4.01 Truthfulness in Statements to Others

In the course of representing a client a lawyer shall not knowingly:

(a) make a false statement of material fact or law to a third person; or

(b) fail to disclose a material fact to a third person when disclosure is necessary to avoid making the lawyer a party to a criminal act or knowingly assisting a fraudulent act perpetrated by a client.


False Statements of Fact

1. Paragraph (a) of this Rule refers to statements of material fact. Whether a particular statement should be regarded as one of material fact can depend on the circumstances. For example, certain types of statements ordinarily are not taken as statements of material fact because they are viewed as matters of opinion or conjecture. Estimates of price or value placed on the subject of a transaction are in this category. Similarly, under generally accepted conventions in negotiation, a party's supposed intentions as to an acceptable settlement of a claim may be viewed merely as negotiating positions rather than as accurate representations of material fact. Likewise, according to commercial conventions, the fact that a particular transaction is being undertaken on behalf of an undisclosed principal need not be disclosed except where non-disclosure of the principal would constitute fraud.

2. A lawyer violates paragraph (a) of this Rule either by making a false statement of law or material fact or by incorporating or affirming such a statement made by another person. Such statements will violate this Rule, however, only if the lawyer knows they are false and intends thereby to mislead. As to a lawyer's duty to decline or terminate representation in such situations, see Rule 1.15.

Failure to Disclose A Material Fact

3. Paragraph (b) of this Rule also relates only to failures to disclose material facts. Generally, in the course of representing a client a lawyer has no duty to inform a third person of relevant or material facts, except as required by law or by applicable rules of practice or procedure, such as formal discovery. However, a lawyer must not allow fidelity to a client to become a vehicle for a criminal act or a fraud being perpetrated by that client. Consequently a lawyer must disclose a material fact to a third party if the lawyer knows that the client is perpetrating a crime or a fraud and the lawyer knows that disclosure is necessary to prevent the lawyer from becoming a party to that crime or fraud. Failure to disclose under such circumstances is misconduct only if the lawyer intends thereby to mislead.

4. When a lawyer discovers that a client has committed a criminal or fraudulent act in the course of which the lawyer's services have been used, or that the client is committing or intends to commit any criminal or fraudulent act, other of these Rules require the lawyer to urge the client to take appropriate action. See Rules 1.02(d), (e), (f); 3.03(b). Since the disclosures called for by paragraph (b) of this Rule will be necessary only if the lawyer's attempts to counsel his client not to commit the crime or fraud are unsuccessful, a lawyer is not authorized to make them without having first undertaken those other remedial actions. See also Rule 1.05.

Fraud by a Client

5. A lawyer should never knowingly assist a client in the commission of a criminal act or a fraudulent act. See Rule 1.02(c).

6. This rule governs a lawyer's conduct during "the course of representing a client." If the lawyer has terminated representation prior to learning of a client's intention to commit a criminal or fraudulent act, paragraph (b) of this Rule does not apply. See "Fraud" under TERMINOLOGY.

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