SRA issues Confidentiality Guidance

SRA issues Confidentiality Guidance

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) have issued new guidance on ensuring client confidentiality is maintained.

The guidance, which was published at the end of January, deals specifically with a number of issues including third parties having access to client information – a growing problem for firms who use other professional services for business management purposes, such as financial advice.

The SRA point out in the guidance that client permission may be needed before information can be shared with third parties, and the guidance clarifies what should happen, as outlined in the Code of Conduct.

Firms are also reminded that the risk of breaching client confidentiality is also present in firms sharing information in complex corporate structures, firms seeking to merge or acquire another firm, and outsourcing.

David Middleton, SRA Executive Director, said:

“Law firms are businesses like any other and as such might use other companies to advise them on specialist matters. Firms must ensure that in doing so they do not breach client confidentiality or legal professional privilege.

“We have therefore produced this guidance to ensure firms remain compliant when engaging the services of third parties. This guidance is also relevant for those larger firms that contain several legal entities, some of which may be operating in separate legal jurisdictions.”

The guidance outlines the SRA’s expectations, the relevant Principles and Outcomes in the Code of Conduct, and case examples to show how issues might work in practice. The theme of using cloud computing is also revisited, outlining both the benefits and the risks attached.

The guidance can be found on the SRA web site at www.sra.org.uk/confidentiality/.

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