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Europe Rules No Privilege for In-house Counsel

Global Glimpses | September 16, 2010

The European Union’s highest court has rejected a claim that documents created by in-house counsel are covered by lawyer-client confidentiality in competition cases. The ruling leaves E.U. law in conflict with the legal position that holds in several of its member states.

The European Court of Justice this week upheld a controversial lower court ruling that chemical company Akzo Nobel could not claim legal privilege over communications involving its in-house legal counsel.

Akzo has been arguing that such communications are confidential since 2003, when the European Commission copied legal paperwork that it accessed during a raid on one of the company’s U.K. offices.

The court ruling contrasts with the domestic laws of some member states, such as the U....

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