Case Report – Government fails to meet burden of proving solicitor-client privilege

On February 10th, Madam Justice Layden-Stevenson of the Federal Court held that the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans failed to prove a claim that two sentences in a ministerial briefing document were subject to solicitor-client privilege. The Minister argued the sentences, which were not authored by a lawyer, were revealing of legal advice. In dismissing this claim, Layden-Stevenson commented:

Regarding the Minister’s submission that disclosure of the name of the lawyer is tantamount to disclosure of that which is subject to solicitor-client privilege, I would think that if that were so, it ought to have been stated in Mr. Ahluwalia’s affidavit.

She also held that the Minister had waived privilege by implication given disclosure of similar information in the record before the Court.

Environmental Defence Canada v. Canada (Fisheries and Oceans), 2009 FC 131 (CanLII).

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