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Law Society urges protection for privilege in investigatory powers legislation

The Law Society has repeated its call for explicit statutory protection for legal professional privilege (LPP) to be included in the Draft Investigatory Powers Bill.

In evidence to the joint committee considering the Bill, Chancery Lane’s expert witness, Colin Passmore, said:

  • LPP was a vital principle of the administration of justice. It was "a cornerstone of society governed by the rule of law that people can consult a legal adviser in absolute confidence".
  • In every single statute that conferred investigatory powers there was always a provision that actively protected legal privilege. The Bill under consideration was unique in that there was nothing in it that protected legal privilege.
  • Protection for LPP – from the activities of public authorities seeking to use investigatory powers – should include all forms of investigatory powers, including the acquisition of communications data.
  • There should be provisions that ensure that the deliberate targeting of legally privileged communications, material, information and data is unlawful.

Passmore is senior partner of City law firm Simmons & Simmons and author of Privilege.

The Law Society is to submit shortly its consultation response on the Bill, detailing further its concerns.

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Chancery Lane said: “Legal professional privilege is a vital part of the administration of justice. It protects a client's fundamental right to be candid with their legal adviser without fear that someone is listening in or can gain access at some future date to what has been said.”

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