SRA acts on City calls to launch conflicts review
The Solicitors Regulatory Authority (SRA) is to launch a review into the conflict rules governing all solicitors after calls from leading firms and the City of London Law Society (CLLS) to increase flexibility for City firms.The review, which will be launched next month, comes just two years after the Law Society amended its code of conduct, including the conflicts regulations, in a drawn-out process.It will see the regulator look into rule three and four of the code of conduct, covering conflicts of interest and client confidentiality policies respectively, after lobbying from City firms, which argue current policies are unsuitable when advising 'sophisticated' corporate clients. The process will be overseen by SRA head of ethics policy Bronwen Still.A spokesperson for the SRA said: "Conflicts is the one area which you have to keep continually under review because of the nature of practice is continually changing."The SRA is working alongside the CLLS professional rules and regulation committee, chaired by Clifford Chance general counsel Chris Perrin, to look at increasing flexibility.Brick Court Chambers conflicts specialist Charles Hollander QC commented: "Rules three and four are stricter than the law. However, a law firm cannot be loyal to two clients, which makes it difficult for firms in niche markets."Norton Rose head of compliance Jonathan Ody added: "Often it is banks that feel it would be nice if we could also act for their customers. Other clients would appreciate it too."Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer famously found itself on the wrong side of the conflicts rules after agreeing to accept a mandate for Philip Green on his 2004 bid for Marks & Spencer, despite having advised the retailer.
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