Privilege, money laundering and terrorist financing
Privilege, money laundering and terrorist financing

The following Practice Compliance guidance note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Privilege, money laundering and terrorist financing
  • Duty of confidentiality
  • Privilege and disclosure
  • Legal professional privilege
  • Privileged circumstances
  • Privileged circumstances v legal professional privilege
  • When to disclose
  • National Risk Assessment and the SRA’s view
  • Privilege, privileged circumstances and alternative business structures

Privilege is a vital consideration when deciding whether to make a suspicious activity report (SAR) to the National Crime Agency (NCA) under the relevant provisions of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (POCA 2002) and the Terrorism Act 2000 (TA 2000).

There are three essential issues:

  1. whether making a suspicious activity report to the NCA will breach client confidentiality

  2. whether it will breach the client's right to legal professional privilege (LPP), and

  3. whether the privileged circumstances defence applies to a potential money laundering offence

This is a hugely complex area of law. This Practice Note explains privilege as it applies to the AML and CTF regime only. Wider privilege issues are not covered here. You'll find more general information on LPP in our subtopic: Client privilege.

Duty of confidentiality

You are under a strict professional and legal duty to keep your clients' affairs confidential. Protecting your client's confidential information is a fundamental feature of your duty to your client. The duty continues beyond the end of the retainer and the client's death. The circumstances in which you are able to disclose client information to any third party, including NCA, are limited.

Your duty of confidentiality is different from the concept of LPP, which is explained below.

Your duty of confidentiality can only be overridden where disclosure is required or otherwise permitted by law or