Law Society calls for statutory protection for legal professional privilege
The Law Society has again called for explicit statutory protection for legal professional privilege (LPP) in its evidence to the Draft Investigatory Powers Bill Joint Committee.
Legal professional privilege is a vital part of the administration of justice. It protects a client's fundamental right to be candid with their legal adviser without fear that someone is listening in or can gain access at some future date to what has been said.
On Monday, Colin Passmore, senior partner at Simmons and Simmons and author of Privilege, gave oral evidence as the Law Society's expert witness. He reiterated the Law Society's concerns about the failure to propose statutory protection for LPP in the draft bill, as the Society has called for, most recently in an earlier joint statement with the Bar Council.
Key points in oral evidence:
- LPP is a vital principle of the administration of justice. It is a cornerstone of society governed by the rule of law that people can consult a legal adviser in absolute confidence.
- In every single statute that confers investigatory powers there is always a provision that actively protects legal privilege. This bill is unique in that there is nothing in it that protects legal privilege.
- The Law Society calls for express protection for LPP from the activities of public authorities seeking to use investigatory powers, this should include all forms of investigatory powers, including the acquisition of communications data.
- The Society also calls for provisions that ensure that the deliberate targeting of legally privileged communications, material, information and data is unlawful.
The Society will shortly be submitting its consultation response on the Draft Investigatory Powers Bill, detailing further its concerns.