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Law Society Practice Note on Legal Professional Privilege


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This practice note seeks to:

  • clarify the status of legal professional privilege (LPP)
  • explore recent concerns about how the right has been asserted
  • summarise practitioners’ duties
  • clarify the main principles of LPP

LPP protects all communications between a solicitor or barrister and his or her clients from being revealed without the permission of the client.

LPP is one of the highest rights recognised by English law. It arises when clients approach lawyers for legal advice or for assistance with resolving contentious issues. LPP, which has existed for over 400 years, is treated under English law as a fundamental common law right and as a human right. It is a necessary corollary of the right of every person to seek legal advice and it plays a crucial role in ensuring the proper administration of our justice system. Accordingly, it is a precious right, vigorously protected by our judiciary and usually treated with the utmost respect by parliament when it legislates.

Despite the central position that LPP occupies in our justice system, the fact that it is a right can easily be overlooked. It is a right, not of lawyers or the legal profession, but of our clients – whether individuals or corporates. 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.

Source: Legal professional privilege – The Law Society

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Colin Yeo

Immigration and asylum barrister, blogger, writer and consultant at Garden Court Chambers in London and founder of the Free Movement immigration law website.