This morning Slater & Gordon released a statement saying: “Slater & Gordon has consistently maintained, and still maintains, that at all times it has acted in accordance with its legal and ethical obligations in relation to all aspects of the AWU matter.”
It said it had obtained independent advice confirming that it: “was (and is) not permitted to divulge confidential and privileged information of one client to another client or any other party.”
The firm said it “acted for both a union and a union official (personally)” in the “AWU matter.”
“In acting for the official, Slater & Gordon obtained information: i). that was confidential to the official; and ii) the disclosure of which to the union would have represented a conflict between the interests of the union and the interests of the official,” the statement said.
“Slater & Gordon ceased acting for both clients after it became aware of this conflict situation.”
On the face of it this is a plea of not guilty, your honour, made by the entity Slater & Gordon, (commonly known as Slags, and it’s less typing). Implicit within it is that Slags as a whole at no stage did anything wrong. It might feel a little peeved that one of the Slags did some of the work in question without raising a file … it makes it hard for an entity to know what it was actually up to.
Within the not guilty plea is an admission. Whatever it was that the entity was up to led to a conflict of interest between two of its clients Bruce Wilson, Ms Gillard’s then boyfriend, and the AWU. A conflict so severe that dealings with both clients had to stop. Not guilty your honour but boy did we screw up.
Being in a relationship can interfere with the normal lawyer-client relationship. It can lead to the lawyer losing his or her objectivity, resulting in inaccurate advice and even a breach of duty to the court.”