Secrecy lifted for city professionals

Lawyers can talk
By Joel Ceausu

The new rule lifting the veil of confidentiality among professionals working for the city of Montreal for the purposes of inspector general investigations will now apply to Côte des Neiges–Notre Dame de Grâce as well.

The new measure lifts professional secrecy obligations in matters within borough council, its lawyers and notaries as well as those engaged by professional services contract under the mandate given to the inspector general under the Charter of the City of Montreal.

The inspector monitors the process for the award of contracts and executing them and has the right to examine any record or obtain any information relevant to the city or any officer or employee, including lawyers and notaries, but the confidentiality between professionals and clients creates a road block and can delay, even hinder prompt investigations. Individualized case by case approaches are ineffective and “contraindicated”, according to the city.

There is already a mechanism for municipal directors to remove such an obligation from city employees, but that is only in respect to lawyers in a police investigation or the work of a commission of inquiry.

Henceforth, any city lawyer, notary, engineer or other professional engaged under a professional services contract will be released from their confidentiality requirement as part of the inspector general’s investigation.

The city’s executive committee voted in January to lift the obligation for the centre city.
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