Conflict of Interest
Investigation of the Facts of the Case
CyberTech is facing a conflict of interest in this case, which may not be significant in deciding whether the company should take both cases or not. The Anomalous in this case needs to be investigated for the possible breach of OPM, as one of the major suspects in the hacking case. It is apparent from the facts of the case that Anomalous suspects the US-based company Equation Set is responsible for the attempted hacking of their facilities. Both parties are suspects in two separate hacking incidents. This implies that if CyberTech were to represent both Equation Set and Anomalous, it may put itself in an ethically challenging and legally awkward position, however, it can represent the two clients.
CyberTech is a consultant firm and therefore is required to abide by the law which states that it must remain impartial when representing clients (Panel on Research Ethics, 2015). The law clearly dictates that every party is equal and has the right to fair representation. However, if the cases are related and may pose a conflict of interest, maintaining professionalism is the key in deciding whether to handle both cases or to drop one of the cases. In some situations, it does not matter whether a case poses a conflict of interest or not, as long as a company like CyberTech is able to manage the situation professionally (Panel on Research Ethics, 2015). For this reason, CyberTech should take both cases and engage its services for the two companies with due diligence and professionalism, despite the perceived conflict of interest in the case.
Identification of the Problem
At the outset, it is important to note that the conflict of interest in the case is situational in nature. Most importantly, it is critical for CyberTech and any other analyst to know that the conflict of interest is not based on the omission of information by concerned parties or the behavior of the firm. This case offers a unique scenario where the representation of the two clients by CyberTech in this hacking case is what brings about a conflict of interest. However, an examination of the case reveals that reasons for representing the clients are not related in any way.
Based on the fact that the two cases are completely different with respect to how the clients will be represented, there is a very small likelihood that CyberTech may be compelled to act in a way that may breach the confidentiality of both Anomalous and Equation Set. OPM’s consideration of Anomalous and Equation Set as suspects does not qualify as proof that they took part in the hacking. It should also be noted that even if customers from Anomalous and US-based Equation Set are to be investigated, the clients’ investigation would be different from that of the companies. Therefore it is plausible to conclude that CyberTech can effectively represent both companies without the concern that a conflict of interest may undermine their ability to provide a proper defense for both entities.
Considering and Analyzing Other Viewpoints, Conclusions, and Solutions
Research conducted by American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (2016), revealed that even though a conflict of interest may exist, that it is not the threshold to make a company desist from or refuse to represent a client. The scenario implies that the conflict of interest in the case involving the representation of both Equation Set and Anomalous, does not solely warrant grounds for CyberTech to desist from representing the two clients. The most important thing is for the company to be aware that such a conflict of interest exists, and take the precautions necessary to ensure the conflict of interest does not affect CyberTech’s ability to serve the two clients according to ethics and the rule of law.
Even though the company has the option of declining to represent one of the clients, it may not be the best decision, as it would cause a loss in revenue. CyberTech can maintain a good image through representing the two enterprises in a transparent manner that adheres to all ethical requirements and laws that govern their interactions. Davis, ; Stark (2001), asserted that a firm cannot represent two clients in the same or related case in which the substance of the representation is similar, but that is not applicable to the case at hand. From a more critical point view, CyberTech at the outset, should have confirmed that the scenario it is facing is not one of the few cases which prohibits the representation of clients under the same circumstances.
The fact of the case involving the representation of US-based Equation Set and Anomalous, indicates that these two case are not related to each other in terms of their representation by the firm. CyberTech is henceforth given the liberty to represent the two clients, as long as their firm does not go against the rule of law or violate ethical provisions that guide the representation of the cases, such as breach of the confidentiality of the companies. Caution has to be taken especially when it comes to the point where clients from the two companies need to be investigated. There is a high chance the clients from the two companies may be investigated, and CyberTech should prepare for such an eventuality. The best way the company can prepare for the possibility is by administering unbiased interviews for the clients, and not ask leading questions during the investigation. Consent should also be sought from the clients before they are investigated.
The facts of the case stated above offer conclusive information that forms the basis for the recommendation that the company to pursue the two cases simultaneously. CyberTech needs to understand that representing the clients in the cases may possibly present a conflict of interest. If this firm were to succumb to the conflict of interest, it may have a negative effect on the image on the conduct and operations of the company as a consulting firm. Evidence involving similar cases have revealed that such representations can only be discouraged if there is a high likelihood that a breach of contract may occur. The CyberTech case offers a scenario where the company can represent both the law firm investigating the hacking of OPM, and the clients from the firms that are suspected without having to breach their contracts.