Legal professional privilege does not extend to accountants

by Kidd Rapinet on February 19, 2013

In an important decision, an attempt by the Prudential to have advice its accountants gave to clients to be covered by what’s called Legal Professional Privilege has failed in the highest court in the land. Legal Professional Privilege is the term given to describe the principle that communications between a lawyer and their client are covered by a right of absolute confidentiality and cannot be divulged to the courts or third parties.

Phil Hind, a solicitor in the Litigation Department at Kidd Rapinet’s Maidenhead office comments: “Prudential argued that as the advice was legal advice relating to a tax avoidance scheme it should be protected. The Court ultimately was having none of it. The implication is that the nature of the advice the accountants gave may now be revealed in Court, or scrutinised by the taxman.”

The Supreme Court has reiterated the principle that it is communications between qualified lawyers and their clients that are covered, and not communications between professional people other than lawyers, even where that advice is legal advice which that professional person is qualified to give. Phil Hind comments: “The message is clear, if you want legal discussions between you and your adviser, say, relating to tax liability, to be absolutely privileged, make sure the adviser is a qualified lawyer.”

If you would like to know more, call Phil Hind at Kidd Rapinet on 01628 621301 for further information.