Yesterday, I forwarded a formal complaint against Hill Dickinson and the solicitor who wrote to me with the English Solicitors Regulation Authority and provided them with the relevant evidence, etc.


Conduct in disputes

Published: 4 March 2022


This guidance is to help you understand your obligations and how to comply with them. We will have regard to it when exercising our regulatory functions.

Who is this guidance for?

All firms and individuals we regulate who conduct litigation and who give dispute resolution and pre-action advice.

Purpose of this guidance

To help you understand the application of our Principles and Codes of Conduct to these activities. As well as to highlight the different duties that you may owe to the court, to clients and to third parties (such as witnesses and opponents) in litigation. We describe situations in which these duties are not properly balanced to help illustrate how these can arise in practice and the serious consequences that can follow.

There will be situations where maintaining the correct balance between these different duties is not a simple exercise. This guidance is designed to help you identify the right course of action in such situations.

Features of these cases may include:

We are aware of concerns surrounding Strategic Lawsuits against Public Participation (SLAPP). This is a term commonly used to describe the misuse of the legal system, and the bringing or threatening of proceedings, in order to discourage public criticism or action. For example, cases in which the underlying intention is to stifle the reporting or the investigation of serious concerns of corruption or money laundering by using improper and abusive litigation tactics.

Features of these cases may include

  • making excessive or meritless claims, aggressive and intimidating threats
  • otherwise acting in a way which fails to meet the wider public interest principles
  • duties to which solicitors must have regard, and which are highlighted in this guidance.  

To help ensure compliance, you should always be vigilant in scrutinising your own and others’ conduct in disputes you are involved in. The behaviours described this guidance can be evidence of misconduct capable of amounting to a serious breach of our regulatory arrangements, and can inform your duty to report. This will help us to consider whether a serious breach of our regulatory arrangements has occurred. Read see our guidance on reporting and notification obligations.

Our Principles

Our Principles state that solicitors should always act:

Principle 1: in a way that upholds the constitutional principle of the rule of law and the proper administration of justice

Principle 2: in a way that upholds public trust and confidence in the solicitors’ profession and in legal services provided by authorised persons

Principle 3: with independence

Principle 4: with honesty

Principle 5: with integrity

Principle 7: in the best interests of each client

Should the Principles come into conflict, those which safeguard the wider public interest take precedence over an individual client’s interests. These include the rule of law and public confidence in a trustworthy solicitors’ profession and a safe and effective market for regulated legal services.

You should, where relevant, inform your client of the circumstances in which your duty to the court and other professional obligations will outweigh your duty to them. For example, you must not allow a client to knowingly mislead the court in order to further their case.

Independence (Principle 3) clearly includes independence from the client. This has also been explained by the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT):

A Solicitor is independent of his client and having regard to his wider responsibilities and the need to maintain the profession’s reputation, [they] must and should on occasion be prepared to say to [their] client ‘What you seek to do may be legbut I am not prepared to help you to do it” (In the matter of Paul Francis Simms, SDT, 2002).


Not so long ago, many “professionals” felt they were answerable to no one.

This very much included medics and lawyers – and even the clergy.

But as time has gone on, modern democratic processes and the increased emphasis on human rights means we can now challenge our former unchallengable masters.

I’m pleased there is a Solicitors Regulation Authority.

I’m also pleased they are investigating SLAPP – that strategy used by unscrupulous lawyers, not to get justice for their clients, but to scare people away from making wrongdoing and corruption public.

SLAPP is the use of legal procedures – letters, summons, etc to scare people away from telling the truth about your client or putting the truth in the public domain.

It is an unprincipled and disgraceful strategy condemned by the SRA and all good lawyers.