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My solicitor has told me they have a conflict of interest, what does that mean?

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Common ways to fund a personal injury claim

Under the Solicitors Regulation Authority’s (SRA) Code of Conduct for Solicitors, registered European lawyers (RELs) and registered foreign lawyers (RFLs) and the SRA Code of Conduct for Firms, you cannot act for a client if there is a conflict of interest, or significant risk of a conflict. This is where their duty to act in the best interests of two or more different clients may conflict. 

When a new client comes to us with the intention of instructing us to assist them with a personal injury claim, we carry out a conflict check on both the client, and their opponent (the individual, company or body they are looking to claim against).

Conducting a conflict check is an important part of ethical practice for lawyers. It ensures that the lawyer or firm is not placed in a position where its loyalty to one client could be compromised by its representation of another client. 

If you’ve been told your solicitor has a conflict of interest, this means they cannot act for you. This can happen at the beginning of the case, or, in some cases, a conflict will arise during the lifetime of a case. For example, when a driver and a passenger who have been injured in a road traffic accident both seek to claim, but then liability is disputed and the driver of our client’s vehicle becomes the defendant. The solicitor would be unable to continue acting for both the driver and the passenger, as this would be a conflict of interest. Or if a firm has a relationship with a potential defendant, it wouldn’t be appropriate for them to act for someone looking to bring a claim against them.

If you are advised that your solicitor has a conflict, they will advise that you contact an alternative solicitor for advice. The firm may offer to transfer your file to another firm, but you have freedom of choice as to whether to use them or find a different firm you would like to instruct to represent you.

If you find yourself in this situation, contact our new business advisors on 0161 696 6235 who will be able to take details of your enquiry, and advise you further.

By Donna Wilkes, new business advisor