Legal Professional Privilege Law and Legal Definition

Legal professional privilege is a set of rules of evidence that protects the disclosure of communications between attorney and his/her client. It extends to all communications between the client and his/her legal adviser for the purposes of obtaining advice. It allows a party to litigation to withhold disclosure to third parties, of certain categories of documents which are relevant to a dispute. Legal professional privilege protects the sanctity of the lawyer-client relationship. It makes the clients to fully disclose details of their affairs to their lawyers, without fear that that information will be used against them in subsequent litigation.

However, the legal professional privilege is not absolute because in some jurisdictions the client has the power to waive it. Furthermore, in some other jurisdictions the attorney must report certain crimes such as the proposed harm to a child or even to any another person, or facts as they relate to terrorism or money-laundering, which are brought to their attention during the course of client-solicitor consultations. However, in order for legal professional privilege to be maintained, the information must remain confidential and not to have been previously disclosed to third parties.

Legal professional privilege applies in civil proceedings, criminal proceedings and with respect to a demand against any third party, including the Director of Public Prosecutions, Criminal Prosecution Service and police. It is therefore a substantive legal right and not merely a rule of evidence that is subsisted and maintained on grounds of public policy.