You are here:
  1. Home
  2. Support services
  3. Advice
  4. Practice notes
  5. Financial abuse

Financial abuse

13 June 2013
  • As a result of economic recession, social change and advances in technology the risk of financial abuse is increasing. Solicitors are well placed to identify possible or actual financial abuse in the context of particular retainers.
  • You have a responsibility to be aware of financial abuse and to understand your role in both preventing it and taking action to protect clients who have been financially abused.
  • Financial abuse covers a wide variety of activities from mishandling finances to fraud, but may broadly be described as a violation of an individual's rights relating to their financial affairs or assets.
  • Anyone can be a victim of financial abuse, but particular groups may be especially at risk. Age and specific disabilities may have an impact on the individual's capacity to make decisions which places them at increased risk of abuse.
  • People with learning disabilities or other conditions that have led to cognitive impairment, and in some instances, people who have poor mental health may also be particularly at risk.
  • This practice note is aimed to assist you in identifying and acting upon suspected or actual financial abuse in the course of your practice.
  • The SRA has published a Handbook, which sets out all the SRA's regulatory requirements. It outlines the ethical standards that the SRA expects of law firms and practitioners and the outcomes that the SRA expects them to achieve for their clients.
  • An overview of outcomes-focused regulation (OFR) can be found on the Law Society's website. This provides information on what the SRA Handbook contains, including a summary of the chapters in the Code of Conduct and a summary of the reporting requirements included throughout the Handbook.

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:

  • Chapter 1 on Client Care
  • Chapter 4 on Confidentiality and disclosure
  • Chapter 11 on Relations with third parties

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.

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
Related content

Recommended

Wills and Inheritance Scheme Accreditation
Wills and Inheritance Quality Scheme

This accreditation supports practitioners with best practice for wills and estate administration.

Wills and Inheritance Quality Scheme > More
Lexcel Accreditation
Lexcel

The Law Society's quality mark for any practice that can demonstrate excellence in legal practice management and client care.

Lexcel > More
Lexcel
Lexcel conference 2019

An unmissable day of topical conference sessions for Lexcel-accredited private practices and in-house legal departments.

Lexcel conference 2019 > More
calendar
Law Management Section annual conference 2019

Join Linda Moir, head of the London 2012 Olympic dream team and other experts for an unmissable day of topical conference sessions and interactive panel discussions, alongside valuable networking opportunities

Law Management Section annual conference 2019 > More
1
Sole practitioner of the Year: Rachel Roche's Story

Find out the challenges sole practitioners face in running their practice with Rachel Roche, Solicitor and Managing Director, Roche Legal and the benefits & challenges of introducing technology with Joshua Lenon, Lawyer in Residence, Clio

Sole practitioner of the Year: Rachel Roche's Story > More