The Law Society appoints leading firm to intervene in landmark legal privilege battle

The Law Society appoints Reed Smith for legal privilege battle

The Law Society has appointed law firm Reed Smith to represent it as it seeks to intervene in a major Court of Appeal battle between former FTSE 100 miner the Eurasian Natural Resources Corporation (ENRC) and the Serious Fraud Office (SFO).

ENRC crashed out of the FTSE 100 in 2013 amid corporate governance failings that one former board member described as “more Soviet than City”.

The SFO launched an investigation into the miner in 2013 focusing on corruption and bribery claims stemming from Kazakhstan and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Read more: Serious Fraud Office wins bid to show documents from former FTSE 100 miner

The upcoming Court of Appeal battle focuses on legal privilege and is being closely scrutinised by the legal profession over fears that material that was previously protected by lawyer-client confidentiality could now be exposed in court.

Legal professional privilege allows lawyers to advise clients on potential litigation without that advice later having to be disclosed.

The Law Society, which is the representative body for solicitors in England and Wales, has appointed Reed Smith to potentially intervene in the case on its behalf over concerns that legal privilege is being eroded.

Reed Smith corporate crime partner Eoin O'Shea said: “Legal privilege is an essential right in our complex and regulated society. The Law Society is uniquely placed to assist the appellate courts in clarifying the law in this sphere. Reed Smith is very glad to support the Society’s role protecting access to justice and the rule of law.”

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The appeal follows a High Court decision in May which ruled that ENRC had to hand over documents to the SFO that has been shared between ENRC and its former law firm Dechert during an internal investigation into corruption and bribery allegations.

​The case is set to go to court in July.

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