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Guardians of Legal Professional Privilege

February 28, 2017

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A new practice note on Legal Professional Privilege (LPP) that offers solicitors the latest guidance on this fundamental legal principle was today released by the Law Society.

LPP protects communications between solicitors and their clients from disclosure, and is a cornerstone of the trusting relationship people expect when they share personal or commercial matters with a lawyer.

"LPP is vital to a well-functioning justice system," said Law Society president Robert Bourns.

"It gives clients the right to control how the information they reveal to their solicitor is used, and gives them the confidence to share the most intimate details of their personal and professional lives."

While LPP is vigorously protected by the courts and reflected in a range of legal provisions, recent proposals designed to combat crime, increase consumer choice or improve regulation have threatened to undermine these protections.

"This growing trend to see LPP as something of an 'inconvenience' to be surrendered is a critical threat to the ability of clients to work openly and honestly with their solicitor, which is why the Law Society has responded so firmly in each case," said Robert Bourns.

"While we have had considerable success working with government to find ways to meet its public policy objectives while protecting LPP, such as with amendments to the Investigatory Powers Bill, we cannot do this alone.

"The whole solicitor profession must make sure it understands LPP, that clients understand LPP and the rights it gives them. Solicitors must uphold it in their work and be beyond reproach in their application of it if the justice system is to function properly. Solicitors' stewardship of LPP is intrinsic to the integrity and administration of justice.

"This practice note provides solicitors with comprehensive guidance on how LPP operates, to help them do just that."

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