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Legal professional privilege “essential”, say readers

Accountancy Age readers make clear they see legal professional privilege as essential to their ability to practice, after a poll

01 Feb 2013 Accountancy Age

By Calum Fuller

ICAEW at Moorgate Place

LEGAL PROFESSIONAL PRIVILEGE is "essential" to accountancy practitioners if they are not to find their trade restricted in comparison to lawyers.

Of the 60 readers to cast votes, 71% described the privilege – which currently sees any professional discussions between lawyers and their clients kept confidential – as essential and branded the current state of affairs as "unsustainable".

Just 13% felt that the privilege should be introduced in a limited form, while marginally more – 16% – felt that the profession has existed perfectly well without it.

The privilege sees any professional discussions between lawyers and their clients kept confidential.

Lawyers are currently the only professionals covered by the privilege, which allows a client to refuse to disclose certain confidential, legal communications to third parties, including courts.

The Supreme Court last month ruled that any extension of the privilege was for parliament to decide. The case was the result of a tax dispute between Prudential and HMRC.

In 2010, the Court of Appeal rejected claims by Prudential that when advising on tax law, accountants should be protected by legal professional privilege.

Take part in the latest Accountancy Age poll:

Is the Public Accounts Committee playing a useful role in the tax avoidance debate?

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