THE CORPORATE LAW DILEMMA: LEGAL PROFESSIONAL PRIVILEGE VERSUS THE NEED FOR DISCLOSURE
An appreciation by Phillip Taylor MBE and Elizabeth Taylor of Richmond Green Chambers
Transparency… openness… disclosure: these have become the watchwords of modern business, to the point where it has become an almost incontrovertible truth that large corporations especially, must regard these criteria as part of an indisputable ethic to which their businesses must adhere.
Enter, however, the concept of ‘legal professional privilege’ to which this excellent book from the Oxford University Press is devoted and which is examined in a clear, lucid and robust manner. As author Andrew Higgins explains, ‘legal professional privilege’ ‘is the protection given to confidential communications between lawyers and their clients in connection with legal advice or litigation and preparatory materials thereto.’
Legal professional privilege thus enables clients -- specifically corporate clients -- to discuss all issues pertaining to a case freely and ostensibly without fear, that confidential information will be disclosed. ‘All major common law jurisdictions,’ says Higgins ‘recognize that powerful reasons exist for protecting lawyer-client communications and preparatory materials for litigation from compulsory disclosure’-- and there are four common law jurisdictions discussed in this book: England, Australia, Canada and the United States of America.
The obvious downside to all this however, is what Longmore LJ refers to in the foreword as ‘the tension between the wish of a person to avail himself of legal professional privilege and the need of society for disclosure of relevant material if disputes are to be fairly resolved.’
All too often, however, the law emerges as unclear on the sometimes fuzzy demarcation between, for example, legal professional privilege and the public ‘right to know’ -- especially on issues pertaining to large companies and the public they serve. ‘But any lack of clarity,’ says Longmore, ‘will be much ameliorated by this book.’
‘Disputes about privilege’, as Higgins points out, ‘are frequently litigated in the courts and it is usually corporations doing the litigating,’ Practitioners and academics will therefore find most, if not all, their questions answered regarding legal professional privilege in this enlightening volume by virtue of its clear, multi-jurisdictional approach which, unlike some treatises on the subject, does focus on corporations.
Undoubtedly destined to become a definitive work in this difficult and invariably controversial area of law, this book will be welcomed by corporate lawyers working not just in the United Kingdom, but in the other three common law jurisdictions. Note here, the table of legislation, as well as the table of cases, which lists some very famous corporate names across the four jurisdictions discussed.
Corporate lawyers and indeed anyone wishing to explore in depth the ‘tension’ between the need for transparency and the reluctance to disclose will particularly value this book, which is extensively footnoted throughout.
The law is stated as at 1 October 2013, with a November 2013 decision of the High Court of Australia also included in this edition.
- Hardcover: 352 pages
- Publisher: Oxford University Press UK; New edition (10 April 2014)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 019870268X
- ISBN-13: 978-0198702689
- Product Dimensions: 24.9 x 2.5 x 17.5 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 621 g
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- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 298,917 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)