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House of Lords: Cross party support for client right to legal privilege

Bar Council

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The Bar Council and the Law Society have secured cross party support for amendments to the Investigatory Powers Bill to protect the client’s right to legal privilege, in Grand Committee on Monday.


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, will be debated in Grand Committee in the Lords today, tabled by a cross bencher and 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.”

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