others on a client's behalf, but generally has no affirmative duty to inform an opposing party of relevant facts. A misrepresentation can occur if the lawyer incorporates or affirms a statement of another person that the lawyer knows is false. Misrepresentations can also occur by partially true but misleading statements or omissions that are the equivalent of affirmative false statements. For dishonest conduct that does not amount to a false statement or for misrepresentations by a lawyer other than in the course of representing a client, see Rule 8.4.

Statements of Fact

[2] This Rule refers to statements of fact. Whether a particular statement should be regarded as one of fact can depend on the circumstances. Under generally accepted conventions in negotiation, certain types of statements ordinarily are not taken as statements of material fact. Estimates of price or value placed on the subject of a transaction and a party's intentions as to an acceptable settlement of a claim are ordinarily in this category, and so is the existence of an undisclosed principal except where nondisclosure of the principal would constitute fraud. Lawyers should be mindful of their obligations under applicable law to avoid criminal and tortuous misrepresentation.

Crime or Fraud by Client

[3] Under Rule 1.2(d), a lawyer is prohibited from counseling or assisting a client in conduct that the lawyer knows is criminal or fraudulent. Ordinarily, a lawyer can avoid assisting a client's crime or fraud by withdrawing from the representation. Sometimes it may be necessary for the lawyer to give notice of the fact of withdrawal and to disaffirm an opinion, document, affirmation or the like. In extreme cases, substantive law may require a lawyer to disclose information relating to the representation to avoid being deemed to have assisted the client's crime or fraud. Rule 1.6(b)(1) permits a lawyer to disclose information when required by law. Similarly, Rule 1.6(b)(4) permits a lawyer to disclose information when necessary to prevent, mitigate, or rectify the consequences of a client's criminal or fraudulent act in the commission of which the lawyer's services were used.

History Note: Statutory Authority G.S. 84-23

Adopted by the Supreme Court: July 24, 1997

Amendments Approved by the Supreme Court: March 1, 2003

Ethics Opinion Notes

RPC 182. Opinion rules that a lawyer is required to disclose to an adverse party with whom the lawyer is negotiating a settlement that the lawyer's client has died.

RPC 236. Opinion rules that a lawyer may not issue a subpoena containing misrepresentations as to the pendency of an action, the date or location of a hearing, or a lawyer's authority to obtain documentary evidence.

2008 Formal Ethics Opinion 3. Opinion rules a lawyer may assist a pro se litigant by drafting pleadings and giving advice without making an appearance in the proceeding and without disclosing or ensuring the disclosure of his assistance to the court unless required to do so by law or court order.

2008 Formal Ethics Opinion 14. Opinion rules that it is not an ethical violation when a lawyer fails to attribute or obtain consent when incorporating into his own brief, contract, or pleading excerpts from a legal brief, contract, or pleading written by another lawyer. .

2018 Formal Ethics Opinion 5. Opinion reviews a lawyer’s professional responsibilities when seeking access to a person’s profile, pages, and posts on a social network to investigate a client’s legal matter.

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