Understanding Privilege Between Client And Lawyer

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Understanding Privilege Between Client And Lawyer

Did you know that when you hire a lawyer, some of your communications are protected by solicitor client privilege? This principal has been firmly entrenched in the common law since the 1500s. The Supreme Court of Canada has referred to it as “a principal of fundamental justice and civil right of supreme importance in Canadian law”. Due to its significance in your relationship with your lawyer, it is important that you understand what solicitor client privilege entails. This privileged fundamentally creates a relationship that allows for proper legal representation. The lawyers at Kahane Law Office in Calgary, Alberta take privilege very seriously. Keep reading or connect today to learn more.

What Is Solicitor Client Privilege?

Solicitor client privilege exists to allow clients to communicate candidly with their lawyer. They know that the disclosure protection of their communications with their lawyer exists. Disclosure forms a key part of litigation. Requirements exist for parties to disclose relevant materials to the opposing side. This allows the court to have all information to make a proper decision. Solicitor client privilege applies to communications that are:

  1. Made between a lawyer and their client;
  2. Made for the purpose of seeking or providing legal advice; and
  3. Intended to be confidential by the parties.

In other words, the above-mentioned otherwise admissible in court as probative or trustworthy evidence or disclosable to the opposing party in litigation communications, must remain confidential.

Communication Not Protected By Solicitor Client Privilege?

It is important to remember that communications not related to seeking or giving legal advice between a lawyer and their client is not protected. For example, if your lawyer provides advice on business or recommends restaurants to try, such communications may not attract privileged. Furthermore, privilege does not protect legal advice provided with a view to help facilitate a crime. Exemptions also exist where a life or person may be in imminent danger. For example, if a client states that they intend to go kill someone.

Does Solicitor Client Privilege When Reading Legal Blogs?

These days, you can easily access legal information online and connect with lawyers through firm blogs such as this one. However, merely accessing information on a lawyer’s blog will not create a relationship which is protected by solicitor client privilege. Generally, the definition of communication involves information passing between client and lawyer concerning the client’s particular issue. Reading a blog consists of passing information of a general non-specific to a client nature in a singular direction; not meeting the definition of communication.

Does Solicitor Client Privilege Protect Phone Calls With Lawyers?

This protection of communication exists for all communication. Email, phone and even text messages form means of communicating with your lawyer. Often times, clients or potential clients make an initial call to a lawyer. That single call may be the only communication with that lawyer. Even when you seek legal advice from a lawyer on the phone and do not end up retaining him or her, the lawyer has a duty to keep those communications confidential. Prior to signing a retainer, often times a solicitor client relationship has been informally established. All communication attracts the protection of privileged.

Who Waives Solicitor Client Privilege?

Because solicitor client privilege belongs to the client, in general, only the client can waive the privilege voluntarily. If forced to waive privilege or unintentionally disclosed privileged information, privilege is not automatically waived.

As stated previously, exemptions exist to the waiver of disclosure. In select situations, a lawyer may choose to disclose limited privileged client information such as when defending himself or herself against misconduct allegations or when there is a clear and imminent threat to public safety.

The Importance Of Being Truthful With Lawyers

Solicitor-client privilege exists to spur frank, full and free communication between lawyers and their client when seeking and providing legal advice, thereby advancing access to justice. This principal allows clients to trust their lawyers with private information. Open, honest and complete communication with criminal lawyers, litigation lawyers, employment lawyers, etc, helps ensure the best representation possible. A proper and useful legal opinion only stems from a lawyer’s understanding of the complete picture.

When seeking legal advice from a lawyer, it is important to be forthcoming and upfront with your lawyer about the facts of your case. Failing to fully reveal the complete truth about your matter means that it will be difficult for your lawyer to devise a strategy to properly defend you, which detrimentally impacts your chances of achieving a victory. Losing a case can mean reputational harm, monetary fines, a criminal record and even jail time for the client.

Additionally, keeping secrets from your lawyer also leads to unexpected curve balls as your case progresses that may have otherwise been avoidable. Understandably, in certain situations, you may feel anxious about admitting guilt to your lawyer. You may consider fabricating the truth out of fear that your lawyer will judge you or provide a poor defense after learning about your guilt. However, being guilty does not mean you do not deserve legal representation. On the other hand, knowing the accurate facts of the case makes it easier for your lawyer to employ a range of options that work in your favour. Knowing the full story may mean that, even if he or she cannot get you off completely, your lawyer can assist with negotiating a lighter sentence.

Need Legal Assistance?

At Kahane Law Office, we always have your best interests at heart. While being candid with your lawyer can be intimidating at times, it will inevitably allow your lawyer to prepare a stronger argument leading to a higher likelihood of success. We understand the emotions that occur when dealing with various legal matters. If you need legal assistance, we can help evaluate your case and provide you with legal advice. We love helping. Connect with us at 403-225-8810 in Calgary, Alberta, or email us directly here.