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Legal professional privilege used to be simple: if a document or thing came to the attention of a lawyer in the course of, or in during preparation for, litigation it was privileged. That was it. Simple, clear and everyone knew where they stood. Then some twit decided to invent "legal advice privilege" which tends to the view that anything said between a lawyer and his client is privileged. Then no one knew where they stood because, in England and Wales and therefore in other jurisdictions following that, behind all of this lay two fundamental principles: a solicitor is an officer of the Court and must not mislead the Court and legal professional privilege breaks when a client attempts to involve the solicitor in the commission of a crime. Advocates of legal advice privilege were not supportive of that.

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Recent collapses in criminal cases in the UK and Australia have been the result of prosecutors failing to deliver all evidence within their control or knowledge to defence teams. But there is another side to the story - the not mythical death by paper where so much evidence is delivered that the defence cannot handle it or identify the nugget in that mountain that would aid their case.

Book: Sun Tzu and the Art of Litigation

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Closed registers of shareholders and directors of companies, and company registers where the identity of shareholders and/or directors are not collected, have long been recognised as vehicles for financial crime. However, while governments are anxious to trace moneys relating to tax evasion (and, for political reasons, tax avoidance), to say nothing of money laundering and corruption, there are, in some cases, valid reasons for maintaining secrecy. As babies are, en masse, being thrown out with the bathwater, it's worth remembering what those reasons are.

An Australian Court is the latest to say that a US headquartered company cannot refuse to produce information as to users who post defamatory statements. This time it's Google's "Blogger" / "Blogspot" service.

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