- In Addlesee v. Dentons Europe LLP  EWCA Civ 1600 (2 October 2019) the Court of Appeal held that, once established, legal advice privilege remains in existence forever unless and until it is waived.
- Privilege over documents is not lost because there is no person entitled to assert it when a disclosure request is made; privilege attaches to communications and is therefore more than a personal right.
- Accordingly, the defendant solicitors had a duty to uphold the privilege of a former client even though the former client was a company which had been dissolved.
- The judgment is notable for its strong assertion of the public policy reasons for legal advice privilege. When a client seeks legal advice from a lawyer it should be on the basis that “there are no circumstances under which the privileged communications will be disclosed without his consent.”
The Court of Appeal has provided a ringing endorsement of the rule ‘once privileged, always privileged’.
A group of investors invested in a scheme marketed by a Cypriot company (the company). The defendant solicitors acted for the company. During the course of their instruction, documents came into existence regarding the scheme which attracted legal advice privilege. When the company was eventually dissolved, the investors claimed the investment scheme was fraudulent and issued proceedings against the defendant solicitors claiming damages for deceit or negligence. The investors sought access to the documents that had passed between the defendant solicitors and the company, their former client. The question on appeal was whether legal advice privilege in those documents subsisted notwithstanding the dissolution of the company.