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Importance of Solicitor-Client Privilege Affirmed at Supreme Court

The Federation of Law Societies of Canada was granted intervener status in two recent Supreme Court of Canada proceedings which dealt with the constitutionality of certain provisions of the Income Tax Act requiring individuals, including lawyers and notaries, to provide information to the Minister of National Revenue, including information that might be subject to solicitor-client privilege.

The Supreme Court of Canada has now released its decisions in those matters. Links to the cases follow: Canada (National Revenue) v. Thompson: ; Canada (A.G.) v. Chambre des notaires: . In both decisions, the Court considered the definition of solicitor-client privilege in the Act, which excludes “an accounting record of a lawyer.” The Federation intervened in both of these cases, arguing for robust protection of solicitor-client privilege. Consistent with the Federation’s arguments, the decisions represent a strong affirmation of the importance of solicitor-client privilege in our justice system. A copy of the Federation’s high level summary of the decisions is attached.

Through interventions such as these, the Federation plays a key role in giving a collective voice to the law societies.