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This statement is issued in response to questions posed by journalists in many forms which essentially can be summarised as per below:
Why did Slater and Gordon not notify either the police or its then client the AWU of information concerning the AWU Workplace Reform Association when it learnt of allegations of misconduct by its other client Mr Bruce Wilson in August 1995?
Slater and Gordon has consistently maintained, and still maintains, that at all times it has acted in accordance with its legal and ethical obligations in relation to all aspects of the AWU matter.
Given the repeated publication of the question above Slater and Gordon has obtained independent legal advice from Arnold Bloch Leibler (ABL) and Mr Philip Crutchfield SC. The firm received this advice yesterday evening.
Without waiving any of the former clients', or Slater and Gordon’s privilege to maintain the confidentiality of the communications between it and the firm’s independent legal advisers, that independent advice has confirmed that Slater and Gordon was (and is) not permitted to divulge confidential and privileged information of one client to another client or any other party.
Further, in circumstances where a conflict arises between two existing clients Slater and Gordon was obliged to, and did cease acting for, both.
For the avoidance of doubt in relation to the AWU matter:
a) Slater and Gordon acted for both a union and a union official (personally).
b) in acting for the official, Slater and Gordon obtained information:
i). that was confidential to the official; and
ii) the disclosure of which to the union would have represented a conflict between the interests of the union and the interests of the official.
c) Slater and Gordon ceased acting for both clients after it became aware of this conflict situation.
As such the advice of both ABL and Mr Crutchfield SC has confirmed that Slater and Gordon was not and is not permitted to disclose the confidential information of the official to the union or anyone else.
Senior counsel and ABL have confirmed that Slater and Gordon acted appropriately by ceasing to act for all parties.