DC Circuit Reaffirms Attorney-Client Privilege in Internal Investigations

DC Circuit Reaffirms Attorney-Client Privilege in Internal Investigations

Blog Keeping Current: Disclosure and Governance Developments

In an important decision, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit held that the attorney-client privilege applies to communications with investigators in internal investigations as long as one of the significant purposes of a communication was to obtain legal advice. The Court rejected a lower court ruling that the privilege did not apply where the investigation had a parallel purpose of complying with regulatory requirements or implementing company policy, in addition to seeking legal advice. The decision will assist companies in investigating reports of wrongdoing by assuring them that communications made in the course of the investigation, motivated at least in significant part by the need to obtain legal advice about the company’s compliance with law, will not be available to plaintiffs who seek to exploit them in civil litigation. See WilmerHale’s client alert.

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