An appeal to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) has been lodged in the Akzo Nobel case in which the European Court of First Instance (CFI) reaffirmed that there was no privilege for in-house lawyers under EU competition law (see our e bulletin of 18 September).
Akzo Nobel Chemicals Limited has appealed the CFI ruling which allowed EU inspectors to have access to certain documents which the company claimed where covered by privilege. In a decision which has been highly criticised, the CFI held that EU law should continue to follow the 1982 judgment of the ECJ in the case of AM&S Europe v Commission of the European Communities  QB 878. In that case the ECJ held that privilege did not extend to protect internal communications involving in-house lawyers from disclosure during competition investigations by the EU Commission. That protection only applies to communications with "independent" lawyers, which is deemed to exclude lawyers bound by a "relationship of employment". The appeal may take up to two years for a judgment to be given.