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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 48509
Experience:  Qualified Employment Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
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A solicitor has been having an affair with a former secretary.

Customer Question

A solicitor has been having an affair with a former secretary. She has also been having an affair with her current employer. He has discovered the affair and terminated her contract. The solicitor has dealt with the termination of contract despite being involved.
Is there a conflict of interest?
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Employment Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 3 years ago.

Ben Jones :

Hello, my name is Ben and it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today. In what way did the solicitor deal with this exactly?

JACUSTOMER-97xgnkpd- :

He acted for her with her Compromise Agreement after her employment was terminated. Should this have been dealt with by one of his partners in the firm or by another firm? As he was personally involved in the reason she lost her job.

Ben Jones :

For the settlement agreement to be legally valid, the person must have received independent legal advice to advise them on the terms of said agreement. To ensure that the advice given is truly independent, the adviser must not be:

  • The respondent (or potential respondent).
  • Employed by the respondent (or potential respondent) or its associated employers.
  • Acting for the respondent (or potential respondent) or its associated employers.

So in terms of the legality of the agreement, the current situation would not affect it as having an affair with someone would not be covered by the above requirements.

We then move on to the Solicitors’ Code of Conduct, which deals with the general requirements for solicitors when acting for someone. There is a whole chapter on conflict of interest which is there to ensure solicitors do not act when there is a conflict of interest:

http://www.sra.org.uk/solicitors/handbook/code/part2/rule3/content.page

In general a conflict of interest is defined as “if the duty to act in the best interests of any client in relation to a matter conflicts, or there is a significant risk that it may conflict, with your own interests in relation to that or a related matter”.

The Code then goes on to say that solicitors should try to achieve the following “your systems and controls for identifying own interest conflicts … enable you to assess all the relevant circumstances, including whether your ability as an individual, or that of anyone within your firm, to act in the best interests of the client(s), is impaired by:….personal relationships”

However, it would always depend on the facts of the matter, it is still possible to be in a relationship with someone or to have been in one in the past and act for them as long as in doing so the solicitor has acted professionally and impartially and in the best interests of their client. It would therefore depend entirely on what advice was given and whether there is any evidence that it was affected by the relationship they had in the past. If there is no evidence that the advice was affected in any way, it would not necessarily have been illegal for the solicitor to have acted for this person.

Ben Jones :

Please let me know if this has answered your original question or if you need me to clarify anything else for you in relation to this? Thanks

Expert:  Ben Jones replied 3 years ago.
Hello, I see you have accessed and read my answer to your query. Please let me know if this has answered your original question or if you need me to clarify anything else for you in relation to this?
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 3 years ago.
Hello Jan, please let me know if I have answered your original question or if you need me to clarify anything else for you in relation to this? Thank you