Tara Burd, a San Diego Civil litigation attorney, says, “Most people have a general idea of what a tort is, even if they aren’t familiar with the word or the exact legal definition.”
Even the most rural person understands that a lawyer is good for two things: defending against a crime, and suing someone who did someone wrong. However, the law goes a bit further – it also includes liability for those who help and assist in the committing of a tort. And that additional liability can be applied in a number of ways.
For example, in the high-risk group of aiders and abettors are hired professionals (such as CPAs and attorneys) who go beyond representation and participate in enhancing the dishonesty of their clients. This creates a blurred ethical line because these professionals are fiduciaries of their clients meaning that they have a duty to confidentiality. Yet the law is clear that representatives who participate in fraud, violations of fiduciary duties, and civil misconduct open themselves up for direct charges. Bankruptcy trustees are notorious for going after attorneys who represent officers of corporations that end up on the rocks, asserting the lawyer helped the financial officer create the problem the trustee is now cleaning up.
According to Tara Burd, of T.Burd Law Group,”aiding and abetting is not the same as conspiracy. Conspiracy requires that the coconspirator is legally capable of committing the tort. This means that a conspirator must also owe a duty to the plaintiff recognized by law.” This example can be shown in the corporate context. If an attorney is also a company shareholder for the company, he is more likely to meet the standards for conspiracy than if he is financially uninterested with no shareholder duties.
It is also important to note that aiding and abetting does not require that the professional is formally hired by the tort-committing party; an attorney need not, for example, be retained. This means that offering “free advice” along with secret winks could still get a professional into trouble. On the other hand, there must be a specific intent to facilitate the underlying tort as well. Free tax avoidance advice from a caring CPA will not expose him or her to aiding and abetting liability if that advice is later used in the commission of a tort.
The lesson here is for professionals who know their clients are utilizing their advice and services to commit unscrupulous acts: If you know unlawful acts are happening and continue to contribute your services to those unlawful acts, you could also be liable for the resulting damage.
For more information visit Tara Burd, San Diego Civil Law Attorney’s “Who Is Page” in the San Diego Professional Journal at http://whois.sandiegoprofessionaljournal.com/tara-burd-civil-law-attorney or her website at http://www.TBurdLawGroup.com.
San Diego Civil Litigation Attorney – Tara Burd
You may contact her at her office at:
T.Burd Law Group
945 Fourth Ave., #307
San Diego, CA 92101
Or, by telephone at (858) 215-2873.