November 12, 2008
Ineffective Hold Harmless Agreement
An attorney who acknowledged that she may not have provided competent representation in connection with real estate closings was reprimanded by the South Carolina Supreme Court. The court's order recites the key facts:
Respondent represents that, at the closing, she advised Clients that she was neither representing Clients nor Countrywide. Respondent further explained to Clients that she did not examine the title to the property, that she did not prepare any of the closing documents, that she would not be supervising the disbursement of funds or the recording of documents, and that Clients could request the services of an attorney of their choice at their own expense to review the documents and/or attend the closing. After making these oral disclosures to Clients, respondent presented a document entitled “Hold Harmless Agreement” to Clients. Clients executed the document. Prior to the closing, Clients had no notice that the execution of the Hold Harmless Agreement would be a condition to proceeding with the closing and Clients did not consult with independent legal counsel. Respondent now recognizes that she was the closing attorney for the transaction involving Clients and she owed certain duties and responsibilities to Clients, in spite of the Hold Harmless Agreement executed by Clients.
The attorney was fully cooperative in the bar's investigation. (Mike Frisch)
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