The Law Society has welcomed recommendations in the House of Lords and House of Commons Joint Committee on the Draft Investigatory Powers Bill report published today, Thursday, 11 February.
Christine McLintock, president of the Law Society of Scotland, said: “We are very pleased to see in today’s report that the concerns we raised about legal professional privilege have been recognised by the UK Parliament’s Joint Committee on the Draft Investigatory Powers Bill and we welcome the committee’s recommendation that it should be expressly protected in primary legislation.
“Ensuring our security as a nation and as individuals is vital, however legal professional privilege is key to the rule of law and is essential to the administration of justice. It ensures that a lawyer and client can exchange information without fear of it becoming known to a third party, without the clear permission of the client – unless of course the communications have any criminal purpose in which case the protection does not apply under existing powers.
“In our response to the Joint Select Committee call for written evidence recently, we emphasised our view that legal professional privilege should be expressly protected within proposed legislation rather than through a code of practice, as had been included in the draft bill in an attempt to mitigate against any possible abuse of the powers where ‘sensitive professions’, including lawyers, are concerned.
“All other legislation which relates to investigatory powers expressly provides for legal professional privilege and we fully support the joint committee’s view that it should be included in the face of the bill.
“We look forward to engaging with the UK Government, as has also been recommended in the report, at the next stage of the bill’s progress.”
The joint committee has made 86 recommendations to help ensure that any new bill to be taken forward is workable and includes proper safeguards.
Note to editors
The Law Society of Scotland’s written evidence is available to read on the website.
The Joint Committee report can be read on the UK Parliament website.