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Title: Legal professional privilege and its relevance to corporations
Author: Higgins, Andrew Allan
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2014
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This thesis examines the rationale for legal professional privilege (LPP) in relation to corporations, and seeks to identify the optimal scope of a corporate privilege at the beginning of the 21st century. It argues that there is a growing gap between the jurisprudence on LPP and the modern realities of corporate life. Too often courts explain the rationale for the privilege by reference to the needs and behaviour of individuals, and use questionable analogies to justify its extension to corporations. Accordingly, insufficient account is taken of the legal, economic and social realities in which corporations operate. This has resulted in a privilege rule that rests on questionable foundations and is uncertain in scope. Even when the privilege rules are clear, its scope is often out of alignment with its rationale. This is unacceptable because the cost of a corporate privilege is substantial. The thesis argues that while corporations are entitled to a right to prepare for litigation in private as part of the right to fair trial, the case for a corporate advice privilege unconnected with litigation is weak. Large private and public companies already have sufficient incentives to consult lawyers in order to obtain legal advice. Corporate governance rules effectively require directors to get advice on important legal matters affecting the company. Directors of small private corporations, and individual employees of companies, may still need some additional incentive to take advice or talk candidly to corporate counsel in the form of a privilege. The thesis looks at ways of structuring the privilege to protect these groups. Above all, the thesis argues that rules on corporate advice privilege should be formulated in such a way that it helps rather than hinders the goal of increasing corporate compliance.
Supervisor: Zuckerman, A. A. S. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Law ; Legal Professional Privilege ; Corporations ; Human Rights