PracticeAccounting FirmsUS lawyers allowed to breach legal privilege

US lawyers allowed to breach legal privilege

The American Bar Association has relaxed its ethics rules to allow lawyers to blow the whistle on clients if they discover evidence of corporate crime.

Link: ICAEW: Extend legal privilege to accountants

This follows a number of corporate scandals, which have led to criticism of the role of lawyers.

Under the new rules, lawyers will be allowed, but not required, to breach the rule of client confidentiality to prevent a financial crime or fraud or to rectify serious corporate crimes after the fact, the FT reported.

The rule is already active in 42 US states, some of which have made it a requirement.

It is likely to encourage the ICAEW, which is calling on the government to extend legal privilege to accountants and other professional fields, or be scrapped altogether.

The ICAEW argues that lawyer/client relationships are protected, while accountants do not have similar protection, despite both professions competing for similar business, including tax and company law advice.

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