Role of investigators does not support solicitor-privilege claim

18 May

On May 15th, Justice Ramsay of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice denied a claim that an investigation report was subject to solicitor-client privilege. He explained the difference between the kind of third party conduit whose role is essential to the solicitor-client relationship and an ordinary fact finder:

If the third party’s retainer extends to a function which is essential to the existence or operation of the client-solicitor relationship, then the privilege should cover any communications which are in furtherance of that function and which meet the criteria for client-solicitor privilege. Examples given in Chrusz are psychiatrists who examine the client and accountants who examine the client’s books (¶116).

On the other hand (¶22), “[i]f the third party is authorized only to gather information from outside sources and pass it on to the solicitor so that the solicitor might advise the client, or if the third party is retained to act on legal instructions from the solicitor (presumably given after the client has instructed the solicitor), the third party’s function is not essential to the maintenance or operation of the client-solicitor relationship and should not be protected.”

Both of the paragraph references above are to the Ontario Court of Appeal decision in Chrusz.

Weinmann Electric Ltd v. Niagara Falls Bridge Commission, 2013 ONSC 2805 (CanLII).

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