• Legal Professional Privilege in EU Competition Proceedings Denied to In-House Lawyers: The Court of Justice Rules in Akzo Nobel Chemicals Ltd v. Commission
  • September 16, 2010 | Author: Tim Frazer
  • Law Firm: Arnold & Porter (UK) LLP - London Office
  • The Court of Justice of the European Union has rendered a final judgment in a long-running case concerning the extent of legal professional privilege (attorneyclient privilege) in EU competition investigations. On 14 September 2010, in Akzo Nobel Chemicals Ltd v. Commission, the Court ruled communications between in-house lawyers—even if members of a national Bar—and their clients will not attract privilege. The long-standing EU jurisprudence, confirmed in this judgment, is that privilege attaches only where the relevant documents concern the client’s right of defence and where the exchange is with an independent lawyer. In Akzo Nobel, the Court ruled that the condition of independence was not fulfilled by a Dutch in-house lawyer, even though he was a member of the Dutch Bar and had certain employment protections as a result of his status. Because privilege did not attach to his communications with his client, they could lawfully be seized by the European Commission in the course of a dawn raid on the company’s premises. www.arnoldporter.com