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Can one lawyer help two clients?

Date:26 FEB 2016

This article arises from the author's role at the Resolution debate in October 2015 in proposing the motion, 'this house believes there should be no barrier to one lawyer representing both parties in family cases'. It argues that with screening as used in mediation for undue influence or hostility, and with informed consent that one lawyer should be able to help both parties, particularly separating parents.

In the newly diverse market for divorce services those with resources can choose from an exciting range, but the former legally aided population post LASPO has urgent need for information, advice and support. Pre LASPO  solicitors could provide all three with public funding. There is now urgent need to  add to the only surviving publicly funded service provided by mediators who are not able to give advice or support outside the sessions even when they are practising solicitors.

Legal advice is not a reserved activity, and helping two clients is not forbidden by the 2011 SRA Handbook Code of Conduct where the parties have given informed consent and the solicitor is satisfied that it is in their interest for this to happen.

It is essential to develop more cost effective ways of helping parents through separation to a fair a informed settlement.

The full version of this article appears in the February 2016 issue of Family Law.

Online subscribers can access the full version of the article here.

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