Just between you and me

Solicitor-client privilege is important to consider before sharing emails about employees with others
By Carol Chan
|Canadian Employment Law Today|Last Updated: 09/21/2011

You receive an email from your company’s lawyer with advice about how to handle a difficult situation with an employee. A few of your colleagues have been assisting you with the situation and this advice would help the group decide how to proceed. However, before you forward the email to your colleagues, have you considered the impact of doing so on solicitor-client privilege?

Solicitor-client privilege is a very important but often misunderstood concept. Communication covered by solicitor-client privilege is protected from disclosure to any person that does not “own” the privilege — including other parties, courts, arbitrators or administrative bodies such as the Labour Relations Board, Human Rights Tribunal or Ministry of Labour. This protection is central to the legal process, because it encourages clients to speak openly with their lawyers without fear their conversations will be made public. So important is solicitor-client privilege, the Supreme Court of Canada has declared it a fundamental civil and legal right.

When solicitor-client privilege applies