What is a solicitor's undertaking?
What is a solicitor's undertaking?

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

  • What is a solicitor's undertaking?
  • SRA definition
  • Distinguishing undertakings from non-enforceable promises
  • Time for compliance
  • Withdrawing an undertaking

An undertaking is a commitment by a solicitor to do something. It can be enforced against the solicitor by the courts. Failure to comply with an undertaking can also be professional misconduct leading to disciplinary action by the SRA or SDT.

This Practice Note explains what can constitute an undertaking. The court’s powers in relation to undertakings are explained in Practice Note: Undertakings and the court.

SRA definition

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.

Distinguishing undertakings from non-enforceable promises

Not every statement of intent or promise made by a solicitor is an undertaking. If this were the case, a promise to return a telephone call could be said to be an enforceable undertaking. In the vast majority of cases it will be obvious whether an undertaking has been given.

The difficulty is finding