Q&As

Legal advice given by an accountant is not privileged (R (Prudential plc) v Special Commissioner of Income Tax [2013] UKSC 1) but is legal advice given by a lawyer, which is then repeated by an accountant, privileged? In particular, if a document containing legal advice is given by an accountant to the client, is the legal advice privileged?

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Produced in partnership with Mark West of Lamb Chambers
Published on LexisPSL on 15/11/2017

The following Dispute Resolution Q&A produced in partnership with Mark West of Lamb Chambers provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Legal advice given by an accountant is not privileged (R (Prudential plc) v Special Commissioner of Income Tax [2013] UKSC 1) but is legal advice given by a lawyer, which is then repeated by an accountant, privileged? In particular, if a document containing legal advice is given by an accountant to the client, is the legal advice privileged?
  • Legal advice privilege
  • Loss or waiver of privilege

Legal advice given by an accountant is not privileged (R (Prudential plc) v Special Commissioner of Income Tax [2013] UKSC 1) but is legal advice given by a lawyer, which is then repeated by an accountant, privileged? In particular, if a document containing legal advice is given by an accountant to the client, is the legal advice privileged?

Legal advice privilege

Legal advice privilege protects from inspection:

  1. confidential

  2. communications

  3. between A (the client or internal agent) and B (the professional legal adviser or in-house lawyer)

  4. for the sole or dominant purpose of giving or obtaining

  5. legal advice or assistance on A’s rights and liabilities and what should prudently and sensibly be done in the relevant legal context

The case of Price Waterhouse (a firm) v BCCI Holdings (Luxembourg) SA provides authority for use of an intermediary. Justice Millett (as he then was) held [at 588]:

Legal professional privilege attaches to all communications made in confidence between a client and his legal adviser for the purpose of giving or obtaining legal advice. Litigation does not have to be in contemplation. It does not matter whether the communication is directly between the client and his legal adviser or is made through an intermediate agent of either.’

This was quoted in the House of Lords in Three Rivers District Council v Bank of England (No 6).

However, passing information on to another party

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