The Practical Lawyer


Implied retainer – duty of care?

Another reminder of the importance of having a clear retainer letter which sets out who the client is, and the scope of liability. This is particularly important if you are acting for a company – are you, or are you not, also acting for the individual directors?
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Free advice – friends

We have all given free advice to friends. The dangers of doing so are well illustrated by a recent case involving an architect.
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Accounts rules – client-to-client transfers

Rule 27.2 says that if a private loan is to be made by (or to) joint clients, the consent of each client must be obtained. Often, such instructions are made orally by a lender. But, it is important to get the written authority from both lender and borrower on the file.
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Professional – update

The Slater & Gordon saga rumbles on; the firm posted a loss of £492m for the half (!) year, largely because of the mess it made in buying the assets of Quindell [2016] LSG 7 March 1. Old hands will often suggest that the time to settle a claim with a law firm that is in financial strain is just before the end of the billing quarter or billing month – when staff are under enormous pressure to meet their targets.
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Web browser – Explorer

Microsoft’s web browser, Explorer, has always been regarded as somewhat clunky and insecure. Now, however, Microsoft has abandoned earlier versions and will only provide support for the most recent version (v11). Moreover, according to a recent report, some 60% of small and medium-sized businesses are using those older, unsupported, versions.

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Client care – ADR notice

The ADR directive requires law firms to provide ADR information to clients. Accordingly if you have not already amended your client care letter to include a reference to an ADR-approved body, you should do so immediately to avoid potential disciplinary action by the SRA.

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Professional – update

News that the AA has closed its legal business (largely PI) will surprise few [2016] LSG 25 January 4. Likewise, the news that Slater & Gordon is considering some office closures [2015] LSG 1 February 3. On the other hand, Burford (which claims to be one of the largest litigation funders in the world) has now been granted an ABS licence, which opens up the prospect of a litigation funder putting cash into its own law firm [2016] LSG 18 January 1. Also on the funding front, Cardiff-based Capital Law has set up its own litigation fund (apparently up to £50m) to offer direct finance to clients [2016] LSG 1 February 1.

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SDT – book

There is an excellent new book on SDT; it is extremely comprehensive and it contains many cases that are not available on the web. It has a practical bias and is highly recommended for anyone who has the misfortune to get involved in such proceedings. Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal – Law and Practice (Nigel West and Susanna Heley; The Law Society; £125).


Retainer – unbundled services

Solicitors offering ‘unbundled’ services do not have a broader duty of care to their clients. Thus, solicitors can offer narrow, bespoke-defined services without having to worry about advising more generally.
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SRA – accountant’s report

The exemption from having to obtain an accountant’s report requires firms to assess at the end of the accounting period whether (i) the average (at least five-weekly) balance of client money they have held or received is less than, or equal to, £10,000, and (ii) the maximum aggregated total of client money held or received is less than, or equal to, £250,000.
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Page 7 of 32

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Self-employed – or worker?
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