Conflict rules to be eased by Law Society

Law Society president Peter Williamson has given the strongest indication yet that the conflicts rules will be clarified in favour of City practice, subject to Law Society Council approval at the end of next month.

At a risk management conference organised by insurer The St Paul last week, Williamson said: “Solicitors will be able to act with consent in specified circumstances where minor conflict exists between two or more clients, and firms will also be able to act for two or more clients who are bidding for the same outcome, such as in a private auction.”

The new rules come after years of consultation by the society, and will be less restrictive than the current regime.

Using points of law such as those defined in Prince Jefri, the guidance should enable large City firms to act for two parties in cases where they might previously have fallen between the gaps of the rules.

The use of Chinese walls will also be codified, according to Williamson. He commented: “A separate rule… will permit information barriers in certain circumstances. That the client has consented must be incontrovertible.”