Court of Appeal: for Parliament, not courts, to extend legal professional privilege


Court of Appeal: fact that Parliament has not extended LPP is not a coincidence

The Court of Appeal has today unanimously confirmed that legal professional privilege (LPP) does not apply to any other professional except solicitors and barristers.

It follows a case in which the Law Society and Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales intervened on opposite sides, and the Law Society has welcomed the ruling as giving certainty to solicitors and their clients.

In Prudential PLC and Prudential (Gibraltar) Limited v Special Commissioner of Income Tax and Philip Pandolfo (HM Inspector of Taxes), Prudential had sought to extend LPP to advice on tax law given by accountants.

Prudential had argued that taxpayers often approach accountants rather than lawyers for advice on tax liabilities, which involves a consideration of, and advice about, the relevant law. They had argued that a client’s communications should be protected from disclosure if the advice is given by an accountant in the same way as it would be if given by a solicitor.

The appeal court rejected that proposition. Though it noted that tax legislation does make express provision in relation to tax accountants and to tax advisers with a limited equivalent of privilege, the Court of Appeal emphasised that extending LPP communications to other professionals, such as accountants, was a matter for Parliament and not for the courts.

The court said Parliament had considered the matter several times over the past 40 years and “that failure to change the law in this respect is not an accident”.

Law Society President Linda Lee says: “The Court of Appeal has stressed the need for a clear and certain application of LPP and pointed out that the present rules, when applied to members of the legal profession acting in a professional capacity, achieve that.

“The concept of LPP has been and remains closely tied to the administration of justice. The first duty of a solicitor, like other lawyers, is to the court and the second is to the client. In this respect lawyers are unique among the professions.”

Tags:




Leave a Comment

By clicking Submit you consent to Legal Futures storing your personal data and confirm you have read our Privacy Policy and section 5 of our Terms & Conditions which deals with user-generated content. All comments will be moderated before posting.

Required fields are marked *
Email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Blog

20 September 2018
Simon McCrum

Why don’t lawyers do what you ask them to do?

Having been team leader, department head, division head and managing partner, I understand well the frustration (and anger) that managing partners and CEOs voice to me: “We’ve asked them a dozen times, but still they aren’t doing what we need!”

Read More