Will drafting—professional negligence
Will drafting—professional negligence

The following Wills & Probate guidance note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Will drafting—professional negligence
  • Duties in contract
  • Duties in tort
  • Duties owed to beneficiaries
  • Mitigation by the claimant
  • Preparing, advising on and executing Wills
  • Limitation of actions

Duties in contract

The relationship between a solicitor and client is governed by the terms of the contract between them. This is supplemented by statute in the form of the Solicitors Act 1974 and by professional obligations set out in the SRA Standards and Regulations which applies not just to solicitors but to all those regulated by the SRA, eg Alternative Business Structures. As a result of this external influence, the contract between a solicitor and their client is most likely to be a written one but it does not have to be. It can be oral and there is no necessity for it to contain specific terms. However, this will be highly unusual and it would be expected for the contract and its terms to be fully set out in an engagement letter.

It has been held that a solicitor's duty to their client is primarily contractual in its scope and the scope of that retainer is determined by the terms of the contract. It is from that contract that a solicitor's dereliction or not must be judged. It is necessary to give an indication of the steps that the solicitor will carry out but an overall indication of the specific work to be carried out is generally couched in vague terms. As it is not detailed, the client's