Client dropped by solicitors / Wann kann sich ein Anwalt vom Mandanten trennen?

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

* 8.

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.

The barristers’ professional body is the Bar Council. The code of conduct for barristers is on the website of the Bar Standards Board.

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(a) his instructions have been withdrawn;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.

11 thoughts on “Client dropped by solicitors / Wann kann sich ein Anwalt vom Mandanten trennen?

  1. I find that interesting. Is the same true for barristers also?

    In our system, the Rechtsanwalt may “das Mandat niederlegen” at any time, although he must continue acting for a fortnight to the extent required to shield his (ex-)client from legal detriments.

    • I have checked up for solicitors – Solicitors code of Conduct:

      ‘# 8.

      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.*

      As for barristers, they are normally instructed by solicitors and don’t have a direct relationship to the client. They used not to be able to sue for fees – not sure if that’s still the case. The situation is more complicated. There is a cab-rank rule, by which barristers have to accept instructions, just like taxis at a cab rank, with certain restrictions (if they specialize in criminal law, they don’t have to act in a different field etc.)

      The URL is rather long and normal html doesn’t seem to work here, but if you look at, you can find the code of conduct for barristers. Actually, I will post this stuff in the continuation of the entry – it’s quite interesting.

      • I agree, it’s interestig. Yes, barristers are instructed by solicitors (I’ve read my fait share of “Rumpole of the Bailey”, you know :-), but still, can they simply retire from a case without good reason? So I take your answer to mean “no”.

        We have a somewhat similar provision here, if you are able and willing to pay the fees but are unable to find a lawyer to take your case, the bar association will designate one; who then, as you might have guessed, cannot simply stop working for this client without good reason.

        • Did you not read my quote and see my link to the barristers’ code of conduct in the extended entry? I am actually working today so I don’t want to paraphrase the whole thing.

          I did not mean to imply that you don’t know that barristers are instructed by solicitors. It just alters the position slightly. Solicitors can be appointed by the court too. For barristers, there was also once the term ‘dock brief’ – appointed by the judge in court. But I don’t know how much mandatory representation there is in England or Austria. It’s perfectly possible for a client to be abandoned for good reason by such appointed lawyers.

        • 1. Barristers of the Independent Practising Bar do not accept instructions only from Solicitors. Public Access Rules have allowed them since 2004 to be instructed by members of the public directly, inc. professionals such as architects and accountants:

          Overseas Barristers in satellite Chambers – i.e. Brussels and Rome – can accept instructions from anyone.

          2. Employed Barristers accept instructions from a Non-Solicitor Employer direct and, if a Bar-Licensed Advocate, have rights of audience in court.

          3. The cab-rank rule still ‘obtains’ but is easily circumvented. The Chambers Clerk can simply tell a Solicitors’ Firm or DPA/Direct Professional Access Client that a member of Chambers is unavailable, is booked up or has no experience in that field (i.e. unsuitable)and recommends another one. If the Sol. client insists, he or she is told that the Barrister cannot be in 2 places at once. Or mummy Barrister with a sick child/children-to-school etc. simply sends another member of Chambers to ‘devil’ the brief and take over the case in court – to the Judge’s displeasure and threats of contempt of court (actual scenario/no names mentioned)

          4. Certain members of the Bar of England & Wales just ignore communications from fellow-members or members of the public and rely on English lethargy in not reporting the event.

          5. Part VI – Rules 601 to 608 of the Code of Conduct Margaret refers to allows for acceptance OR return i.e. declining of instructions inc. where there is prof. ’embarrassment’ or conflict of interests.

          6. Talking of Rumpole, I refer you to Sir John Mortimer QC’s autobiography ‘Clinging to the Wreckage’ where he admitted refusing to act for an ex-hangman after capital punishment was abolished in the UK and ‘thereby broke almost every rule in the book’.

          7. On Barristers not suing for their fees: the UK Courts & Legal Services Act 1990 allows Eng. & Wales Barristers to make with Sols. a fee-paying contract which is enforceable, but most Barristers haven’t taken up the idea or couldn’t be bothered for fear of putting off instructing Sols.

          8. Instead, the Bar Council – whose members paradoxically include dedicated litigators – has recently failed to agree contractual terms with the Law Soc.: the Sols’ governing body and has ‘allowed’ the Law Soc. to remove, from the Sols’ Code of Conduct, the obligation on Sols. to pay Barristers’ fees out of an office account. It would be far-fetched to expect the opposite: payment out of client account as it is the Sol. who is the client of the Barrister.
          One small crumb of comfort: the Bar Council can forbid a consistently defaulting Sols’ firm instructing any Chambers whilst bills are still outstanding.

  2. I haven’t been allowed to give blood for the last 7 years because I lived in Germany from 1995-2001. It’s been 7 years but I haven’t developed any symptoms of mad cow. I used to be a VIP donor. It’s a real shame. I think it’s pretty myopic of the blood banks, but I guess I understand that they can’t risk it when the blood goes to severely ill and immunosuppressed patients.

    • I have added some more about the risks. I don’t know how long the incubation is for Creutzfeldt-Jacob, but quite long. It seemed odd to me to refuse British blood, but if I were on the receiving end I suppose I would prefer something else!

  3. I’m not allowed to donate blood as well (here in Germany, and I’m not British ;-) because I was living in the UK for more than six months in 1898/90 – apparently the most risky of times, at least that’s what the Red Cross said. It’s still pretty odd to me but on the other hand I saw the hysteria myself and the Government’s reaction (e.g. Gummer eating Hamburgers) – and I wouldn’t trust them! So I’d agree with Margaret and prefer else…

    • Yes, one forgets about these things, especially if one has only seen them from abroad. Good heavens, 1898 – the incubation period is obviously longer than I thought. As for Gummer, Wikipedia has this on Controversies:

      ‘He is noted for delaying a ban on beef in 1989.[5] and for the way he attempted to feed a beefburger to his four-year-old daughter Cordelia, at the height of the BSE panic in 1990, though photographs of the event were staged and the burger in fact bitten into by a civil servant. In 1997, he was awarded a Medal of Honour by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.’

      (Can’t help feeling there should be a new paragraph there).

    • Ah – I felt some compunction at having broadcast your story. But I found it odd at the time. Perhaps because I think I am too old to give blood here and I haven’t given any since the 1980s, near Oxford Circus.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.