NI: Legal bodies unite to lobby Government over Investigatory Powers Bill
Legal bodies across the UK have united to publish a joint briefing paper outlining the provisions required in the Investigatory Powers Bill to protect legal professional privilege.
The House of Lords is currently considering the Bill, with the second reading and debate to take place on Monday.
The Bar of Northern Ireland and the Law Society of Northern Ireland have teamed up with the Bar Council of England and Wales, the Law Society of England and Wales, the Faculty of Advocates, the Law Society of Scotland, the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives, Liberty and JUSTICE to produce the briefing.
It identifies seven points on which the Bill must be amended to protect legally privileged communications from surveillance.
Gerry McAlinden QC, chairman of the Bar Council of Northern Ireland, told Irish Legal News: “On behalf of clients throughout the UK, the Bar of Northern Ireland has joined the Bar Council of England and Wales and other legal representative bodies in lobbying Government to protect legal professional privilege.
“As it currently stands, the proposed Investigatory Powers Bill fails to protect the fundamental and constitutional right to consult a lawyer in confidence. Any infringement of this client held right risks undermining their right to a fair trial and access to justice.
“We recognise the need to make proper provision for surveillance activities; however the legislative framework must support and uphold the rule of the law. The latest briefing paper outlines the measures which can be taken to ensure legal professional privilege is suitably protected whilst allowing for a robust Investigatory Powers Bill.”
Chantal-Aimée Doerries QC, chairman of the Bar Council of England and Wales, told ILN: “The consensus among the main political parties and Government seems to be that more work is needed on the Investigatory Powers Bill to ensure the right protections are in place before it becomes law.
“Legal privilege exists to protect the public and we look forward to working with parliamentarians on all sides of both houses as the Bill progresses. This legislation affects a fundamental, constitutional right and it is important that we get the detail right.”