Disclosing documents to police does not necessarily entail a waiver of privilege, holds Quebec Appeal Court

A voluntary disclosure of a report protected by privilege to assist police in a criminal investigation does not quash the privileges attached to the document held the Quebec Court of Appeal in overturning a lower court decision, the latest indication that case law surrounding privilege continues to evolve, according to a legal expert.

In a decision that reviews and revisits Quebec case law surrounding privilege, the Quebec Appeal Court held that it would be contrary to public policy for the disclosure of privileged documents in criminal proceedings to “somehow” have the effect removing privileges attached to those documents. The waiver of lawyer-client privilege must be clear and unequivocal, added the Appeal Court in Centre universitaire de santé McGill c. Lemay, 2022 QCCA 1394.

Disclosure to a third party information protected by solicitor-client privilege in principle entails waiver of the privilege but the Quebec Court of Appeal emphasizes that context must be considered, which must take into account all the circumstances in the case, noted Montreal litigator with Lavery de Billy LLP, who recently published an article entitled “Professional secrecy and testimonial immunity” for the legal encyclopedia JurisClasseur Québec.

Continue reading “Disclosing documents to police does not necessarily entail a waiver of privilege, holds Quebec Appeal Court”

Amount of legal fees no longer necessarily protected by solicitor-client privilege

The amount of legal fees paid to lawyers is no longer automatically deemed to be protected by solicitor-client privilege following a recent ruling by the Court of Quebec that appears to be in conflict with guidance given earlier this year by the Quebec Court of Appeal, according to some legal observers.

In a ruling that will be the subject of a judicial review by Quebec Superior Court, Justice Diane Quenneville held that while billings are prime facie protected by professional secrecy because it generally contains a description of accomplished tasks, services rendered and often advice given, the amount of legal fees paid to a lawyer is not necessarily protected by professional secrecy.

Continue reading “Amount of legal fees no longer necessarily protected by solicitor-client privilege”