You are here:
  1. Home
  2. Support services
  3. Advice
  4. Practice notes
  5. Conflicts of interests in criminal cases

Conflicts of interests in criminal cases

Last updated: 13 January 2016

This practice note concerns the particular way in which criminal defence solicitors need to consider the avoidance of conflicts of interest when considering whether it is appropriate to act for more than one suspect or defendant, who are being investigated for or charged with related criminal proceedings.

Following publication of the SRA Code the Law Society wishes to remind practitioners that the guidance on this issue previously contained in the Solicitor's Code of Conduct 2007 is unchanged.

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 Code are relevant to this issue:

Principle 4 in the Introduction to the SRA Code  

  • Chapter 3 on conflicts of interests

SRA Principles

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

The principles apply to solicitors or managers of authorised bodies who are practising from an office outside the UK. They also apply if you are a lawyer-controlled body practising from an office outside the UK.

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

2007 Code - Solicitors’ Code of Conduct 2007

OFR - Outcomes-focused regulation

SRA - Solicitors Regulation Authority

IB - Indicative behaviour

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

Sign In or Register

This is premium content

To access premium content login to My Law Society.

Not registered? My Law Society is free and open to all users. Register below.

Not registered?

Registration is free and will only take a couple of minutes.

If you are a member of The Law Society you can use your MySRA account details to register.

Register
Update your contact preferences

Update your details in My Law Society and tell us how you want to hear from us.

Practice Advice Service

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

> Contact the Practice Advice Service
Previous versions

Previous versions of this page are available below:

Recommended

Criminal Litigation Accreditation
Criminal Litigation - recognition for excellence

Our accreditation covers all types of criminal law work and supports practitioners to qualify to apply for inclusion on local duty solicitor rotas.

Criminal Litigation - recognition for excellence > More
Mental Health Accreditation
Mental health – recognition for excellence

This accreditation scheme covers the representation of patients in all proceedings before the first-tier tribunal.

Mental health – recognition for excellence > More
Excellence Awards 2019
Enter the Excellence Awards

Choose from 22 categories, including Excellence in Law Firm of the Year (small, medium and large). Nominate now for your chance to shine.

Enter the Excellence Awards > More
Execellence Awards 2019
Enter the Exellence Awards

Choose from 22 categories, including Excellence in Access to Justice. Nominate now for your chance to shine.

Enter the Exellence Awards > More
ExcellenceAwLogo
Enter the Excellence Awards

Choose from 22 categories, including team and individual awards and nominate before Friday 3 May for your chance to shine.

Enter the Excellence Awards > More