Lords call on Government to protect clients' right to legal privilege

11 July 2016

HOUSE OF LORDS: CROSS PARTY SUPPORT FOR

CLIENT RIGHT TO LEGAL PRIVILEGE

A cross party group of Peers is today calling on the Government to amend its surveillance bill in order to protect the client's legal right to communicate with a lawyer in confidence.

Amendments to the Investigatory Powers Bill, tabled by cross bencher and Blackstone Chambers barrister, Lord Pannick, will be debated in Grand Committee in the Lords today, supported by Peers on the Labour, Liberal Democrat and Conservative benches.

Chairman of the Bar Chantal-Aimée Doerries QC said:"The right of the citizen to speak in safety with their legal representative is vital to a fair trial. Unless people feel confident that their lawyer will not disclose the content of their communications, they will not speak honestly openly and may fail to communicate information that is vital to their case.

"The law already states that where clients abuse the relationship with their lawyer to commit further offences, their communications are not protected by legal privilege. We do not, therefore, need the authority to target legally privileged communications for surveillance.  Passing the Bill in its current form would mean that clients could no longer be guaranteed confidentiality by their lawyers.

"We welcome efforts made by Government, and parliamentarians on all sides of the House to address concerns that have been raised by the Bar Council and others, and we will continue to work collaboratively to help protect this fundamental constitutional right."

ENDS

Notes to Editors 

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

  2. 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