In Re A Firm of Solicitors: ChD 9 May 1995

A solicitor moving from a firm acting on one side of a dispute to the firm on the other side must be able to show that no conflict of interest would arise. The court should intervene unless it is satisfied that there is no risk of disclosure. It goes without saying that the risk must be a real one, and not merely fanciful or theoretical. But it need not be substantial. Lightman J stated that in a ‘previous relationship’ case, in the ordinary course a court will grant an injunction restraining the solicitor acting.
Lightman J said: ‘The law regulating the freedom of a solicitor who, or whose firm, has at one time acted for a client subsequently to act against that client reflects the need to balance two public interests. First there is the interest in the entitlement of that client to the fullest confidence in the solicitor whom he instructs and for this purpose that there shall be no risk or perception of a risk that confidential information relating to the client or his affairs acquired by the solicitor will be disclosed to anyone else . . Second there is the interest in the freedom of the solicitor to obtain instructions from any member of the public, and of all members of the public to instruct such solicitor, in all cases where there is no real need for constraint; there must be good and sufficient reason to deprive the client of the solicitor or the solicitor of the client of his choice.’


Lightman J


Times 09-May-1995, Independent 16-May-1995, [1997] Ch 1, [1995] 3 All ER 482


CitedGoddard v Nationwide Building Society CA 1986
A solicitor had acted for both purchaser and lender in a purchase transaction. The purchaser later sought to recover from the defendant for a negligent valuation. The solicitor had however discussed the issue with the plaintiff before the purchase, . .

Cited by:

CitedPrince Jefri Bolkiah v KPMG (A Firm) HL 16-Dec-1998
Conflicts of Duty with former Client
The House was asked as to the duties of the respondent accountants (KPMG). KPMG had information confidential to a former client, the appellant, which might be relevant to instructions which they then accepted from the Brunei Investment Agency, of . .
CitedRTZ Pension Property Trust Ltd v ARC Property Developments Ltd and Asfa Limited CA 26-Nov-1998
Where a plaintiff discontinued his action, but still sought costs from the defendant, he had to show some misconduct by the defendant, such as encouraging the action by concealment of a defence. A mere late amendment causing no loss was not . .
CitedDavies v Davies CA 4-Mar-1999
The marriage was unhappy. The wife consulted briefly but did not instruct a solicitor, Mr Tooth. Some 7 years later as divorce proceedings were considered, the husband did instruct Mr Tooth. She sought to prevent him acting, but then wanted to . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Legal Professions

Updated: 08 April 2022; Ref: scu.81675