INTERNATIONAL: The Law of Privilege For Foreign In-House Counsel)

Commercial Court in London ruled that legal professional privilege applies to foreign in-house counsel.

In a judgment handed down in September 2020, the English High Court has ruled that communication with foreign in-house lawyers (Russian lawyers) were privileged irrespective of foreign professional standards of regulation or qualifications: PJSC Tatneft v Bogolyubov and others [2020] EWHC 2437 (Comm).

Under English law, legal advice privilege applies to:
· In-house and professional lawyers (qualified, admitted to practise and members of professional bodies)
· Foreign lawyers (appropriately qualified)

Foreign or domestic legal advisors, whether in-house or external lawyers employed by organisations/corporations must be aware of the risks that cases may end up in a dispute in another jurisdiction where different legal professional privilege rules apply.

In Russia, an Advocate is an independent legal advisor who has been admitted to the Russian Bar and has received advocate status. By contrast, in-house lawyers are not members of the Russian Bar. The Russian legal concept of “advocates secrecy” which is equivalent to legal professional privilege does not apply to non-advocate or in-house lawyers.