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Attendance of solicitors at local authority Children Act meetings

Last updated: 9 August 2016

Note that the SRA Handbook (version 21) was replaced by the SRA Standards and Regulations on, and with effect from, 25 November 2019.

This practice note will shortly be updated to reflect the introduction of the SRA Standards and Regulations. Until then, you are advised to check any references in the practice note to the current Handbook against the new Standards and Regulations to ensure that you are aware of the up-to-date position on all issues to which the practice note refers.

The Law Society's guidance has been sought on the application to local authority Children Act meetings of Outcome 11.01 and Indicative Behaviour 11.4 in the Solicitors Regulation Authority Code of Conduct 2011.

Legal status

This practice note is the Law Society's view of good practice in this area. It is not legal advice.

Practice notes are issued by the Law Society for the use and benefit of its members. They represent the Law Society's view of good practice in a particular area. They are not intended to be the only standard of good practice that solicitors can follow. You are not required to follow them, but doing so will make it easier to account to oversight bodies for your actions.

Practice notes are not legal advice, nor do they necessarily provide a defence to complaints of misconduct or of inadequate professional service. While care has been taken to ensure that they are accurate, up to date and useful, the Law Society will not accept any legal liability in relation to them.

For queries or comments on this practice note contact the Law Society's Practice Advice Service.

Professional conduct

The following sections of the SRA Handbook and in the Solicitors Regulation Authority Code of Conduct 2011 apply:

principle 2 – act with integrity
principle 6 – behave in a way that maintains the trust the public places in you, and in the provision of legal services

Outcome 11.01: you do not take unfair advantage of third parties in either your professional or personal capacity.

Indicative Behaviour 11.4: ensuring that you do not communicate with another party when you are aware that the other party has retained a lawyer in a matter, except:

(a) to request the name and address of the other party's lawyer; or
(b) the other party's lawyer consents to you communicating with the client; or
(c) where there are exceptional circumstances.

Terminology

Must - A specific requirement in legislation or of a principle, rule, outcome or other mandatory provision in the SRA Handbook. You must comply, unless there are specific exemptions or defences provided for in relevant legislation or the SRA Handbook.

Should - Outside of a regulatory context, good practice for most situations in the Law Society's view. In the case of the SRA Handbook, an indicative behaviour or other non-mandatory provision (such as may be set out in notes or guidance). These may not be the only means of complying with legislative or regulatory requirements and there may be situations where the suggested route is not the best possible route to meet the needs of your client. However, if you do not follow the suggested route, you should be able to justify to oversight bodies why the alternative approach you have taken is appropriate, either for your practice, or in the particular retainer.

May - A non-exhaustive list of options for meeting your obligations or running your practice. Which option you choose is determined by the profile of the individual practice, client or retainer. You may be required to justify why this was an appropriate option to oversight bodies.

SRA Code - SRA Code of Conduct 2011

SRA - Solicitors Regulation Authority

IB - Indicative behaviour 

The Law Society also provides a full glossary of other terms used throughout this practice note.

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