Categories:Corporate,Europe

Revealed: Akzo Nobel threat to global firms

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Readers' comments (5)

  • AKZO - Inhouse privilege

    Perhaps this point has already been made but is it not the case that preserving normal levels of in-house 'counsel' and client privilege is part of the reason that solicitors (at least) in-house may still use the title 'solicitor' and are issued with full practising certificates (on payment of the appropriate fee). In some European jurisdictions in contrast it was the case that the professional title could not be used in house - for example a German lawyer in house notwithstanding that he/she had been previously a
    Rechtsanwalt/Rechtanwaeltin- on going in-house could only use the title Jurist/Juristin signifying (amongst other aspects) the loss of privilege as regards their advice /communication with their client. That has not been the case in the UK with solicitors and therefore this decision at the very least will have an 'uneven effect' as between EU/EEA jurisdictions .

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  • AKZO in house privilege

    The previous comment by Anonymous might be slightly misleading re the situation in Germany: A Rechtsanwalt who moves to an in-house position as a lawyer is allowed to continue to use the title of and sign business letters as a 'Rechtsanwalt'.

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  • German in-house lawyers

    ..following on from Jyoti: the restriction is that they are not able to act in court for their employer. But the conflict between the Akzo judgement and the privilege enjoyed by the in-house Rechtsanwalt is indeed exercising the minds of the bar here.

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  • AKZO - In house Privilege

    I think that the situation in Germany changed relatively recently to allowing the use of the title Rechtsanwalt/Rechtsanwaeltin in house precisely because of the ambiguity ( amongst other issues ) -- as regards privilege -- caused by the use of Jurist /Juristin.

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  • Privilege following Akzo Nobel

    Akzo Nobel doesn't really change the status of advice given by either in-house lawyers or non-EEA counsel. It has been clear since the AM&S judgment in 1982 that neither will be privileged as against the European Commission. It doesn't matter what professional title an in-house lawyer has (eg. solicitor/legal adviser/Rechtsanwalt/Jurist), or whether his or her advice is privileged for the purposes of national law - it will not be privileged in Commission investigations. Privilege attaches only to advice from external counsel admitted in the EEA. Disappointingly, in the light of the increasing importance and status of the in-house legal function in the 25 years since AM&S, Akzo Nobel failed to overturn this principle. What the judgment did deliver, however, was clarification that internal work done for the purposes of instructing external counsel may be privileged, and that Commission investigators are not allowed to read through advice for which privilege is claimed, in order to decide whether the claim is justified. If a business wants to keep advice away from the Commission, there is, as there has been since 1982, only one option: to obtain it from external counsel admitted in the EEA.

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