Negotiation research has clearly found that deception is toxic to negotiation. When detected, lies and other forms of deception trigger negative emotions, anger, prompt retaliation, and irrevocably damage trust between negotiators, as well as the parties to the negotiation. Once trust is lost and your reputation damaged, it can take years to repair and future negotiation becomes more difficult. Most research on deception has revealed that lies have selfish motives, such as a negotiator lying to get a better deal at a counterpart’s expense. This research was done by Emma E. Levine and Maurice E. Schweitzer of the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School and published in the journal, Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes.
The Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct (TDRPC) are mandatory on all lawyers, whether acting in the capacity of a lawyer advocate for a client or a lawyer mediator serving as a neutral. “A lawyer shall not assist or counsel a client to engage in conduct that the lawyer knows is criminal or fraudulent.” DR 1.02 (c) TDRPC.
“In the course of representing a client a lawyer shall not knowingly: (a) make a false statement of material fact or law to a third person; or (b) fail to disclose a material fact to a third person when disclosure is necessary to avoid making the lawyer a criminal act or knowing assist a fraudulent act perpetrated by a client.” DR 4.01 TDRPC.
A material misrepresentation by one party to a mediated settlement agreement (MSA) can support rescission or repudiation by the other party. Boyd v. Boyd, 67 S.W.3d 398, 404-405, (Tex. App. —-Fort Worth 2002, no pet.) In Boyd, husband failed to disclose retirement accounts, stock options, and an earned, unpaid bonus in a MSA. Wife repudiated the MSA based on husband’s failure to disclose. The trial court denied enforcement based on husband’s material misrepresentations and omissions. The appellate court agreed, stating that a duty to speak exists when “the parties to a mediated settlement agreement have represented to one another that they have each disclosed the marital property known to them.” Id. at 405. “When one voluntarily discloses information, he has a duty to disclose the whole truth rather than making a partial disclosure that conveys a false impression. “ Id at 405 (quoting World Help v. Leisure Lifestyles, Inc., 977 S.W.2d 662, 670, (Tex. App.—Fort Worth 1998, pet denied).
Truth prevails over deception.
“Truth never damages a cause that is just.”
― Mahatma Gandhi
“Integrity is telling myself the truth. And honesty is telling the truth to other people.”
― Spencer Johnson