What Does Solicitor-Client Privilege Mean for Injury Victims?

professional relationship between a client and a lawyerWhen a personal injury victim meets with a lawyer for the first time during a free initial consultation, everything that is said remains confidential.

This confidentiality is necessary to help ensure that clients are comfortable providing candid information and so that lawyers can offer confidential advice and legal representation. Lawyers not only have a duty to maintain the confidence of their clients, but they also must adhere to solicitor-client privilege.

Below, we discuss what this privilege means, the exceptions that exist and how it benefits injury victims seeking legal assistance. There is no risk in calling our firm and no obligation to utilize our services after meeting with one of our licensed Windsor personal injury lawyers at Greg Monforton and Partners.

Understanding Solicitor-Client Privilege

Solicitor-client privilege is an important legal concept that protects communications between a client and his or her lawyer. It allows clients to trust their lawyers with private information.

However, confidentiality and solicitor-client privilege can often be confused with one another. Confidentiality is a duty that lawyers owe to their clients in the course of their professional relationship. It even prevents lawyers from informally discussing details related to their clients’ cases with others.

Privilege is considered a rule of evidence and a protected right. It prevents lawyers from testifying or being forced to testify about their clients’ statements. Solicitor-client privilege also belongs to the client. Generally speaking, this means having the right to keep otherwise relevant information privileged.

This rule only applies if the communication meets three conditions:

  • The communication was between a lawyer and client
  • It must be for the purposes of giving or seeking legal advice
  • The advice sought is intended to be confidential by the parties

Protecting solicitor-client privilege is greatly enforced in Canada. The Supreme Court of Canada has previously held that solicitor-client privilege is a fundamental right and substantive rule of law.

Benefits of Solicitor-Client Privilege

An injury victim can discuss whether he or she has a valid case with a lawyer in private. If an insurance company was given access to certain communications, they would use it to look for any reason to devalue or deny a claim. The insurer’s ultimate goal is looking out for their bests interests and not yours.

Most communications are protected by solicitor-client privilege. For instance, if a client is concerned about having a pre-existing condition, his or her lawyer cannot discuss this information with others.  With that being said, it is important to be honest with a lawyer about anything that may be relevant to the case. Failing to disclose information could make it harder for a lawyer to manage a case effectively.

Exceptions to the Solicitor-Client Privilege

It is important to note that while all communications between lawyers and their clients are confidential, not all communications are privileged. There are certain exceptions to the solicitor-client privilege.

Privilege does not apply to communications that are criminal. For instance, if a client tells his or her lawyer about a crime he or she is planning to commit, the lawyer may waive solicitor-client privilege.  

Anything mentioned on social media by injury victims can also not be privileged information. This is because these communications are not exclusive to the client and his or her lawyer.

Although most communications between clients and lawyers are never revealed (unless a client is willing to do so), the confidential nature of these communications is never absolute.

Solicitor-Client Privilege vs Litigation Privilege

Solicitor-client privilege is not the only type of privilege that exists. Although solicitor-client privilege protects legal advice communications between a lawyer and his or her client, litigation privilege is not restricted to communications between the parties.

Important differences in these privileges include:

  • Solicitor-client privilege happens any time a client seeks legal advice from a lawyer regardless if litigation is involved. Litigation privilege only applies within the context of litigation.
  • Solicitor-client privilege is about building and maintaining a confidential professional relationship. Litigation privilege is based on the need to create a zone of privacy to facilitate investigation and the preparation of a case for trial.  
  • Solicitor-client privilege can last forever because only the client can waive that privilege. Litigation privilege only lasts until litigation has ended.

Request a Free Consultation

Need legal help? Anything discussed in a free consultation with a member of our legal team remains strictly confidential. There is no obligation to retain our services after this initial meeting. There is also no risk in calling us to get answers to your legal questions anytime, day or night.

Our firm works on a contingency fee basis, which means no upfront fees to take on a case. We only receive payment at the end if we help you obtain compensation via a settlement or verdict.

Greg Monforton & Partners. Millions Recovered. Ph: (866) 320-4770.