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HMRC internal manual

Compliance Handbook

How to do a compliance check: information powers: rules that apply to all notices: resolving disputes about legal professional privilege: process when a notice is given at an inspection: the inspection

If you intend to ask an unrepresented person for documents where you suspect legal professional privilege may be in point you should explain briefly the concept of legal professional privilege and what documents need not be provided. You should also allow the person an opportunity to obtain advice.

If the person is unrepresented because their adviser is not on the premises at the time of your inspection you should give the person the opportunity to contact the adviser and be ready to explain what documents may be protected.

Before looking at any documents, not just those to which privilege may apply, you should explain to the person the rules surrounding legal professional privilege.

The person to whom you give the notice may choose to produce copies of the documents you require instead of originals, but you cannot require them to do so. If you want to exercise your entitlement to take a copy of any document you will have to use your own resources or rely on the goodwill of the person producing it to allow the use of available copying media.

When carrying out the inspection you must be prepared to identify material which may be protected by legal professional privilege. You should not look at, or make notes about, the contents of documents that may be privileged. If you are examining a file which looks as if it may contain privileged material you should return it to the person to check the contents.

See CH230340 for guidance about the process you and the person must follow if your notice is disputed.