Bar Council welcomes Supreme Court ruling on LPP

23 January 2013

The Bar Council, which represents barristers in England and Wales, has welcomed the 5:2 majority ruling of the Supreme Court against extending legal professional privilege (LPP) to non-lawyers, following a case put forward by financial services group, Prudential, requesting that LPP be extended to protect advice given by accountants.

The Bar Council intervened in the case, represented on a pro bono basis by Field Fisher Waterhouse, and instructed counsel, Bankim Thanki QC, Ben Valentine and Henry King.

The Bar Council argued that LPP should not be extended to cover advice given by anyone other than a qualified lawyer as it would act to undermine the necessary absolute confidentiality agreement between lawyers and clients, would create uncertainty around the established scope of LPP, and would constitute a significant inroad into the principle, necessary for the sound administration of justice, that relevant material should be placed before the court.

Maura McGowan QC, Chairman of the Bar, said:

"LPP is a fundamental right of clients and a principle which underpins the provision of legal services. We believe that extending it to non-lawyers would represent an unjustified departure from its long established limits.  

"The Supreme Court's ruling makes absolutely clear that the status quo, which works extremely well in practice, should remain.

"I am also grateful to the admirable representation provided by Field Fisher Waterhouse, Bankim Thanki QC, Ben Valentine and Henry King, all of whom acted on a pro bono basis."

 ENDS

Notes to editors:

 1. Further information is available from the  Bar Council Press Office on 020 7222 2525 or  Press@BarCouncil.org.uk .

2. For further information about the Supreme Court ruling, please visit their website.

3. The Bar Council represents barristers in England and Wales. It promotes:

• The Bar's high quality specialist advocacy and advisory services
• Fair access to justice for all
• The highest standards of ethics, equality and diversity across the profession, and
• The development of business opportunities for barristers at home and abroad.

The General Council of the Bar is the Approved Regulator of the Bar of England and Wales. It discharges its regulatory functions through the independent  Bar Standards Board.