A move by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) to limit the role of legal advisers to witnesses in fraud investigations has prompted the Law Society to publish guidance for solicitors.
Section 2 Criminal Justice Act 1987 interviews take place during the course of a SFO probe. Any person with relevant information can be compelled ‘to answer questions or furnish information in relation to a fraud investigation.
The SFO guidance seeks to limit the actions that can be taken by a solicitor when acting for someone interviewed under section 2. It also suggests a series of undertakings that will be sought by the SFO from the lawyer in advance of attending an interview.
All solicitors must act in their client’s best interest. The Law Society practice note reminds lawyers they do not have to accept unnecessary and inappropriate restrictions on their ability to represent clients.
The Law Society has prepared a practice note for solicitors who represent witnesses in such situations.