How Important Is Lawyer Client Confidentiality?

2270 Words10 Pages
The importance of ethical and professional responsibility is something that lawyers have long insisted is a distinctive feature of their profession. A particularly perennial aspect of this is the principle of lawyer client confidentiality or legal professional privilege. The privilege backdates at its earliest recording to case law from 1577 in the case of Berd v Lovelace[1]. The principle also originates from the ‘’oath and honour’’[2] of the lawyer which is centred around a contractual relationship. Legal professional privilege works in common law jurisdictions to ‘’protect all communications between a professional legal advisor and his or her clients from being disclosed without the permission of the client’’[3] this privilege extends beyond the lifetime of the client. The purpose of this principle is to provide sufficient access to justice for the individual by encouraging complete disclosure of any relevant information to the legal professional without any fear from the client that this information will at a later date cause him any prejudice as a result of disclosure to any third parties. The lawyer will in turn be able to give the client the most appropriate advice with public confidence in lawyers being maintained. This is the privilege of the client and not the lawyer. (For the purpose of this essay I am taking the term lawyer to include solicitors, barristers and other legal professionals). It is argued that legal advice would dramatically suffer if this privilege was withdrawn as clients would be very reluctant to make full disclosure to their legal representatives, Lord Brougham demonstrated this in Greenough v Gaskell (1833)[4]. In both England and Wales Legal professional privilege is a single doctrine that separates into two branches: legal advice privilege and litigation privilege. Together they make for a very important principle within legal
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