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Bar Council: Surveillance Bill still a threat to client’s right to legal privilege

Bar Council

2 min read Partner content

The Bar Council comment on the the Government amendments to the Investigatory Powers Bill, ahead of today's debate in the House of Commons.

The client’s right to legal privilege looks permanently to be compromised, the Bar Council has said, though not as severely as was first feared.

Government amendments to the Investigatory Powers Bill, to be debated in the Commons today, mark the culmination of over a year’s work by the Bar Council’s Surveillance and Privacy Working Group, chaired by Peter Carter QC.

Chairman of the Bar, Chantal-Aimée Doerries QC said: “The Minister and the Bill team listened carefully to the concerns expressed by the Bar Council and others, but Government amendments to the Bill do not, in our view, go far enough to maintain the client’s right to privilege.

“It is, however, fair to say that compared with the Bill’s original provisions, the amendments do provide some protection and, following our representations, those protections are at least now on the face of the Bill.”

“There is still too much scope for a client’s privileged communications deliberately to be targeted and intercepted, and we remain concerned that this fundamental constitutional right has now been diminished. The Bar Council will continue to work with other legal professional bodies to press for proper protection of privileged communications.

“Thanks must go to Peter Carter QC, chair of the Surveillance and Privacy Working Group who gave evidence to the Joint Committee last year, and to Gordon Nardell QC for work on drafting amendments.

Baroness Hamwee praised the Bar Council yesterday in the House of Lords for its advocacy “on behalf not of lawyers but their clients.” She described the Bar Council’s representations as “invaluable in this process.”

The Bill will be debated in the Commons today as MPs consider amendments to the Investigatory Powers Bill which were agreed yesterday in the Lords.


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