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Client information requirements

22 November 2019
This practice note covers what information you need to provide to your client, whether that is in your client letter, at an initial interview, or in whatever context you are providing legal services.

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.

SRA Principles

There are seven mandatory principles which apply to all those the SRA regulates and to all aspects of practice. The principles can be found in the SRA Standards and Regulations.

The principles apply to all authorised individuals (solicitors, RELs and RFLs), authorised firms and their managers and employees. They also apply to individuals and the parts of a licensed body involved in delivering the regulated services.

Terminology

Must – A specific requirement in legislation or of a principle, rule, regulation or other mandatory provision in the SRA Standards and Regulations. You must comply, unless there are specific exemptions or defences provided for in relevant legislation or the SRA’s Regulatory Arrangements.

Should – Outside of a regulatory context, good practice for most situations in the Law Society’s view. In the case of the SRA Standards and Regulations, a 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.

Contents

  1. Introduction
    1. Who should read this practice note?
    2. What is the issue?
     
  2. Client care letters and terms of business
  3. SRA Standards and Regulations (STARs)
    1. SRA Principles
    2. SRA Code of Conduct for Solicitors, RELs and RFLs
    3. SRA Code of Conduct for Firms
    4. SRA Transparency Rules
    5. SRA Accounts Rules
    6. SRA Financial Services (Conduct of Business) Rules
     
  4. Initial interviews with clients
    1. Initial information obtained from the client
    2. Initial information given to the client
    3. The interview – main areas to cover
     
  5. The retainer – the contract between you and the client
  6. Helpful service information for clients
    1. Where to provide information
    2. Contact details
    3. Service levels
    4. Responsibilities
    5. Next steps
    6. Costs information
    7. Complaints information
     
  7. Other information to include
    1. Regulatory status
    2. Client protection
    3. Details on storage of documents and any related costs
    4. Confidentiality and disclosure
    5. Referral fees and fee sharing arrangements
    6. Separate business
    7. Processes for terminating the retainer
    8. Limitation of liability
    9. Money laundering and terrorist financing
    10. Customer due diligence (CDD)
    11. Making a disclosure
    12. Mortgage fraud
    13. Avoiding scams
     
  8. Financial arrangements
    1. Transfer of funds
    2. Payments of interest on money held in client accounts
    3. Protection for client accounts
     
  9. Terms of business
  10. Other requirements
    1. Provision of Services Regulations 2009
    2. The Consumer Contracts Regulations
    3. Data protection and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)
     
  11. Good practice guidance on communication
    1. Principles of effective communication
    2. Length and style
     
  12. Issues for different types of business structures
    1. Working in an unregulated business – in-house solicitors
    2. Working as an SRA-regulated freelance solicitor
     
  13. More information

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The Practice Advice Service provides a dedicated support line for Law Society members and employees of law firms. Call us on 020 7320 5675.

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