Thursday, November 20, 2014

Risk News: Conflicts & Disqualification (Accusations & Attempts)


First, from Law360 (paywall/free trial): "Wiley Rein Fights Atty's DQ Bid In Continental Policy Suit" --
  •  "Wiley Rein LLP on Monday told a New York federal judge that the firm shouldn’t be disqualified from representing Continental Casualty Co. in a dispute with an attorney over a professional liability policy, saying that the attorney hadn’t shown that the firm would offer testimony prejudicial to him during trial."
  • "Darius Marzec of the Marzec Law Firm PC had sought last month to disqualify the entire firm from representing Continental under the New York Rules of Professional Conduct’s witness advocate rule, which precludes attorneys from acting as advocates if they are likely to be a witness in the trial. Marzec had argued that the rule was triggered because the firm had represented Continental when it denied his claim for coverage."
  • "But Wiley Rein argued that not only was Marzec’s argument premature because the rule is triggered only during a trial, he could only speculate as to the firm’s role in issuing Continental’s coverage correspondence."
  • "'Mr. Marzec cannot possibly have personal knowledge of how Continental conducted its coverage investigation or made its coverage decisions. Thus, there simply is no factual basis for concluding that any of Continental’s attorneys are likely to be witnesses at a trial in this matter,' the motion stated."
Next, via the Lawyer comes: "China oil giant CNOOC breaks ties with Baker & McKenzie after internal investigation finds conflict of interest" with additional detail from the Wall Street Journal --
  • "The Chinese energy company China National Offshore Oil Corp. said it sanctioned one of its top lawyers for conflicts of interest with Baker & McKenzie, a U.S. law firm that has often represented it and that in Beijing is led by the woman’s husband."
  • " Cnooc said it found that Karen Kang Xin violated unspecified national regulations and its corporate policies by accepting trips to Europe and Australia paid for by Baker, and that she subsequently helped the law firm win legal work. The note, which was reviewed by The Wall Street Journal, said Ms. Kang dated and then married Baker’s chief representative in Beijing, Stanley Jia Dianan, 'and did not withdraw from the conflict of interest after the marriage.'"
  • "By citing the U.S. law firm by name in its allegations, Cnooc’s letter adds an international dimension to corruption investigations in China’s oil industry that have rocked the sector for more than year."
  • "In response to questions Monday, Baker said in a written statement that it 'has strict rules and guidelines about professional conduct. Based on all of the information we have reviewed, we have not identified any breach of any professional rules or internal Baker & McKenzie rules by our attorneys or employees in this matter.'"

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