Legal Privilege

The right to proper legal advice is reflected in the principle of legal professional privilege, as it is known in common law countries. It is based on the principle of a client’s right of defence. In the common law countries, an added emphasis is placed on the fact that legal privilege contributes to the rule of law.

Like outside counsels, in-house counsels play an important and effective role in the development and maintenance of the rule of law. For that role to be effective however, the legal counsel must be independent. Due process, fair administration of justice and effective enforcement of rights can only be achieved if clients have access to a counsel who gives independent and honest advice without any bias towards themselves, the client, or a third party.

While the principle of protection of written communications between an outside lawyer and a client is generally accepted in Europe, its scope and the criteria for its application vary. Moreover, in-house lawyers do not enjoy legal privilege when dealing with EU institutions, according to the jurisprudence of the Court of Justice of the European Union.

Discussions about this subject, and more generally about the profession and status of company lawyers in Europe, are ongoing however, and legal privilege is an integral part of ECLA’s advocacy work. In 2014, ECLA presented its White Paper “Company Lawyers: Independent by Design”, that goes in depth into the concept of legal privilege and the independency of company lawyers.

Legal Privilege

France moves to protect confidentiality of in-house advice

To protect French companies from legal trouble abroad, the Macron government might now be ready to extend legal privilege to company lawyers

A judgment regarding legal privilege has been held in colorado
US court decision a warning for in-house lawyers

The ruling of a Colorado district court that reignited the discussion on whether or not attorney-client privilege applies to communications from in-house lawyers that contains both legal and strategic business advice.

Constitutional Court: Seizure of documents in German diesel emissions scandal were lawful

Germany Seizure of documents in diesel emissions scandal lawful, says Constitutional Court Following the unsuccessful…

A victory for legal privilege: Court of Appeal rules against SFO in ENRC case
24 September 2018 UK court ruling A victory for legal privilege: Court of Appeal rules…

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In-House Legal is the information portal of the European Association of Company Lawyers (ECLA) and provides news and background analysis on developments affecting the work of company lawyers across Europe.

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