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Law Institute of Victoria responds to informer disclosures

Law Institute of Victoria responds to informer disclosures

The LIV is extremely concerned by disclosures that a legal professional acted as a police informer against clients during the gangland wars.

LIV president Belinda Wilson said the action goes against legal professional rules and is unethical.

Legal professional privilege protects the disclosure of communications between a lawyer and clients when they relate to legal advice or for use in legal proceedings.

Legal professional privilege is essential to the effective workings of the justice system.

Lawyers have legal professional privilege over communications with their clients.

It exists to serve the public interest in the administration of justice by encouraging full and frank disclosure by clients to their lawyers.

Clients need to have confidence that the information they provide to their lawyer will not be used against them.

Privilege also protects the right to privacy, access to justice and equality before the law.

It is fundamental to our democracy that clients who seek legal advice can expect and rely on their lawyers not to divulge information to anyone else.

Client legal privilege is available to resist disclosure of information in court, while common law privilege can be claimed in both judicial and non-judicial proceedings.

The justice system would not be able to operate effectively if clients could not trust their lawyers. People who seek legal advice need to know that they can have a full and frank discussion with their lawyers before they make decisions that can affect their lives and liberty. They may decide to plead guilty, admit liability or settle matters based on disclosures to their lawyers.

It is not permitted, nor is it ethical, for legal representatives to act as informers against their clients.

This raises the potential of tainted justice.

These are very serious issues that go to the heart of the criminal justice system.

The community deserves to have faith that everyone has equal access to confidential and independent legal advice.

For these reasons, we support the establishment of the Royal Commission into the Management of Informants.

 


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