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Should you advise on the commercial aspects of a transaction?

Solicitors may not have a duty to advise sophisticated clients about the 
commercial aspects of a transaction but the position is not so clear with 
less savvy ones, say Philip Murrin and Tom Pangbourne

14 January 2013

“A solicitor is not a general insurer against his client’s legal problems”, said Justice Laddie in Credit Lyonnais v Russell Jones & Walker [2002] EWHC 1310. “His duties are defined by the terms of the agreed retainer… He is under no obligation to expend time and effort on issues outside the retainer.”

Evidence of the late senior judge’s view can be found in the Chapter 1 retainer letter, which – assuming it has been properly and comprehensively drafted – will set out the nature and scope of the work the solicitor has agreed to carry out.

However, it is far from unusual for claimants to ask the court to find that the solicitor should have done, advised on or alerted the claimant to something incidental to the work they were carrying out. But the court has been hesitant to widen the scope of solicitors’ duties.

Commercial advice

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