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HMRC internal manual

Compliance Handbook

Dishonest tax agents: file access notice: documents and information we cannot request: privileged communications

We cannot require a person

  • to provide privileged information, or
  • to produce the privileged part of a document.

Information is privileged if a claim to legal professional privilege or, in Scotland confidentiality of communications, could be maintained in legal proceedings.

This is a complex area of the law but, broadly speaking, privilege attaches to

  • documents containing confidential communications between lawyer and client for the purpose of obtaining or giving legal advice, and
  • documents produced for the purpose of contemplated or actual litigation.

Documents may contain some information that is privileged and some that is not. Where a person does not wish to produce that part of a document that is privileged, they can produce a copy of the part that is not protected. The original document must be made available for us to inspect if we need to. The protected parts may be kept covered up at this inspection.

Where any claim for legal professional privilege is made (or any other matter relating to legal professional privilege arises) a report should be made to Tax Administration, Litigation and Advice (TALA), before any further action is taken.

Regulations made under paragraph 23 of Schedule 36 to FA 2008, which concern resolving disputes regarding privileged communications, also apply to disputes regarding legal privilege involving dishonest tax agents.


SI 2009/1916