These summaries were prepared by McGuireWoods LLP lawyer Thomas E. Spahn. They are based on the letter opinions issued by the Virginia State Bar. Any editorial comments reflect Mr. Spahn's current personal views, and not the opinions of the Virginia State Bar, McGuireWoods or its clients. 
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17-Fraud on the Tribunal

A bankruptcy lawyer who finished a representation and closed the file shortly after the discharge order but who later learned that his former client had inherited real estate that must be reported to the bankruptcy court because it was received within a specified "window" of time after the discharge order had a duty not to report the inheritance to the court. The Bar explained that the "clearly established" standard for fraud that must be reported to a court requires the client to acknowledge the fraud. The client here claimed that the failure to report within the required window of time was a mistake, and that the client did not understand that he had an obligation to report the inheritance until he talked to his former lawyer, after the "window" period had lapsed. The Bar explained that "regardless of what hunch or assumption this attorney may have or wish to make, the attorney does not have information clearly establishing client fraud on the court," and therefore may not reveal it to the court. Lawyers may not reveal "mistakes made by former clients after termination of the attorney-client relationship."

Copyright 2000, Thomas E. Spahn