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Family business | Stories from the conflict zone

Being 'conflicted out' of a case is 
a challenge you must deal with quickly 
and cleanly, before it goes too far 
says Marilyn Stowe

4 July 2013

Family lawyers know that divorce can transform otherwise sensible people into hot-heads. When a newspaper asked me recently to share some of the "dirtiest divorce tricks" encountered in my 30-year career, there were many from which to choose: from the wife of a pianist, who sold her husband's beloved Steinway piano without his knowledge, to the case of a wife who hired a hitman.

One of the most common "dirty tricks", however, is not hot-headed at all and for this reason, it stands out from the others. This is the practice of "conflicting out": when we cannot advise a client because of work with another person involved in the case, or other conflicts of interest. Fortunately, it is one that we are often in a position to do something about - if we get wise to it in good time.

I have known spouses attempt to conflict out every solicitor in the locality. I have known some solicitors advise clients to conflict out other solicitors against whom they w...

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