General definitions

Part of Investigatory Powers Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 7:00 pm ar 3 Mai 2016.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Robert Buckland Robert Buckland The Solicitor-General 7:00, 3 Mai 2016

When I saw the amendment, I was reminded of points I made earlier regarding the dangers of over-defining either legal professional privilege itself or those who are subject to it. Let us remind ourselves that legal professional privilege exists not to create a special category of person—in this case, a lawyer—who is exempt from requirements by which the rest of us have to abide, but to protect the client and the integrity of the advice that a lawyer may give to their client. My concern about the proposed definition is that it limits the definition of what items would be subject to legal privilege. For example, legal executives might well be in the position where they are giving advice and are covered by legal professional privilege. Even paralegals could be, should be and would be covered by legal professional privilege.

I absolutely accept the intention behind the amendment, but however well intentioned it might be, trying to define “professional legal adviser” in the Bill would actually damage and undermine the importance of legal professional privilege. We have had many debates about it, but I think the Bill serves to protect that privilege. We are continuing to discuss the precise extent to which that is reflected in all parts of the Bill, but there is no doubt about the Government’s clear intention. I am proud to be a Minister supporting this approach because I always felt that RIPA was deficient in that respect—I held those views long before I became a member of the Government. I am pleased that we are making such progress.