• The ethical considerations and rules of professional conduct which apply to those working in the legal profession, and how such considerations and rules may impact on their work.
• The methods of research and finding and communicating the relevant information to provide advice on the issues raised in the scenario. You will need to:
o Apply the rules of professional conduct in the context of the scenario
o Advise the client in relation to the professional conduct matters arising in the scenario
o Conclude with a summary of the potential breaches of professional conduct
o Ensure that all assertions, submissions or statements are supported by reference to a relevant authority.
SRA Code of Conduct 2011
Adrian had sustained a medical condition while working for Northern and Western Coal and Minerals Company. Sutton and Co advised Adrian that he would be able to make a claim for general damages only. Adrian got to know that he has a much greater claim in terms of special damages. Adrian discovered that the representative of Sutton and Co was the brother of a senior executive at Northern and Western Coal and Minerals Company. Adrian also found out that Sutton and Co had taken money from Northern and Western Coal and Minerals Company in order to settle the claim at a low cost
The issue in this case is to determine whether the Adrian can make a successful claim of breach of professional conduct and professional negligence against Sutton and Co for a failure to provide him with relevant advice and the damages suffered.
SRA (Solicitor Regulatory Authority) Code of Conduct 2011 is in place in the UK for the purpose of setting out guidelines to the Solicitors in relation to how they should carry out with their work activities. There are ten mandatory principles provided in the code. The first principle provides that a solicitor must always adhere to the rule of law and indulge in the appropriate administration of justice. The second principle provides that a solicitor must incorporate the principles of integrity into actions. The third principle provides that a solicitor must not provide any scope where independent decision making may be compromised. The fourth principle provides that a solicitor must work in a way which is to ensure the clients best interest. The fifth principle provides that a solicitor must give such services to the client which may be considered as of an appropriate standard. The sixth principle provides that a solicitor must act in a manner through which the trust held by the public is maintained in relation to both legal services and the solicitor. The seventh principle provides that a solicitor must act in compliance with regulatory and legal provisions and interact with the ombudsmen and the regulators in a timely, open and co-operative manner. The eighth principle provides that a solicitor must carry out the role and run the business in a manner which is effective and ensure proper governance, financial and risk management. The ninth principle provides that a solicitor must ensure encouragement of equal opportunity in business as well as respect for diversity. The tenth principle provides that a solicitor must ensure that the clients’ assets and money are protected
According to the code it is the duty of the solicitor in relation to the clients to ensure that the clients are treated in a fair manner, the interest of the clients is protected in the proper administration of justice and they inform the client about all facts which may materially prejudice their interest.
In the case of “Solicitors Regulation Authority v Dennison” the issue before the court was that to determine whether the solicitor had indulged in a professional misconduct. The solicitor in this case uses to work for another organization before joining the present firm. There was dealing between the present firm and the previous organization of the solicitor where he had material interest. In this situation it was the duty of the solicitor to ensure that he discloses such interest to the present firm and avoid any conflict of interest or a situation where his capacity of making independent judgment is compromised. However the solicitor did not do so. The court in this case found the solicitor guilty of professional misconduct in the situation where he failed to disclose the interest to the present firm.
In the case of “Alastair Brett v Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA)”, the court had found that the solicitor had violated the principles of the code by providing a wrong legal advice to his clients which did not comply with the principles of proper administration of justice.
In Solicitors Regulation Authority v Sharma it had been ruled by the court that where a solicitor has acted in a dishonest manner whether or not he has indulged in the action or not he is liable for the breach of the code.
In the resent case of SRA v David Goldberg, White & Case LLP the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal had imposed a fine worth £250,000 on White & case. This has been the largest fine which has been imposed upon a law firm working in England and Wales. The fine was in relation to the conflict of interest situation. This was because the defendant firm and their partners were representing clients of the opposite side and thus had failed to avoid a conflict of interest situation which was very likely to arise in the situation. In addition they had also not disclosed such interest to the clients. In Georgian American Alloys Inc v White & Case  EWHC 94the client had applied for an injunction in relation when they got to know about the situation and the order was granted by the court.
