Overview

Overview

HOLDINGS: [1]-Because a challenge to the legality of a contract as a whole had to be decided by the court rather than by an arbitrator, the trial court erred by deferring to the arbitrators’ determination of legality and denying a client’s motion under Code Civ. Proc., § 1286.2, to vacate an arbitration award in favor of a law firm for unpaid fees, in which the client argued the entire agreement was unenforceable because the firm had a conflict of interest; [2]-An advance waiver of potential conflicts was insufficient under Rules Prof. Conduct, rule 3-310(C), because the firm did not inform the client when an actual conflict arose; [3]-The conflict of interest rendered the fee agreement illegal and unenforceable under Civ. Code, §§ 1550, subd. (3), 1596, 1598, 1607, 1667, on public policy grounds; [4]-A remand was necessary to resolve a fact issue about when the actual conflict began.

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Outcome

Reversed and remanded.