Government approves new conflict rules

The government has finally approved the Law Society’s new conflicts of interest rules, nearly a year after they were drafted.

The rules, clarifying what solicitors must do in cases of conflicts of interest and with regard to confidentiality and disclosure, prompted a barrage of criticism when they were published in June 2005. The proposals were first approved by the Law Society Council in July 2004.

The conflict of interest rule prevents solicitors from acting for more than one client except where there is a “substantial common interest” and all the clients concerned have given informed, written consent.

The disclosure and confidentiality rules sets out the perameters for disclosing information to clients, and when permission must be sought to disclose confidential information.

A Law Society spokesperson confirmed that the rules had been approved, and added: “The Law Society is issuing guidance to solicitors as well as publishing new rules themselves.”