Application of SRA Code of Conduct 2011
In the given situation whether there has been a professional misconduct on the part of Sutton or not would be determined through the application of the above discussed code or conduct and legal cases.
Firstly the code of conduct clearly states through the second principle that the solicitors have to incorporate integrity in their actions. It is clearly visible in the situation that integrity has not been observed by the solicitors as they had accepted money from Northern and Western Coal and Minerals Company that they will not let any claims go to court and settle them for less money. Thus in this case it is clear that the code in relation to integrity has been violated and there has been professional misconduct on the part of Sutton.
According to the third principle of the code of conduct the solicitors must not indulge in any action where the independence of the solicitor in relation to decision making may be compromised. In the given situation it is provided that the partner of the firm who provided advice to Adrian had a brother who was working as a senior executive in Northern and Western Coal and Minerals Company. Thus from the given facts it is clear that due to the situation, the independence of the partner is at the risk of being compromised. Thus the third code of the code of conduct has also been violated in the situation and there is professional misconduct on the part of the solicitors.
According to the fourth principle of the code it is the duty of the solicitors to ensure that they work in the best interest of the clients. However in the given situation it has been provided that the solicitors failed to provide appropriate advice to Adrian in relation to the special damages which he could recover from Northern and Western Coal and Minerals Company. As a result Adrian has faced several losses which he would not be able to recover anymore as the application time has expired. Thus it is clear that the actions of the solicitors had not been in the best interest of Adrian and they had put their own interest before his interest and thus they have indulged in professional misconduct.
As per the fifth principle of the code it was a duty of the solicitors to provide a service which may be considered that of an appropriate standard. However in the given situation it is clear that services which have been provided to Adrian has not been of an appropriate standard as the solicitors missed out on computing the special damages which Adrian would have been entitled to due to the injury caused to him and the losses incurred by him as a result of the injury.
As per the facts it is also evident that the solicitors had failed to act in a way where public trust is upheld. This is because they have not acted in the best interest of the client in the pursuit of personal interest. The public of notified about the situation would not have trust of solicitors advice. Thus as a violation of the sixth principle the solicitors have indulged into professional misconduct. In addition they have also violated the tenth principle which is in relation to the protection of clients’ money and assents. They have not ensured that Adrian receives the total amount of damages he was actually entitled to.
In addition through the application of the above discussed cases also it can be stated that the solicitors had indulged in professional misconduct. Firstly as per the case of Solicitors Regulation Authority v Dennison there was a failure on the part of the defendant to disclose the personal interest he had in another company to the present firm. The same failure has also been observed in the situation where the firm has not discussed the interest they had with Northern and Western Coal and Minerals Company.
Further through the application of SRA v David Goldberg, White & Case LLP case it is also clear that a conflict of interest situation has to be avoided by the solicitors which was not done in the present case. Thus they are liable for professional misconduct.
Adrian can make claim against Sutton for professional misconduct.
Alastair Brett v Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA)  EWHC 2974
Authority, Solicitors Regulation. "Solicitors’ Code of Conduct." online: SRA https://www. sra. org. uk/code-of-conduct. page(2011).
Boon, Andrew. "Understanding lawyer default in England and Wales: an analysis of insurance and complaints data." International Journal of the Legal Profession 24.2 (2017): 91-108.
Grech, Andrew, and Tahlia Gordon. "Modern Law Firm Management." (2015).
Solicitors Regulation Authority v Dennison  ALL ER (D) 320 (MAR)
Solicitors Regulation Authority v Sharma  EWHC 2022
SRA v David Goldberg, White & Case LLP Case No. 11592-2016
Vaughan, Steven. "Guidance and the regulatory space for solicitors." (2015).
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