Informal Opinion Number: 2020-22

Adoption Date: 2020

Rules: 4-1.5; 4-1.6; 4-1.15
Client-Lawyer Relationship
Confidentiality of Information
Safekeeping Property
Subject: Confidentiality; Credit Cards; Trust Accounts and Safekeeping Property
Summary: credit card payment disputes and chargebacks

QUESTION: Attorney received notice that Client is disputing a credit card payment for legal fees. If Attorney wishes to dispute the chargeback, Attorney is required to provide documentation of legal services rendered to Client. What information may Attorney provide?

ANSWER: Information relating to the representation of Client, including information about legal services provided and fees charged, may not be disclosed without the informed consent of Client. See Rule 4-1.6; see also Informal Opinion 2015-09. Rule 4-1.6(b)(3) permits a lawyer to reveal confidential information to the extent reasonably necessary to establish a claim or defense in a controversy between the lawyer and client, such as an action against a former client to collect a fee. However, a credit card chargeback dispute is not such a controversy. See Rule 4-1.6, Comment [9]. To dispute the chargeback, Attorney is permitted to provide an affidavit or statement that professional services were provided to Client. Attorney also may state that professional obligations prevent Attorney from providing additional information. Attorney should ensure that chargebacks for disputed credit card payments cannot be processed as transfers out of the trust account. Informal Opinion 2014-05; see Rule 4-1.15(b)(3). To address the fee dispute, Rule 4-1.5(f) requires Attorney to conscientiously consider participating in the appropriate fee dispute resolution program.

Informal Opinions are ethics advisory opinions issued by the Office of Legal Ethics Counsel to members of the Bar about Rule 4 (Rules of Professional Conduct), Rule 5 (Complaints and Proceedings Thereon), and Rule 6 (Fees to Practice Law) pursuant to Missouri Supreme Court Rule 5.30(c). Written summaries of select Informal Opinions are published for informational purposes as determined by the Advisory Committee of the Supreme Court of Missouri pursuant to Rule 5.30(c). Informal opinion summaries are advisory in nature and are not binding. These opinions are published as an educational service and do not constitute legal advice.

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