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THE COURTS

Title 204—JUDICIAL SYSTEM GENERAL PROVISIONS

PART V. PROFESSIONAL ETHICS AND CONDUCT

[ 204 PA. CODE CH. 81 ]

Proposed Amendments to the Rules of Professional Conduct Regarding Safekeeping Property

[46 Pa.B. 2407]
[Saturday, May 14, 2016]

 Notice is hereby given that The Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania is considering recommending to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court that it adopt amendments to Comment (8) to Pennsylvania Rule of Professional Conduct 1.15 relating to safekeeping property, as set forth in Annex A.

 As stated in the Scope of the Rules of Professional Conduct, the Comment accompanying each Rule explains and illustrates the meaning and purpose of the Rule. Comments do not add obligations to the Rules, but provide guidance for practicing in compliance with the Rules. Comment [8] to Rule 1.15 provides guidance in situations where third parties may have lawful claims against specific funds or other property in a lawyer's custody.

 The proposed change will provide clarification of the lawyer's duty to protect certain third party claims by specifically stating that in such cases, when a letter of protection has been issued by an attorney or a lien on the funds exists under applicable law, the lawyer must refuse to surrender the property to the client unless the claims are resolved. The proposed amendment removes the phrase ''the third party claim is not frivolous'' which is subject to interpretation and may cause the lawyer difficulty in determining the scope of his or her responsibilities.

 Interested persons are invited to submit written comments by mail or facsimile regarding the proposed amendments to the Office of the Secretary, The Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, 601 Commonwealth Avenue, Suite 5600, PO Box 62625, Harrisburg, PA 17106-2625, Facsimile number (717-231-3382), Email address Dboard.comments@pacourts.us on or before June 24, 2016.

By the Disciplinary Board of the
Supreme Court of Pennsylvania

ELAINE M. BIXLER, 
Secretary

Annex A

TITLE 204. JUDICIAL SYSTEM GENERAL PROVISIONS

PART V. PROFESSIONAL ETHICS AND CONDUCT

Subpart A. PROFESSIONAL RESPONSIBILITY

CHAPTER 81. RULES OF PROFESSIONAL CONDUCT

Subchapter A. RULES OF PROFESSIONAL CONDUCT

§ 81.4. Rules of Professional Conduct.

 The following are the Rules of Professional Conduct:

CLIENT-LAWYER RELATIONSHIP

Rule 1.15. Safekeeping Property.

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Comment:

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 (8) Third parties may have lawful claims against specific funds or other property in a lawyer's custody such as a client's creditor who has a lien on funds recovered in a personal injury action. A lawyer may have a duty under applicable law to protect such third-party claims against wrongful interference by the client. In such cases, when [the third party claim is not frivolous] a letter of protection has been issued by an attorney or a lien on the funds exists under applicable law, the lawyer must refuse to surrender the property to the client unless the claims are resolved. A lawyer should not unilaterally assume to arbitrate a dispute between the client and the third party. When there are substantial grounds for dispute as to the person entitled to the funds, the lawyer may file an action to have a court resolve the dispute.

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[Pa.B. Doc. No. 16-811. Filed for public inspection May 13, 2016, 9:00 a.m.]



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