Vendor and Purchaser – Can they Have the Same Lawyer?

Published On: May 26, 2020Categories: Real Estate

The short answer: Unless the reasoning falls under limited exceptions – No.

In most cases, each party to an Agreement of Purchase and Sale will be represented by their own lawyer. Aside from a few, very limited exceptions, according to the lawyers’ Rules of Professional Conduct, a lawyer cannot act on behalf of both parties even if the Vendor and Purchaser wish to have the same representation.

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However, each party can use two separate lawyers from the same law firm, only if both are aware of the dual retainer; both agree that any information can be shared between parties and if a conflict arises, neither lawyer would be able to act on behalf of either buyer or seller. Therefore, each party would be forced to seek representation elsewhere.

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What are the Limited Exceptions?

As aforementioned, there are limited circumstances in which the Vendor and Purchaser can retain the same legal representation. Here are 3 examples:

  • The Land Registration Reform Act allows the lawyer to sign the transfer on behalf of the transferor and transferee.
  • The Vendor and Purchaser are “related persons” as defined under section 251 of the Income Tax Act.
  • The transaction is occurring in a remote area whereby there are no other lawyers that either the Vendor or Purchaser can obtain without undue inconvenience.

The Benefits of Retaining One Law Firm

To recap, using separate lawyers is an effective way to avoid conflicts of interest. Nevertheless, there are potential benefits for parties who wish to operate out of one law firm. Parties may take advantage of lower disbursement costs and efficient communication pathways between both lawyers.

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