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What is Solicitor/Client Privilege?

Solicitor Client Privilege means that information shared with a lawyer by a client cannot be shared (except for in certain situations), including by court order. The Alberta Court of Appeal looked at this issue in the case of 0678786 BC Ltd v Bennett Jones LLP, 2021 ABCA 62. The Court said at paragraph 21:

[21]Solicitor and client privilege is a well-established feature of Canadian law. It is considered to be a substantive principle of fundamental importance to the Canadian legal system, because it allows clients to fully and frankly discuss their legal issues with their counsel, without fear of those discussions and the resulting advice being revealed: Canada (National Revenue) v Thompson, 2016 SCC 21 at para. 17, [2016] 1 SCR 381; Alberta (Information and Privacy Commissioner) v University of Calgary, 2016 SCC 53 at para. 20, [2016] 2 SCR 555. This is essential to the proper functioning of the legal system.

and then at 24:

[24]The privilege belongs to the client, not the lawyer. It follows that the privilege can only be waived by the client: Thompson at para. 39. The actions of the client may sometimes amount to a waiver, but actions by the lawyer not authorized by the client cannot amount to waiver by the client. Sometimes privileged documents will come into the hands of third parties. Whether inadvertent disclosure amounts to waiver depends on the circumstances...

If you have questions about how solicitor client privilege works, please feel free to contact us.

The information contained in this article is not legal advice. No solicitor client relationship is formed through this article. The reader is encouraged to retain counsel for advice in these matters.

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