Third party relationships: moral hazards and conflicts of interest

Third party relationships: moral hazards and conflicts of interest

A solicitor working for a Preston firm has been struck off by the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal after several allegations brought against him were proved. The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) brought a total of ten allegations against him, including failing to act with integrity, acting where there was a conflict of interests and acting in a manner which led to his independence and that of his firm being compromised. See here.

What issues did this case raise?

There have been a number of cases over the last 15-20 years involving solicitors who have entered into relationships with people who refer work to them which have turned out to be problematical. About five or six years ago there were a series of disciplinary cases arising from solicitors’ involvement in the Miners’ Compensation Scheme work where solicitors gained work from claims management companies and trade unions and where it was alleged that clients were not fully advised as to whether paying a referral fee was in their best interest. A similar issue was raised here. An introduction fee was paid but it was based on success which may provide the solicitor and introducer with the wrong incentives and it was found that clients were not properly advised.

This case involved various other issues although they were interrelated. Another issue was the relationship between the ownership of the firm and the people who were funding the claims. It appeared that a conflict of interest was involved and the clients received no independent advice. So the conflicts of interest and the funding of cases were part of the same problem. The financial relationship between the parties centered on the solicitor and some individuals who were running the practice.

The case is significant in that it is the latest case which demonstrates the dangers of solicitors entering into arrangements involving both the obtaining of clients and the

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