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  • Conflicts of interest can arise at any stage during the course of the solicitor’s retainer.
  • Acting under a conflict is a breach of the solicitor’s fiduciary duty to the client and the Solicitors’ Rules.
  • The consequences can be significant and may result in a claim being made against the solicitor.

Circumstances often arise where it appears expedient for solicitors to act for both sides of a transaction or for multiple parties in litigation. Whilst parties may initially be attracted by the practical benefits of common representation, unforeseen incidents in the course of a matter could mean that the parties’ interests diverge or come into conflict with the solicitors’ commercial, legal or reputational interests.

Circumstances that may involve a conflict include:

  • a solicitor borrowing money from a client;
  • acting for both sides of a conveyancing transaction;
  • acting in litigation for co-defendants who might wish to bring claims for contribution against each other, for example, acting for a company and each of its directors; and
  • acting against a former client when the solicitors might have confidential information relating to the former client.

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