News release

Guidance issued on client confidentiality

We have issued guidance on ensuring client confidentiality is maintained.

The guidance was published to deal with a number of issues including third parties having access to client information. We discovered this was particularly a problem for firms who used other professional services for business management purposes, such as financial advice.

Client permission may need to be sought before information is shared with third parties, and the guidance clarifies what should happen, as outlined in the Code of Conduct. 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 our 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.

Read the guidance

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