Three Rivers – the latest!

United Kingdom

This week, the House of Lords granted permission to appeal the Court of Appeal’s March decision on legal advice privilege in the high profile case of Three Rivers District Council and others v The Governor and Company of the Bank of England.

The March judgment was the latest in a series on the Bank’s disclosure obligations in the Three Rivers case that have brought into sharp focus the issue of the extent of protection offered by legal advice privilege. In that judgment the court found that communications between the Bank and its lawyers on the manner in which evidence was presented to the Bingham Inquiry did not have the benefit of legal advice privilege because that advice did not relate to the Bank’s legal rights and obligations.

The Court of Appeal commented in their judgment that this area of law is "not merely difficult but unsatisfactory". It is hoped that, at the very least, the House of Lords will go some way to clarifying the scope of legal advice privilege, a right that affects companies, individuals, private practice and in-house lawyers.

The hearing of the appeal has been expedited but the date has yet to be fixed. In view of the importance of this decision to legal advice generally, and to the substantive case which is currently in trial, it is hoped that the House of Lords will hear this appeal in the very near future. In the meantime, we are left with the Court of Appeal's narrow interpretation of legal advice privilege.

Click here to read our report on the Court of Appeal's March decision.

Click here to read our report on Tomlinson J's first instance decision.

For more information please contact Guy Pendell at [email protected] or on +44 (0) 207 367 2404 or Amanda Wadey at [email protected] or on +44 (0) 207 367 2308.