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  6. What should I consider if a publicly funded client wishes to change solicitor?

What should I consider if a publicly funded client wishes to change solicitor?

I am acting in a criminal matter where the client is publicly funded and now wishes to change solicitor. What factors do I need to consider?

The retainer is a contractual relationship and subject to legal considerations.

In principle, a client can end the retainer with you at any time and for any reason.

However, when a client is a defendant in criminal proceedings, different practical considerations apply to the determination of the retainer and withdrawal depending on the source of client funding.

If the defendant is funded by legal aid, regulation 14 (change of provider) of the Criminal Legal Aid (Determinations by a Court and Choice of Representative) Regulations 2013 governs any application for a change of representation.

The court has the power to grant or refuse such an application.

The grounds for change are set out in regulation 14(3) and (4). You must provide details of either:

- the nature of the duty under the SRA Code of Conduct that you consider obliges you to withdraw from the case

- the particular circumstances that render you unable to represent the individual.

However, you must take legal professional privilege (LPP) into consideration as this may limit the information that you can give without your client's consent.

For more information, please see the Law Society’s Practice Note on Withdrawing from a Criminal Case.

Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information in this article, it does not constitute legal advice and cannot be relied upon as such. The Law Society does not accept any responsibility for liabilities arising as a result of reliance upon the information given.


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