Beware the imposter!
An Ontario solicitor acting for a mortgage lender neglected to request identification for a “borrower” who executed the mortgage document in his office. Unfortunately, the “borrower” was an impostor, and the solicitor was held responsible for the lender’s loss. (Yamada v. Mock, (1996) 2 R.P.R. (3d) 162 (Ont.Ct.Gen.Div.))
An English solicitor, who understood that he was acting for a husband and wife in a mortgage transaction, allowed the husband to take the mortgage out of the office for execution by the wife. The husband forged his wife’s signature. The solicitor was held liable for the lender’s loss on the basis of breach of warranty of authority. Because his correspondence with the lender’s solicitor stated that he acted for husband and wife, he was held to have “warranted” this to the lender. (Penn v. Bristol & West Building Society,  3 All E.R. 470 (C.A.))
Acting for family and friends is risky business
Beware of the “phantom client”
Solicitors should be especially wary of “phantom client” issues in personal injury matters. Consultations take place about whether an injured person should or should not bring an action. No decision is made at the consultation. No follow up takes place. Nothing is said about any limitation period. The limitation period passes. The “client” then alleges that the solicitor was to protect his or her interests. There is a real possibility in such cases that the “client's” position will prevail. See Prior v. McNab (1976) 16 O.R. (2d) 380 (Ont.H.C.)