The SRA Handbook is no longer in effect. It was replaced by the SRA Standards and Regulations on 25 November 2019.
Relations with third parties
Version 21 of the Handbook was published on 06/12/2018. For more information, please click 'History' Above
Chapter 11: Relations with third parties
This chapter is about ensuring you do not take unfair advantage of those you deal with and that you act in a manner which promotes the proper operation of the legal system.
This includes your conduct in relation to undertakings; there is no obligation to give or receive an undertaking on behalf of a client but, if you do, you must ensure that you achieve the outcomes listed in this chapter.
The conduct requirements in this area extend beyond professional and business matters. They apply in any circumstances in which you may use your professional title to advance your personal interests.
The outcomes in this chapter show how the Principles apply in the context of your relations with third parties.
You must achieve these outcomes:
you do not take unfair advantage of third parties in either your professional or personal capacity;
you perform all undertakings given by you within an agreed timescale or within a reasonable amount of time;
where you act for a seller of land, you inform all buyers immediately of the seller's intention to deal with more than one buyer;
you properly administer oaths, affirmations or declarations where you are authorised to do so.
Acting in the following way(s) may tend to show that you have achieved these outcomes and therefore complied with the Principles:
providing sufficient time and information to enable the costs in any matter to be agreed;
returning documents or money sent subject to an express condition if you are unable to comply with that condition;
returning documents or money on demand if they are sent on condition that they are held to the sender's order;
ensuring that you do not communicate with another party when you are aware that the other party has retained a lawyer in a matter, except:
maintaining an effective system which records when undertakings have been given and when they have been discharged;
where an undertaking is given which is dependent upon the happening of a future event and it becomes apparent the future event will not occur, notifying the recipient of this.
Acting in the following way(s) may tend to show that you have not achieved these outcomes and therefore not complied with the Principles:
taking unfair advantage of an opposing party's lack of legal knowledge where they have not instructed a lawyer;
demanding anything for yourself or on behalf of your client, that is not legally recoverable, such as when you are instructed to collect a simple debt, demanding from the debtor the cost of the letter of claim since it cannot be said at that stage that such a cost is legally recoverable;
using your professional status or qualification to take unfair advantage of another person in order to advance your personal interests;
taking unfair advantage of a public office held by you, or a member of your family, or a member of your firm or their family.
The outcomes in this chapter apply to your in-house practice.
This chapter should be read in conjunction with Chapter 7 (Management of your business) in relation to the system you will need to have in place to control undertakings.