Conflict of Interest

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Conflict of Interest

A term used to describe the situation in which a public official or fiduciary who, contrary to the obligation and absolute duty to act for the benefit of the public or a designated individual, exploits the relationship for personal benefit, typically pecuniary.

In certain relationships, individuals or the general public place their trust and confidence in someone to act in their best interests. When an individual has the responsibility to represent another person—whether as administrator, attorney, executor, government official, or trustee—a clash between professional obligations and personal interests arises if the individual tries to perform that duty while at the same time trying to achieve personal gain. The appearance of a conflict of interest is present if there is a potential for the personal interests of an individual to clash with fiduciary duties, such as when a client has his or her attorney commence an action against a company in which the attorney is the majority stockholder.

Incompatibility of professional duties and personal interests has led Congress and many state legislatures to enact statutes defining conduct that constitutes a conflict of interest and specifying the sanctions for violations. A member of a profession who has been involved in a conflict of interest might be subject to disciplinary proceedings before the body that granted permission to practice that profession.


Attorney Misconduct; Ethics, Legal.

West's Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

conflict of interest

n. a situation in which a person has a duty to more than one person or organization, but cannot do justice to the actual or potentially adverse interests of both parties. This includes when an individual's personal interests or concerns are inconsistent with the best for a customer, or when a public official's personal interests are contrary to his/her loyalty to public business. An attorney, an accountant, a business adviser or realtor cannot represent two parties in a dispute and must avoid even the appearance of conflict. He/she may not join with a client in business without making full disclosure of his/her potential conflicts, he/she must avoid commingling funds with the client, and never, never take a position adverse to the customer.

Copyright © 1981-2005 by Gerald N. Hill and Kathleen T. Hill. All Right reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
Perhaps the biggest difference between the conflict-of-interest problems facing judges and police officers is in their relative capacities to avoid conflicts of interest.
The authors surveyed 181 editors of peer-reviewed science and medical journals with conflict-of-interest policies in effect during 1997.
Fourth in this hierarchy of violations is the apparent conflict-of-interest situation.
Another recent ruling considers the following potential conflict-of-interest situation.
The conflict-of-interest watchdog claimed there was no connection between the property purchase deals signed by Yaneva, junior judge at the time, as a proxy of a company owned by her father and the moths-long delay she admitted in 2010 in the embezzlement trial against the former executives of the municipal company Sofiyski Imoti.
Many program offices have imposed their own conflict-of-interest rules for contractors involved in source selection, but not for other functions such as developing requirements or cost estimates.
With the annoyed, and at moments palpably irritated, indulgence of the advisory committee's chairman--a physician who presided with his own freshly issued FDA conflict-of-interest "waiver" in hand--Graham presented a grisly report card to the advisory committee: One of every 1,800 Rezulin patients can be expected to develop liver failure, most of whom will die or, if they're lucky, undergo organ transplant.
One month ago, Yaneva self-recused from the trial, explaining later on that she had not done it in connection with conflict-of-interest accusations but in order to ensure compliance with the ruling of the court of second instance, the Sofia Appellate Court, according to which the case closure ordered by her constituted inadmissible intervention into the substance of the case.
* Personal trading and other conflict-of-interest issues;
Sax said many lawyers in MDPs assume they are not practicing law and therefore are not subject to the legal profession's client confidentiality and conflict-of-interest rules.
A recent report by the General Accounting Office (GAO) stated that the DOE's Albuquerque field office employed this novel oversight technique: They allowed contractors to make their own determinations on whether they had a conflict-of-interest on a given project.
District Courts in the Second Circuit have allowed discovery in conflict-of-interests cases, though they limit the scope of that discovery to information pertaining to conflicts of interest.