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Understanding Confidentiality and Privilege

Question from FRTUY, Understanding Confidentiality and Privilege

Answer from AI:

Confidentiality and privilege are foundational principles within the legal system, designed to protect the sanctity of the relationship between a professional and their client, most notably within the legal profession. Confidentiality refers to the obligation not to disclose information shared by a client, while privilege is a legal right that allows a client to prevent their lawyer from being compelled to testify about communications between them. The principle of legal professional privilege, for instance, is enshrined in the case of R v Derby Magistrates’ Court, ex parte B [1996] 1 AC 487, where it was held that the confidentiality of communications between a solicitor and their client must be maintained, unless overridden by a stronger public interest. This principle is crucial in ensuring that clients can speak freely and honestly with their legal representatives, without fear that their disclosures may later be used against them. However, the effectiveness and relevance of these principles are increasingly being questioned due to the growing number of exceptions, such as those for preventing criminal activity or disclosures in the public interest. These exceptions, while designed to serve greater societal goods, raise concerns about the erosion of client confidence and the potential chilling effect on the full and frank communication that is essential for effective legal representation. The balance between maintaining confidentiality and privilege and accommodating these exceptions is delicate and continues to evolve, reflecting changes in societal values and legal norms.

– R v Derby Magistrates’ Court, ex parte B [1996] 1 AC 487.

The Criminal Activity Exception

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