ADVICE OF COUNSEL

advice of counsel.

1. The guidance given by lawyers to their clients.

2. In a malicious-prosecution lawsuit, a defense requiring both a complete presentation of facts by the defendant to his or her attorney and honest compliance with the attorney’s advice. [Cases: Malicious Prosecution 21, 25(2). C.J.S. Malicious Prosecution or Wrongful Litigation §§ 25, 42, 44–47.]

3. A defense in which a party seeks to avoid liability or punishment by claiming that he or she acted reasonably and in good faith on the attorney’s advice. • Such a defense usu. requires waiver of the attorney–client privilege, and the attorney cannot have knowingly participated in implementing an illegal plan. [Cases: Criminal Law 37.20. C.J.S. Criminal Law §§ 56, 94–95.]

“Advice of counsel is a defense to a limited number of torts involving lack of probable cause, bad faith, or malice as an element of the cause of action. By far the most frequent cause of action against which the defense is asserted is malicious prosecution. The defense may also be asserted to avoid liability for punitive damages on the reasoning that good faith reliance on advice of counsel defeats the malice necessary to an award of punitive damages. In civil matters, the advice is typically obtained from the defendant’s own attorney; when the underlying proceeding is criminal, the advice may be obtained from the district attorney’s office or similar source and may take the form of action by that officer rather than advice followed by action by the defendant.” 4 Ann Taylor Schwing, California Affirmative Defenses § 41:26, at 82 (2d ed. 1996).