No. XII.6 - Attorney-client privilege

Any communication between a client and his attorney which is made in the course of or in anticipation of legal proceedings or which relates to the giving of legal advice, i.e. the seeking of advice as to legal rights and obligations as opposed to general business matters, and which originates in a confidence that it will not be disclosed, is privileged and may not be introduced as evidence in court or arbitration proceedings.

1 This Principle is based on the idea that privileges are substantive in nature. A comparative qualification of evidentiary privileges will almost certainly lead to the conclusion that these issues have a substantive nature. This follows from the public policy judgements underlying these privileges. Very often, these judgements relate to the value of certain kinds of information or communication. Such judgements are substantive in nature, even if they are manifested in procedural law in certain jurisdictions because they relate to the taking of evidence.

2 The Principle may be referred to by international arbitral tribunals in lieu of applying complicated conflict-of-laws concepts related to the question of which domestic law applies to a privilege. Also, the tribunal’s procedural discretion extends to the treatment of evidentiary privileges. Thus, privileges share the fate of arbitral decision making in this area. It is a general problem that, in the absence of clear evidentiary standards for international arbitration, the tribunal’s rulings on evidence can appear unfair and arbitrary in certain cases.

3 By referring to the "confidence" of one side, the Principle makes reference to the reliance interest of the party which expects to be protected by the attorney-client privilege at the time when it makes the communication to his attorney. It is this reliance interest which must be protected by arbitral tribunals that deal with the issue of privileges.

4 The Principle does not answer the question whether the attorney-client privilege extends to communications with in-house counsel, a question that is treated differently in domestic legal systems around the world.

Please cite as: "Commentary to Trans-Lex Principle ,"
Court Decisions
A. M. & S. Europe Ltd. v. Commission of the European Communities, (1983), Q.B. at 878 et seq.
B and Others v. Auckland District Law Society and Another, (2003), 2 A.C. 736.
Balabel and Another v. Air India, Court of Appeal (1988) Ch. 317
Hilti Aktiengesellschaft v. Commission of the European Communities, European Court reports (1990) at II-00163
Joined Cases T-125/03 R and T-253/03 R, Akzo Nobel Chemicals Ltd and Akcros Chemicals Ltd v Commission of the European Communities, Order of the President of the Court of First Instance, 30 October 2003, available at:
OLG München I, Urt. v. 18.12.79 - 32 O 1334/79 at 197 et seq.
Regina v. Derby Magistrates Court, Ex parte B., Same v. Same, Ex parte Same, (1996) A.C. 487
The NCK Organization LTD. and William E. Greene, Jr., Appellees, v. Walter W. Bregman, Appellant, 542 F.2d 128
Three Rivers District Council and Others v. Governor and Company of the Bank of England (2005) A.C. 610
United States of America v. Philip Morris Inc. and others, British American Tobacco (Investment) Limited, (2003) EWHC 3028
United States v. United Shoe Machinery Corporation, (1950) 89 F.Supp. 357
Upjohn Company et al., Petitioners, v. United States et al., 449 U.S. 383
Amber Stevens, An Analysis of the troubling Issues surrounding In-House Counsel and the Attorney-Client Privilege, Hamline Law Review 298, 1999
Berger, Evidentiary Privileges: Best Practice Standards versus/ and Arbitral Discretion, Arb. Int 22 (2006), at 501 et seq.
Burkard, Peter H., Attorney-Client Privilege in the EEC: The Perspective if Multinational Corporate Counsel, 20 Int'l Law 677
Conflict of Laws and the Attorney-Client Privilege: A Territorial Solution, Steven Bradford, University of Pittsburgh Law Review, 1991, at 909 et seq.
Domingo, Ortega, Rodriguez-Antolin, Zambrana, Principios de Derecho Global, Navarra, 2006
Eichler, F. H./Peukert, W., Vertraulichkeit der Rechtsberatung durch Syndikusanwälte und EMRK, AnwBl 2002 at 189 et seq.
Fabian von Schlabrendorff / Audley Sheppard, Conflict of Legal Privileges in International Arbitration: An Attempt to Find a Holistic Solution, in: Aksen et al., Global Reflections on International Law, Commerce and Dispute Resolution, Liber Amicorum in honour of Robert Briner, Paris 2005.
Fouchard Gaillard Goldman on International Commercial Arbitration (edited by Emmanuel Gaillard and John Savage) The Hague 1999
Henssler/Prütting (eds), Kommentar zur Bundesrechtsanwaltsordnung, Munich 2004 , § 46, paras 19, 24
Kleine-Cosack, Michael, Neuordnung des anwaltlichen Berufsrechts, NJW 1994, 2249 et seq.
Knoblach, Steffen: Sachverhaltsermittlung in der internationalen Wirtschaftsschiedsgerichtsbarkeit, Berlin 2003.
Meyer-Hauser et al, Attorney Secrecy v Attorney-Client Privilege in International Commercial Arbitration, in: 73 Arbitration, London 2007, at 143 et seq.
Meyer-Hauser, Bernhard F.: Das Anwaltsgeheimnis. Anwaltsgeheimnis und Schiedsgericht, Zürich u.a., 2004.
Redeker, Konrad, Der Syndikusanwalt als Rechtsanwalt, NJW 2004, 889 et seq.
Roxin, Claus, Das Zeugnisverweigerungsrecht des Syndikusanwalts, in: NJW 1992, at 1129 et seq.
Contract Clauses
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