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legal ethics, professional regulation, funding


Crown prosecutors and government lawyers are reliant on governments for their funding but exert no meaningful influence or control over such funding decisions. Nonetheless, this article demonstrates that as a question of law, under-funded Crown prosecutors and government lawyers risk violating their professional duties. If so, they must promptly inform the government, refuse new matters and, if necessary, withdraw from existing matters. If the government purports to block such refusal or withdrawal and does not provide adequate funding, resignation will become necessary. While law societies will likely not prioritize disciplinary action against such lawyers, the policy reasons to forego such proceedings do not mean that the legal answer is wrong and should or will change. This discordance with practical reality demonstrates that legal ethics generally – and the rules of professional conduct more specifically – do not adequately appreciate the practice settings of government lawyers and Crown prosecutors. Nonetheless, any changes to the legal framework governing all lawyers should be considered carefully as they would have major implications for the regulation of the legal profession.


This is a pre-print article made available online in May 2024. This article is forthcoming in (2025) 47:4 Man LJ 1.