From The Times online:
But a spokesman for the Solicitors Regulation Authority said: “…while clients can sack solicitors at any time and for any reason, solicitors can only cease acting for a client with good reason, and usually with notice.”
One such reason, she said, would be if the client had evidently lost confidence in her lawyers, and continually defied their advice or broke legal instructions or agreements.
“Clients are free to say, ‘I don’t accept your advice.’ That alone is not sufficient to dump a client. But if a client has clearly lost faith in that he or she continually acts in a way that is contrary to what they believe is in her best interests, and particularly in breach of any agreements, then they could decline to act any more.”
This after Mishcon de Reya announced they are no longer acting for Heather Mills. They did not state why, but it seems she agreed not to make public comments about her marriage or her daughter. A transcript of a GMTV interview appeared on October 31.
See also an entry by John Bolch at Family Law. Quotes from the rules for solicitors and barristers in the extended entry.LATER NOTE: Further to a query in the comments, here is some information about disciplinary codes for solicitors and barristers (England and Wales9.
The solicitors’ professional body is the Law Society. The code of conduct for solicitors can be found on the website of the Solicitors Regulation Authority. Here’s the beginning of Ceasing to act – there is more:
Ceasing to act
A client can end the retainer with you at any time and for any reason. You may only end the relationship with the client if there is a good reason and after giving reasonable notice. The retainer is a contractual relationship and subject to legal considerations. Examples of good reasons include where there is a breakdown in confidence between you and the client, and where you are unable to obtain proper instructions.
Here is part of the section on Withdrawal from a case and return of instructions (barristers are normally instructed by solicitors):
609. Subject to paragraph 610 a barrister may withdraw from a case where he is satisfied that:
(a) his instructions have been withdrawn;
(b) his professional conduct is being impugned;
(c) advice which he has given in accordance with paragraph 607 or 703 has not been heeded; or
(d) there is some other substantial reason for so doing.