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Lawyer-client confidentiality must be protected by judicial oversight

25 March 2015 | tagged News release

Communications between lawyers and their clients must not be intercepted except in exceptional circumstances and under warrant authorised by a court of law, the Law Society of Scotland said today, 25 March. 

The Law Society was responding to the Home Office consultation on an updated draft code of practice for the interception of communications, in particular to the protections afforded to the communications between lawyers and their clients.  Currently, the Secretary of State can issue a warrant to intercept such communications in exceptional circumstances, without seeking authorisation from the courts.  

Alistair Morris, President of the Law Society said: “Lawyer-client confidentiality is a legal principle which has been recognised for over 400 years.  A client must have complete faith in their lawyer and have confidence that whatever they disclose will remain confidential.  Anything less would undermine the rule of law and our justice system.  

“We welcome this updated code of practice and enhanced safeguards, which we hope will ensure that the principle of legal privilege remains protected.   However, it is unacceptable that a breach of this privilege can be made by the Secretary of State without recourse to the courts.  This fundamental right must be protected by judicial oversight, and as such the Secretary of State, or indeed relevant Scottish Minister, should be required to obtain the appropriate authorisation from a court of law before issuing a warrant to intercept.” 

ENDS

Notes to editors

Our full consultation response can be found on our website

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION: Please contact Valerie McEwan Valeriemcewan@lawscot.org.uk 0131 226 8884 or Louise Docherty on 0131 476 8204 Email:  louisedocherty@lawscot.org.uk

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