What can I tell my solicitor in confidence?
Solicitors owe a duty of confidence to their clients. However, there are exceptions to this rule, the most recent being the obligation on law firms to report clients whom they suspect of money-laundering.
If a solicitor has a suspicion that a client is attempting to launder money, he or she has a duty under the law to report them to the Metropolitan Police who have a Special Unit – the National Crime Investigation Service - dedicated to the task of tracking down money launderers.
The solicitor cannot tell the client that they have been reported - otherwise the solicitor will have committed an offence known as “tipping off” and will go to prison as a result.
Solicitors also can reveal confidential information that they believe is necessary to prevent a client or a third party committing a criminal act that they reasonably believe could result in serious bodily harm.
There are also circumstances involving children for example if a child who is a client reveals information which indicates continuing sexual or other physical abuse but refuses to allow disclosure of such information.
The solicitor may report to the appropriate authority if he or she thinks that the threat to the child’s life or health, both mental and physical, is sufficiently serious to justify breaching the duty of confidentiality.