23 Jan, 2013

The Bar Council, which represents barristers in England and Wales, has welcomed the 5:2 majority ruling of the Supreme Court against extending legal professional privilege (LPP) to non-lawyers, following a case put forward by financial services group, Prudential, requesting that LPP be extended to protect advice given by accountants.


The Bar Council intervened in the case, represented on a pro bono basis by Field Fisher Waterhouse, and instructed counsel, Bankim Thanki QC, Ben Valentine and Henry King.


The Bar Council argued that LPP should not be extended to cover advice given by anyone other than a qualified lawyer as it would act to undermine the necessary absolute confidentiality agreement between lawyers and clients, would create uncertainty around the established scope of LPP, and would constitute a significant inroad into the principle, necessary for the sound administration of justice, that relevant material should be placed before the court.


Maura McGowan QC, Chairman of the Bar (pictured), said: “LPP is a fundamental right and principle of clients which underpins the provision of legal services. We believe that extending it to non-lawyers would represent an unjustified departure from its long established limits. 


“The Supreme Court’s ruling makes absolutely clear that the status quo, which works extremely well in practice, should remain.


“I am also grateful to the admirable representation provided by Field Fisher Waterhouse, Bankim Thanki QC, Ben Valentine and Henry King, all of whom acted on a pro bono basis.”


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