Legal Profession: Disclosure of Information

Ministry of Justice written question – answered on 25th June 2020.

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Photo of Zarah Sultana Zarah Sultana Labour, Coventry South

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what assessment his Department has made of the prevalence of use of non-disclosure agreements by legal professionals; and what steps his department is taking to help ensure that non-disclosure agreements are not misused.

Photo of Alex Chalk Alex Chalk Assistant Whip, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice

The legal profession in England and Wales is independent of Government and legal professionals are regulated by a number of regulators including the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) and the Bar Standards Board (BSB). Legal professionals must comply with a detailed Code of Conduct, which ensures that high standards of conduct are met.

The SRA has issued guidance via a warning notice to all regulated individuals and entities on the use of non-disclosure agreements (NDAs). The SRA warning notice confirms that they consider NDAs to be improperly used if they prevent a person from reporting misconduct, making a protected disclosure, reporting an offence or cooperating with criminal activity. The SRA has also been taking enforcement action against solicitors over the misuse of NDAs.

The Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy has published its response to views on consultation on confidentiality clauses. This proposes new legislation to further protect consumers in the provision of such legal services and deter rogue practice.

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