Berkeley Lifford Hall Accountancy ServicesAlphabiolabsHousing Law Week

The Law Society publishes practice note on legal professional privilege

Practice note sets out practitioners’ duties and clarifies main principles

On 23 February 2017 the Law Society published a practice note on legal professional privilege ('LPP'). The practice note seeks to:

As the practice note explains, LPP protects all communications between a solicitor or barrister and his or her clients from being revealed without the permission of the client. It is a right, not of lawyers or the legal profession, but of their clients. Lawyers therefore have a duty to advise clients of the availability of this right and their entitlement to assert it. Also overlooked, on occasion, are the English legal authorities which state in clear terms that no adverse inference may be drawn from a valid assertion of LPP.

The purpose of this guidance is not only to remind practitioners of the unique right that LPP confers on clients when they approach lawyers for legal advice and assistance, but also of the corresponding responsibility that is placed on legal professionals to ensure that LPP is only asserted on behalf of their clients where there are proper grounds for doing so.

The status of LPP is explored within the practice note. It is a fundamental common law and human right enjoyed by clients and not lawyers and it underpins the administration of justice. The Law Society considers that any form of pressure to waive LPP or to conduct one's affairs so that LPP does not arise is improper.

The practice note explains that concern about how LPP has been asserted has come from regulatory bodies and investigatory agencies, which believe their investigations can sometimes be frustrated by inappropriate claims to LPP. This concern may be based on a failure to appreciate practitioners' duties in relation to LPP.

For the practice note, click here.