RULE 19-302.3. EVALUATION FOR USE BY THIRD PARTIES (2.3)
West's Annotated Code of MarylandMaryland Rules
MD Rules Attorneys, Rule 19-302.3
RULE 19-302.3. EVALUATION FOR USE BY THIRD PARTIES (2.3)
Definition-- An evaluation may be performed at the client's direction or when impliedly authorized in order to carry out the representation. See Rule 19-301.2 (1.2). Such an evaluation may be for the primary purpose of establishing information for the benefit of third parties; for example, an opinion concerning the title of property rendered at the behest of a vendor for the information of a prospective purchaser, or at the behest of a borrower for the information of a prospective lender. In some situations, the evaluation may be required by a government agency; for example, an opinion concerning the legality of the securities registered for sale under the securities laws. In other instances, the evaluation may be required by a third person, such as a purchaser of a business.
 A legal evaluation should be distinguished from an investigation of a person with whom the attorney does not have a client-attorney relationship. For example, an attorney retained by a purchaser to analyze a vendor's title to property does not have a client-attorney relationship with the vendor. So also, an investigation into a person's affairs by a government attorney, or by special counsel employed by the government, is not an evaluation as that term is used in this Rule. The question is whether the attorney is retained by the person whose affairs are being examined. When the attorney is retained by that person, the general rules concerning loyalty to client and preservation of confidences apply, which is not the case if the attorney is retained by someone else. For this reason, it is essential to identify the person by whom the attorney is retained. This should be made clear not only to the person under examination, but also to others to whom the results are to be made available.
Duties Owed to Third Person and Client-- When the evaluation is intended for the information or use of a third person, a legal duty to that person may or may not arise. That legal question is beyond the scope of this Rule. However, since such an evaluation involves a departure from the normal client-attorney relationship, careful analysis of the situation is required. The attorney must be satisfied as a matter of professional judgment that making the evaluation is compatible with other functions undertaken in behalf of the client. For example, if the attorney is acting as advocate in defending the client against charges of fraud, it would normally be incompatible with that responsibility for the attorney to perform an evaluation for others concerning the same or a related transaction. Assuming no such impediment is apparent, however, the attorney should advise the client of the implications of the evaluation, particularly the attorney's responsibilities to third persons and the duty to disseminate the findings.
Access to and Disclosure of Information-- The quality of an evaluation depends on the freedom and extent of the investigation upon which it is based. Ordinarily an attorney should have whatever latitude of investigation seems necessary as a matter of professional judgment. Under some circumstances, however, the terms of the evaluation may be limited. For example, certain issues or sources may be categorically excluded, or the scope of search may be limited by time constraints or the noncooperation of persons having relevant information. Any such limitations which are material to the evaluation should be described in the report. If after an attorney has commenced an evaluation, the client refuses to comply with the terms upon which it was understood the evaluation was to have been made, the attorney's obligations are determined by law, having reference to the terms of the client's agreement and the surrounding circumstances. In no circumstances is the attorney permitted to knowingly make a false statement of material fact or law in providing an evaluation under this Rule. See Rule 19-304.1 (4.1).
Obtaining Client's Informed Consent-- Information relating to an evaluation is protected by Rule 19-301.6 (1.6). In many situations, providing an evaluation to a third party poses no significant risk to the client; thus the attorney may be impliedly authorized to disclose information to carry out the representation. See Rule 19-301.6 (a) (1.6). Where, however, it is reasonably likely that providing the evaluation will affect the client's interests materially and adversely, the attorney must first obtain the client's consent after the client has been adequately informed concerning the important possible effects on the client's interests. See Rules 19-301.6 (a) (1.6) and 19-301.0 (f) (1.0).
Financial Auditors' Requests for Information-- When a question concerning the legal situation of a client arises at the instance of the client's financial auditor and the question is referred to the attorney, the attorney's response may be made in accordance with procedures recognized in the legal profession. Such a procedure is set forth in the American Bar Association Statement of Policy Regarding Lawyers' Responses to Auditors' Requests for Information.
Model Rules Comparison: Rule 19-302.3 (2.3) is substantially similar to the language of the Ethics 2000 Amendments to the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct.
[Adopted June 6, 2016, eff. July 1, 2016.]
MD R Attorneys, Rule 19-302.3, MD R ATTORNEYS Rule 19-302.3
Current with amendments received through February 1, 2023. Some sections may be more current, see credits for details.
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