04 May Partner Mark Harper comments in The Times on the risks of conflicts of interest involved when one lawyer acts for both parties of a separating couple
That slogan immediately sounds alarm bells over conflicts of interest. If the divorce process can lead to one party tipping water over a lawyer’s head, how can a couple possibly share advisers? The City firm’s new model involves “a neutral facilitator/mediator” from the firm, who “guides the couple through the new process, but does not provide legal advice”. A separate set of the firm’s lawyers offers “legal input on distinct issues”, says the firm, emphasising that those lawyers work “within strictly defined roles”.
He warns that one party “may be being browbeaten into a so-called consensual approach. An experienced solicitor can guide a client through the different non-litigation options — counselling and therapy, mediation or arbitration — without risking a conflict of interest”.