What is legal professional privilege?

By | July 3rd, 2020|

Earlier this year Channel 9 ran a miniseries about notorious Lawyer X, a solicitor and Police informant who passed confidential information on to the Police received in the course of acting for her clients.  This sounds like an “Underbelly” dramatic plot line doesn’t it?

Unfortunately it appears that it was all true.  The actions of Lawyer X in divulging her client’s confidential information to the Police have resulted in the Government instigating a Royal Commission into the management of Police informants.  Commissioner Margaret McMurdo is expected to deliver her final report on 1 July 2020.

Legal professional privilege is not treated lightly by legal practitioners or the Court.  The duty protects confidential communication and documents between a lawyer and their client.  Privilege can be waived in two ways.  One, expressly, “if you waive your privilege so that it benefits your case” and two, implied, “when a privilege holding party acts in a manner that is not consistent with the privilege”.  This is protected by our conduct rules and case law.

While the privacy provisions contained within the Family Law Act probably means a family law client will not end up in their own miniseries, privilege is an important protection for a client.

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