The name of a source of compensation may be excluded only if that information is specifically determined to be confidential as a result of a privileged relationship established by law and if the disclosure is specifically prohibited:
- by law or regulation,
- by a rule of a professional licensing organization, or
- by a client agreement that at the time of engagement of the filer’s services expressly provided that the client’s name would not be disclosed publicly to any person.
It is rare for a filer to rely on this exception, and it is extremely rare for a filer to rely on this exception for more than a few clients. Examples of situations that fall into one of the three criteria outlined above include:
- the client’s identity is protected by a statute or court order or the client’s identity is under seal;
- the client is the subject of a pending grand jury proceeding or other non-public investigation in which there are no public filings, statements, appearances, or reports that identify him or her;
- disclosure is prohibited by a rule of professional conduct that can be enforced by a professional licensing body; or
- a written confidentiality agreement, entered into at the time that your services were retained, expressly prohibits disclosure of the client’s identity.
A client will not be deemed confidential merely based on the filer’s belief that the client would prefer not to be disclosed or based on the fame or social standing of the client. Similarly, the mere existence of a privileged relationship is not enough to preclude disclosure, absent one or more additional conditions explained above.
Example: A nominee who is a partner or employee of a law firm and who has worked on a matter involving a client from which the firm received over $5,000 in fees during a calendar year must report the name of the client only if the value of the services rendered by the nominee exceeded $5,000. The name of the client would not normally be considered confidential, unless the matter potentially involved an investigation or enforcement action involving the client by the government and the client’s name has never been disclosed publicly in connection with the representation. As a result, the nominee must disclose the client’s identity unless it is protected by statute, a court order, is under seal, or is considered confidential because: (1) The client is the subject of a nonpublic proceeding or investigation and the client has not been identified in a public filing, statement, appearance, or official report; (2) disclosure of the client’s name is specifically prohibited by a rule of professional conduct that can be enforced by a professional licensing body; or (3) a privileged relationship was established by a written confidentiality agreement, entered into at the time that the filer’s services were retained, that expressly prohibits disclosure of the client’s identity.