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Can a lawyer lie?

Should a lawyer always tell the truth? Or can they lie too? Time to clear this up!

"Lawyers are the best liars", "does a lawyer even have a conscience?", "a lawyer does everything for the money", "distort the truth again, that's what lawyers are good at". These are some common comments about lawyers. But are they really true? Is a lawyer allowed to lie?

Can a lawyer lie?

The answer is: no. According to the Code of Ethics for Lawyers a lawyer must respect the principles of dignity, probity and discretion. What do these concepts mean?

  • Dignity means that a lawyer must not harm the good name of the profession and the trust a citizen has in it.
  • Righteousness means that every lawyer should act according to moral principles such as honesty and decency.
  • Wisdom presses a lawyer to act appropriately and sensitively to the situation. Thus, a lawyer must show due tact.

In addition, the JudicialCode also states that lawyers exercise their profession in defence of justice and truth.

Conclusion: a lawyer must therefore not knowingly lie.

What about professional secrecy?

A lawyer is also bound by professional secrecy. Therefore, he or she may not disclose any information that clients have entrusted to him or her, except where it is necessary to defend the client's interests.

So is a lawyer independent and impartial?

A lawyer works independently of the government, the judge or the client. Thus, the lawyer may not defend parties with opposing interests in the same case, and may not work under any kind of pressure from any party.

A lawyer also has no personal interest and is loyal to a client. Therefore, this does make the lawyer biased: he or she defends the interests of his or her client.

And what if a lawyer does lie?

It may sometimes appear that a lawyer is lying because professional secrecy is more important than the truth and because a lawyer is committed to defending his client's interests. But knowingly lying is therefore not allowed.

A lawyer who does so may be prosecuted in disciplinary proceedings.