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Are there limits to attorney-client privilege?

To receive effective representation from your client, it is important that they have a full understanding of your case through honest and transparent communication between you and them. For this to happen, you must have the assurance that all communications (oral and written) between you and your attorney will be protected by a special right of confidentiality known as the client-attorney privilege

However, while it is common knowledge that communications between you and your attorney are privileged, the truth of the matter is there are exceptions to this rule. 

Understanding the purpose of client-attorney privilege

Generally, the Courts advocate for full disclosure of all material and relevant information to a case, and the reason for this is pretty clear: to ensure that justice is served. That being said, the doctrine of client-attorney privilege ensures that there is frank and open communication between the client and their attorney. But when does the attorney-client privilege cease to hold?

Two limits to the attorney-client privilege

Your attorney is not under obligation to uphold attorney-client privilege under certain circumstances. Here are some of these circumstances. 

Crime exception – If you seek your attorney’s indulgence in furthering a crime, or if you express the intent to commit a crime, then any disclosure or confession you make to your attorney may not be protected by the attorney-client privilege. However, if you approach an attorney for legal counsel and representation after committing a crime, then any disclosures therein are protected. 

Common interest – if your attorney is representing you and other parties in a single legal matter, then neither client may assert attorney-client privilege against the other parties in subsequent litigation as long as those litigation have something to do with past joint representations. 

Your attorney has a duty to represent you while acting in the best interest of justice. But what if they violate your attorney-client privilege? Find out how you can protect your right if your attorney has breached an attorney-client privilege.