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Government changes boost protection for legal privilege

31 October 2016

Further amendments made to the Investigatory Powers Bill today will help to protect legally privileged communications from being inappropriately accessed, the Law Society said today.

The changes, following advocacy from the Law Society and others, give greater protection to legally privileged material accidentally caught in a legitimate search, ensuring its retention is subject to a public interest test.

'Legal professional privilege is at the heart of the solicitor-client relationship, as it gives our clients the assurance that they can discuss in confidence the most intimate details of their private and professional lives,' said Law Society president Robert Bourns.

'Anything which undermines this trust is a serious concern, which is why we are pleased the government has agreed to sensible changes to the bill to strengthen protections.'

The safeguards were included in amendments incorporated during the third reading of the bill in the House of Lords this afternoon.

'While these protections are not as comprehensive as the legal community felt was appropriate, the government's response is still a significant improvement from where the bill started,' said Robert Bourns

'With the number of moves to weaken the protection of legal professional privilege we have seen this year - both inadvertent and deliberate - the Law Society will remain vigilant to ensure that this core principle of our justice system is maintained.'

Notes to editors

The specific amendments are to clause 56 of the Bill, and were contained in amendments put forward by Earl Howe. These are available from the Parliament website.

About the Law Society

The Law Society is the independent professional body that works globally to support and represent solicitors, promoting the highest professional standards, the public interest and the rule of law.

Press office contact: Oliver Searle | +44 (0) 207 316 5624