IT’S BEEN A PRIVILEGE

Written by admin
October 1st, 2018

In a number of recent cases members of the Firm have been asked to assist Police by providing information about clients who are now deceased.

Enquiries often stem from the fact that there has been long running bad blood between the deceased and another individual, members of a particular family, or members of an opposing gang.

The previous history of conflict and dispute is often something that has given rise to previous sets of criminal proceedings. Those with whom the deceased has been in conflict may have been witnesses, complainants or indeed simply attended Court to express a view or to cause trouble for a client.

Inevitably, clients are more likely to have commented to their Solicitor about such groups or individuals and may well have divulged all sorts of information about threats, harassment, even the use of violence.

Inevitably, Police Officers are keen to put together information which may go to motive or to bad character if adversary are now charged with offences arising from the death of an individual or perhaps ongoing problems involving friends or family of a deceased.

Bad character and motive are obviously very relevant issues for the Investigating or Prosecuting Team to pursue. Nevertheless, it is always worth remembering that the discussions between a deceased client and their Lawyer remain subject to privilege. That is not a privilege that can be waived by Executors or Beneficiaries or an Estate. It is not a privilege that can be waived by a Lawyer who might now be desperate to anything to assist an old client, to whom they feel a strong emotional attachment.

It has to be said, where a Solicitor does or does not disclose information they can still find themselves on the wrong side of a lot of abuse. Where a Solicitor may feel they have a duty or a waiver, where the breach of privilege is concerned, they are likely to find themselves victims of hostile treatment from anyone against whom that statement is used or the friends of that person. Where a Solicitor refuses to disclose information that may be thought to be of use to the Prosecution, a deceased’s family may themselves turn hostile believing that the Solicitor is in some way betraying their dead friend or relative. As ever, there are many who might feel that as a hard working trusted Solicitor, you are not in a very privilege position.

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