Undertakings and the court
Undertakings and the court

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

  • Undertakings and the court
  • What is an undertaking?
  • Alternative methods of enforcement
  • Enforcement action by the SRA
  • Civil action in the court
  • The court’s inherent jurisdiction
  • Overlap between inherent jurisdiction and civil action

This Practice Note explains:

  1. what powers the court has to enforce undertakings

  2. when it is likely to exercise those powers

Breach of an undertaking is also likely to be professional misconduct and can be dealt with by the SRA. You should be cautious about accepting undertakings from freelance solicitors and non-SRA firms, including solicitors working in non-SRA firms. For more guidance, see Practice Note: Dealing with freelance solicitors.

What is an undertaking?

An undertaking is:

  1. a statement, given orally or in writing (whether or not it includes the word 'undertake' or 'undertaking')

  2. to someone who reasonably places reliance on it

  3. that you or a third party will do something or cause something to be done, or refrain from doing something

All these component parts must exist for an undertaking to arise.

In the vast majority of cases it will be obvious whether an undertaking has been given. Not every statement of intent or promise made by a solicitor is an undertaking. If this were the case, then a promise to return a telephone call could be said to be an enforceable undertaking. The difficulty is finding the line between an enforceable undertaking and a simple statement of intent or promise. There are no clear rules about whether a particular promise is an undertaking; each case will turn on its own facts but the