Conflict changes get Law Soc green light

The Law Society Standards Board this week approved two of the proposed amendments to the conflicts and confidentiality paper recently withdrawn from the Law Society Council.

A third amendment, relating to a solicitor’s duty to disclose, was not passed. Led by chair Andrew Holroyd, the board rejected a suggestion that duty to disclose could be implied as well as being explicit.

The approved amendments clarified two points: that although an individual solicitor has a duty to disclose information to a client, this does not preclude a partner in the same firm from advising the client; and that the principles of the 1998 Prince Jefri case should be part of the confidentiality rules.

Work on the amendments has been going on for four years. Following a report produced by a City Law Society working party in July 2000, the Law Society launched a consultation document, but it was not until 2002 that the Standards Board began work on refining and drafting the new conflicts and confidentiality rules. If approved by the council, these will replace Chapters 15 and 16 of The Guide to Professional Conduct of Solicitors.

It is hoped that the Law Society Council will finally approve the paper when it meets in July. The paper was withdrawn two weeks ago following issues raised by firms including Slaughter and May.