Legal professional privilege and Law Officers' convention in relation to the Freedom of Information Act 2000
Produced in partnership with Chris Alderson of Hempsons
Legal professional privilege and Law Officers' convention in relation to the Freedom of Information Act 2000

The following Public Law practice note produced in partnership with Chris Alderson of Hempsons provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Legal professional privilege and Law Officers' convention in relation to the Freedom of Information Act 2000
  • Legal professional privilege
  • Public interest balancing test
  • Loss of privilege
  • Provision of advice by Law Officers
  • Legal professional privilege and the Environmental Information Regulations 2004
  • Risk assessment

The Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FIA 2000) confers a general right of public access to information that is held by public authorities which requires a public authority to confirm whether or not the information requested is held, and if it is held, to provide that information.

This right of access to information is not unfettered, and a number of exemptions are contained within FIA 2000, which reflect the various areas where the release of information could be damaging to the proper operation of the public sector.

Legal professional privilege

Legal professional privilege is a rule of law protecting communications linked with the obtaining of legal advice. There are two classes of legal professional privilege—legal advice privilege and litigation privilege.

Legal advice privilege applies to communications between a client and their lawyer which form part of the process of giving legal advice. This privilege applies irrespective of whether there are any actual or contemplated court proceedings.

In contrast, litigation privilege only arises when there is actual or reasonably contemplated litigation, and extends beyond communications between the lawyer and client to include communications with third parties in gathering of evidence for use in the actual or contemplated litigation.

Under FIA 2000, s 42, information under legal professional privilege is categorised as exempt information for the purposes of the Act and the duty to confirm or deny does not arise if disclosure

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