The Florida Bar

Ethics Opinion

Opinion 70-49

December 7, 1970
Advisory ethics opinions are not binding.
When an attorney merely orders and then forwards title insurance for a client, the attorney is not
entitled to retain a rebate check on the premium paid because no legal service has been rendered.

DR 5-107(A)
Chairman Massey stated the opinion of the committee:
A member of The Florida Bar was retained by an out-of-state resident in
connection with the purchase of Florida real estate. Since the client was an
attorney, the Florida attorney rendered advice and assistance but the transaction
was closed in the other state. The Florida attorney did, however, order and
procure title insurance, after which the title insuring company’s agent issued the
Florida attorney a check to the order of the attorney representing the premium
after underwriting. The inquiry asks advice on the disposition of the check as the
Florida attorney rendered no service in respect to the title policy other than
ordering and forwarding the same.

The Committee unanimously concludes the check should be forwarded to the out-of-state
client. It was the duty of the Florida attorney to obtain the title insurance at the lowest applicable
premium and where a rebate is received, the saving should be passed on to the client. See C.P.R.
DR 5-107(A), wherein the prohibition exists of accepting from one, other than the attorney’s
client, anything of value related to his representation except with consent of the client after full
disclosure. In the instant case, it would be unconscionable to retain the check as service (an
opinion on the title or the like) was not rendered in the first instance.