The following Practice Compliance Q&A provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:
Incorrectly terminating a retainer can have serious consequences, eg you:
are not entitled to be paid for any of the work done on the client's matter
could be subject to disciplinary sanctions by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA)
Requirements about terminating the retainer can largely be found in the Solicitors Act 1974 and case law. There is a unified message: to terminate a retainer you must have good cause and you must give reasonable notice to the client.
A retainer is normally an entire contract under which you agree to do certain work for the client. If you wrongfully terminate the retainer you are not entitled to any payment at all for the work you have done, either on a quantum meruit or any other basis.
There is an implied term that a solicitor can terminate the retainer on reasonable notice for good cause, eg:
failure to provide funds for disbursements
failure to give adequate instructions
the client requiring you to behave unlawfully or unethically
the client obstructing you or preventing you from dealing with the matter
where there is a serious breakdown in confidence between you and the client
inappropriate sexual advances or innuendoes, especially to junior staff; violence; or other inappropriate behaviour (this may be a situation where reasonable notice is not required and if it occurs
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