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Akzo: another twist in legal privilege

On 29 April 2010 Advocate General Kokott gave her opinion in Akzo-Nobel Chemicals Ltd ('Akzo') and Akcros Chemicals Ltd ('Akcros') v European Commission (Case C-550/07 P) reaching the conclusion that legal professional privilege does not apply to communications between clients and their in-house lawyers. If the opinion is followed by the Court it could have implications for HMRC in the receipt of its own legal advice.

About the case

In Akzo the European Commission began proceedings in its capacity as a competition authority. During a search of the business premises of Akzo and Akcros documents were taken by the Commission. These included emails between Akzo and Akcros and their in-house lawyer (a member of the Netherlands Bar). Akzo and Akcros regarded these as legally privileged. The Commission refused to accept the documents were privileged and so Akzo and Akcros brought a claim in the General Court. This was unsuccessful...

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