When an individual instructs a solicitor, they may research and make various enquiries to establish which solicitor is best suited to their matter, seeking to find an expert in that field. Solicitors frequently instruct barristers (counsel) as part of their client’s legal team to provide advocacy and additional expertise. Solicitors often rely on advice from counsel when advising clients. Whilst a solicitor is entitled to rely on counsel’s advice, and the more specialist the nature of the advice the more reasonable reliance will be, in doing so they need to properly consider that advice rather than simply accepting the advice without further scrutiny.
Usually, the scope of duty of care between a solicitor and a client will be set out in writing in an engagement letter, but there are some circumstances in which a solicitor may assume duties to someone other than their client, which can create problems if that party is to suffer a loss. In those circumstances, a key question is whether a solicitor owes the third party a duty of care.
This quarterly contentious trust and probate litigation update provides a summary of a cross-section of reported decisions handed down in the courts of England and Wales in the period October 2020 - December 2020.