Writing to a client in prison

I am a trainee solicitor working in the criminal department of my firm. I need to write to my client, who is presently on remand in Wormwood Scrubs. How can I be sure my letters reach him without being opened?

A solicitor’s letter should not be opened and read by the prison authorities if it is posted inside a double envelope. The outer envelope should be addressed as normal to your client; the inner unstamped envelope should be marked clearly ‘Prison Rule 39’ (or YOI (Young Offender's Institute Rule 17 if addressed to a young offender). The inner envelope should also be marked with the client’s name and prison number, if known, address and telephone number of the solicitor’s office; a reference number, if possible and the signature of the solicitor.

Mail clearly marked in this way will be regarded as legally privileged and passed to your client unopened unless a governor suspects that it is not actually privileged.

For further information see the Law Society's publication Criminal Defence, Good Practice in the Criminal Courts (4th edition) which is available to purchase from the Law Society’s on-line bookshop.


While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information in this article, it does not constitute legal advice and cannot be relied upon as such. The Law Society does not accept any responsibility for liabilities arising as a result of reliance upon the information given.

Have you got a practice question? Call the Practice Advice Service on 020 7320 5675 or email practiceadvice@lawsociety.org.uk

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