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Material witness conflict

Material witness conflict

By Ethics Committee

Ethics Practice & Procedure 

R4892: February 2016 — Rule 27.2 (material witness) A solicitor is not prohibited from acting in proceedings where it has not been established that they will be required to give evidence as a material witness in the proceedings. A wife applied to the Federal Circuit Court of Australia for a division of property. The wife’s solicitor had sworn and filed an affidavit outlining the factual and legal history of the matter, exhibiting copies of various documents and correspondence in support of an application for a speedy hearing. The affidavit did not address facts and circumstances underpinning contested issues requiring judicial determination. However, the husband’s solicitor asserted that the wife’s solicitor would be required to give evidence relating to an allegation that the sale of a property owned by the wife was a “sham” transaction. The husband’s solicitor denied that they would be required to provide additional information to support this assertion. The husband’s solicitor asserted that the wife’s solicitor should cease acting in the family law proceedings.

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