Have my instructions – and my number

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By Legal Futures

28 May 2010

Office flirt: relationships with clients are not banned but raise several issues

Q. I am acting for a client in connection with his divorce which is at an early stage of the proceedings. He has now asked me out, but I am not sure whether it would be appropriate to agree. What is the SRA’s position on this?

A. The rules of conduct do not prohibit a solicitor having a relationship with a client per se, but you cannot act if your duty to act in the best interests of the client conflicts with your own interests, or there is a significant risk that they may do so (rule 3.01(2) of the Code).

This could happen, for example, if you were acting in connection with the financial settlement whilst cohabiting or planning to cohabit with the client, since this would be likely to have an indirect impact on your own financial position.

In addition, you need to be able to act both with integrity, and in the best interests of the client (rules 1.02 and 1.04 of the Code). You need to consider carefully, therefore, whether a relationship with the client could impair your ability to give the client independent and impartial advice (see rule 3, guidance notes 47 and 48).

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