Client conflicts in criminal matters—when can you act?
Client conflicts in criminal matters—when can you act?

The following Practice Compliance practice note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Client conflicts in criminal matters—when can you act?
  • What is a client conflict of interest?
  • When might a client conflict arise?
  • Related matters
  • Indirect conflicts
  • Can you act if there is a client conflict?
  • Other confidentiality and disclosure issues
  • Duty of confidentiality
  • Duty of disclosure
  • Acting for co-defendants
  • More...

There are two types of conflict: own interest conflicts and client conflicts of interest. This Practice Note explains when you can act if there is or may be a conflict of interests between two or more clients in a criminal matter. For the wider regulatory requirements on conflicts of interests, see Practice Notes: Conflicts of interest 2019 and Conflicts of interest—systems and controls 2019.

What is a client conflict of interest?

A client conflict of interest arises where your separate duties to act in the best interests of two or more clients conflict in relation to the same matter or a related matter. The SRA simply calls this type of conflict a ‘conflict of interest’.

You must not act in relation to a matter or particular aspect of it if you have a client conflict of interest or a significant risk of such a conflict in relation to that matter or aspect of it, unless you fall within one of two exceptions and meet certain specific conditions.

Conflicts in criminal matters are most likely to arise between co-defendants. There may, however, be a client conflict arising out of another matter in which you are instructed. Client conflicts are fact sensitive. There is no definitive list. You will have to decide in each case whether a conflict has occurred or might occur, and if so whether you can act.

When

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