On 13 April 2011 the Supreme Court granted Prudential permission to appeal against the Court of Appeal's decision confirming that legal professional privilege does not extend to tax law advice given by accountants, or to the advice of any professionals other than qualified lawyers (i.e. solicitors, barristers or foreign lawyers): R (on the application of Prudential PLC & Anor) v Special Commissioner of Income Tax & Anor [2010] EWCA Civ 1094.

The Court of Appeal held that it was bound by previous Court of Appeal authority to find that legal professional privilege is restricted, at common law, to members of the legal professions. The court went on to say that, even if it were not so bound, it would conclude that any extension of privilege outside the legal professions is properly a matter for Parliament.

In light of the importance of the issue, the Law Society (represented by Herbert Smith), the Bar Council and the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) all intervened in the Court of Appeal. The Law Society has also been granted permission to intervene in the Supreme Court and will make oral and written submissions supporting the Court of Appeal's decision (click here for the Law Society's press release). We understand that the ICAEW, which supported Prudential's application for permission to appeal, will also intervene.

For more information see our e-bulletins on the Supreme Court's grant of permission and the Court of Appeal judgment.