Saturday, May 15, 2010

Alain Préfontaine and conflict of interest : the plot thickens

Readers may remember Alain Préfontaine, the government lawyer who told the Military Police Complaints Commission to take a hike recently, who threatened a CBC reporter--and who vigorously cross-examined diplomat Richard Colvin when he had originally represented him as a "putative client," giving rise to a suggestion that he was in a conflict of interest.

That suggestion has now become an allegation. Five law professors* have made a formal complaint to the Law Society of Upper Canada:

The professors say that in 2009, Préfontaine, arguing on behalf of the government, gave various reasons why certain documents could not be produced for the tribunal. But they say he subsequently argued on behalf of... seven military police officers that they couldn't get a fair hearing without access to those documents.

The hearing was adjourned.

"It is alleged Mr. Préfontaine abused his joint retainer by playing one client off the other, forcing an adjournment and frustrating the tribunal as a whole. This appears deeply at odds with the ethical obligations of a lawyer."

The professors also raise questions about Préfontaine allegedly treating diplomat Richard Colvin as both client and adverse witness.

This will get interesting.

*University of Ottawa law professor Amir Attaran, University of Windsor law professor Reem Bahdi, University of British Columbia political science professor Michael Byers, University of Ottawa law professor Pascale Fournier and Osgoode Hall Law School professor Craig Scott.

No comments: