If you are representing people charged with, or suspected of, serious crime, and in particular, in relation to suspected terrorism the interests of your clients may conflict with the interests of the public as a whole.

There are three provisions of the Terrorism Act 2000 (TA 2000) that penalise, with the threat of imprisonment, persons who fail to disclose varying degrees of knowledge, belief or suspicion of the commission by others of terrorist offences.

It is also an offence under section 39 of the TA 2000 to disclose information that could prejudice an investigation into terrorism, other than without reasonable excuse or in privileged circumstances.

This practice note explains the nature of your duty of confidentiality to a client, and how the anti-terrorism 'failure to disclose' offence provisions affect this duty.

This practice note is the Law Society’s view of good practice in this area, and is not legal advice. For more information see the legal status.