Professional privilege battle reaches Supreme Court

AN APPLICATION TO APPEAL the courts’ decision against extending legal professional privilege (LPP) to accountants has been filed at the Supreme Court.

Prudential has battled to prevent HM Revenue & Customs from gaining access to tax advice it received from PwC, claiming the advice was protected under legal professional privilege. However the High Court and Court of Appeal have decided against extending LPP beyond lawyers.

The ICAEW and Law Society made representations for and against extending LPP to tax advisers respectively, during the Court of Appeal hearing.

Accountancy Age understands that the Supreme Court, which replaced the House of Lords as the highest appeal court in the UK in 2009, will decide early in the New Year whether to hear the case.

ian-young-icaewIan Young (pictured), ICAEW tax faculty technical manager, said the institute was reviewing its next step based on the Supreme Court’s decision.

Prudential would not comment about the application process.

In September the Court of Appeal reject claims that privilege should be extended to accountants on the grounds that what mattered was who was providing the advice and lawyers have a professional to the courts. Accountants do not.

It was pointed out that a legislative change would be required for accountants to claim legal privilege.

Supreme Court photo by Jaume Meneses, from flikr.


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