Legal Privilege in UK Law

Leading Cases
  • Three Rivers District Council and Others v Governor and Company of the Bank of England (No 9)
    • House of Lords
    • 11 Nov 2004

    But the dicta to which I have referred all have in common the idea that it is necessary in our society, a society in which the restraining and controlling framework is built upon a belief in the rule of law, that communications between clients and lawyers, whereby the clients are hoping for the assistance of the lawyers' legal skills in the management of their (the clients') affairs, should be secure against the possibility of any scrutiny from others, whether the police, the executive, business competitors, inquisitive busy-bodies or anyone else (see also paras. 15.8 to 15.10 of Adrian Zuckerman's Civil Procedure where the author refers to the rationale underlying legal advice privilege as "the rule of law rationale").

    In cases of doubt the judge called upon to make the decision should ask whether the advice relates to the rights, liabilities, obligations or remedies of the client either under private law or under public law. If it does not, then, in my opinion, legal advice privilege would not apply. If it does so relate then, in my opinion, the judge should ask himself whether the communication falls within the policy underlying the justification for legal advice privilege in our law.

  • Balabel v Air India
    • Court of Appeal (Civil Division)
    • 16 Mar 1988

    Where information is passed by the solicitor or client to the other as part of the continuum aimed at keeping both informed so that advice may be sought and given as required, privilege will attach. Moreover, legal advice is not confined to telling the client the law; it must include advice as to what should prudently and sensibly be done in the relevant legal context.

  • R v Derby Magistrates' Court, ex parte B
    • House of Lords
    • 22 Jun 1995

    It is a fundamental condition on which the administration of justice as a whole rests. It is a fundamental condition on which the administration of justice as a whole rests. Legal professional privilege is thus much more than an ordinary rule of evidence, limited in its application to the facts of a particular case. Legal professional privilege is thus much more than an ordinary rule of evidence, limited in its application to the facts of a particular case.

  • Crompton (Alfred) Amusement Machines Ltd v Commissioners of Customs and Excise (No. 2)
    • Court of Appeal (Civil Division)
    • 17 Feb 1972

    At other times it is a Government department or a local authority.It may even be the Government itself, like the Treasury Solicitor and his staff. They are regarded by the law as in every respect in the same position as those who practise on their own account. The only difference is that they act for one client only, and not for several clients. They must uphold the same standards of honour and of etiquette. They are subject to the same duties to their client and to the Court.

  • R (Morgan Grenfell & Company Ltd) v Special Commissioner of Income Tax
    • House of Lords
    • 16 May 2002

    A necessary implication is one which necessarily follows from the express provisions of the statute construed in their context. It distinguishes between what it would have been sensible or reasonable for Parliament to have included or what Parliament would, if it had thought about it, probably have included and what it is clear that the express language of the statute shows that the statute must have included.

  • Ventouris v Mountain
    • Court of Appeal (Civil Division)
    • 08 Feb 1991

    The courts must not in any way encroach on the right of a litigant or potential litigant to seek and obtain legal advice on his prospects and the conduct of proceedings under the seal of confidence nor on the right of such a litigant and his legal adviser to prepare for and conduct his case without, directly or indirectly, revealing the effect of that advice.

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Books & Journal Articles
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Law Firm Commentaries
  • UK Case Re-examines Legal Privilege
    • JD Supra United Kingdom
    Downton Abbey… or the U.K. Supreme Court’s latest case on privilege law? One of these will come up sometime soon at a social event. “The public has the rig...
  • Legal Privilege and Covid-19 – Part I
    • LexBlog United Kingdom
    Part I discuses the concept of attorney-client privilege, work product doctrine and the legal position in the US and the UK. Legal privilege and attorney work product The legal privilege or attorne...
  • Legal Professional Privilege Post-Brexit
    • Mondaq UK
  • Legal advice privilege in employment
    • LexBlog United Kingdom
    A recent decision in the UK Court of Appeal has provided guidance in the area of privilege in employment claims. In Curless v Shell International Ltd, the Court of Appeal had to consider whether le...
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