Remember that you are allowed to breach confidentiality where your client or another person is at risk of imminent serious physical harm.

In an emergency, call police, fire, or ambulance on “000”. Stay calm, and give the operator the information that they ask for. If you need to give them a location, give them the physical or street address, or if you do not know, think about cross-streets and landmarks that will help first responders assist you.

Are you in danger? Move to a safe place if possible, or remain hidden.

As soon as it is safe to do so, call police, fire or ambulance on “000”.

If you can’t make a noise, send a text or email to a friend to get them to call for help.

If you can safely do so, use your phone’s voice recorder or video function to record what is happening to assist with law enforcement in due course.

Remember that you are allowed to breach confidentiality where your client or another person is at risk of imminent serious physical harm.

Is your client suicidal or threatening to harm someone else?

In an emergency, call police, fire or ambulance on “000”.

If your client is threatening imminent serious harm to someone else, after calling “000”, call the lawyers for the person at risk or call the person at risk of the imminent serious harm to warn them (if these contact details are known).

Keep yourself and your staff safe, and expose as few people as possible to the danger if it is occurring on your premises.

Remember that you are allowed to breach confidentiality where your client or another person is at risk of imminent serious physical harm.

The ACT Law Society offers an employee assistance program (EAP) to members, and where appropriate, this will be extended to your staff with the Law Society CEO’s approval. For contact details of our EAP, please click here.

If you would like to consider using other ACT resources who specialise in a variety of mental health concerns, please click here.

As always, please feel free to call the Law Society for assistance on (02) 6274 0300.

If you are worried about your client’s mental health, you have many options.

If you can, give your client the necessary resources so that they can seek help for themself.

If you are calling a service to help your client, get your client’s permission before disclosing anything that your client has told you.

If you act without your client’s permission and therefore breach their confidentiality, you may face a complaint from them. The complaint may be upheld. That is something that you will need to weigh up based on your personal values.

Remember, you are not responsible for another person’s actions and choices.

You are responsible for your own choices, and for keeping yourself and your workplace safe.

For our ACT mental health resources page, click here.

If you are worried that a client or third party might enter your workplace and threaten you or your staff, you need a safety plan.

Your plan will vary according to the level of risk you expect to face.

Precautions like lockable doors, alternate exits and duress buttons are common in law firms.

You should speak to people well-versed in safety planning in order to make your firm’s plan.

You should train all staff in how to keep safe.

Contact the ACT Law Society on (02) 6274 0300 for resources and contact details for safety planning for your firm.

 

Why am I allowed to breach confidentiality when my client or another person is at risk of imminent serious physical harm?

The Legal Profession (Solicitors) Conduct Rules 2015 expressly allow this. Rule 9.2.5 states:

9.2 A solicitor may disclose information which is confidential to a client if: 

[ ... ] 9.2.5 the solicitor discloses the information for the purpose of preventing imminent serious physical harm to the client or to another person;

 

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