Telling Tales December 2018 

This month:

Compromising Independence

There is a vital priority for all professional advisers , especially lawyers, to stay detached from clients’ interests and effectively independent from them, so that nobody can later impugn the adviser, or the advice, for partiality or ethical misalignment. Traditionally it has been enough to satisfy most regulators and tribunals that the client’s interests are prioritised, and the firm’s interests are not preferred over those of the client. In these more censorious times however, that sort of approach will be seen as too narrow; too myopic in its vision and understanding of the scope of protective responsibilities. These days, any lawyer who allows the balance of their independence to tip too far in a client’s favour, especially if it is known or likely to be at someone else’s expense, risks disciplinary sanction. Just last month, solicitors acting honestly for a client whose business, unbeknown to them, was fraudulent, were sanctioned by the SDT for not “giving adequate consideration to the transaction from the perspective of the end user”, thereby allowing their independence to be compromised and exhibiting a lack of integrity

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