Legal Professional Privilege

  • February 07, 2013
  • By Hunters Law

The Supreme Court has ruled against the extension of the availability of Legal Professional Privilege (LPP) beyond members of the legal profession.

In the recent case of Prudential plc and Prudential (Gibraltar) Limited –v- Special Commissioner of Income Tax and Philip Pandolfo (HM Inspector of Taxes) [2013] UKSC 1, Prudential argued that they could not be compelled to disclose their communications because they were covered by LPP.

LPP entitles a party to withhold evidence from production to the Court or a third party in certain situations. LPP covers confidential communications between lawyers and their clients (made for the dominant purpose of seeking or giving legal advice) or communications which come into existence for the dominant purpose of being used in connection with actual or pending litigation.

The Supreme Court however refused to extend the scope of LPP to cover advice given by accountants on tax matters. The decision reinforces the existing position that only advice provided by members of the legal profession is protected by LPP where the subject matter of that advice is unconnected with litigation.

The Court was of the view that an extension of the availability of LPP was a matter for Parliament and not for the Court. It remains to be seen whether Parliament will address the issue.

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