Connecticut Supreme Court Takes a Narrow View of the Attorney-Client Privilege

March 10, 2004

Most courts protect as privileged those communications from a lawyer relaying substantive information to a client, even if the information does not constitute legal advice or a request for facts that the lawyer needs to provide legal advice. Other courts take a narrower view.

In PSE Consulting, Inc. v. Frank Mercede & Sons, Inc., 838 A.2d 135, 167 (Conn. 2004), the Connecticut Supreme Court held that a lawyer’s confidential communication to a client “merely reported back to [the client] what he had said to a third party and how the third party had responded.” Because the communication was not “inextricably linked to the giving of legal advice,” the memorandum did not deserve privilege protection. Id. The court also explained that the memorandum was (as the trial court put it) “a reconstitution of an event that occurred with third parties involved,” and therefore failed the confidentiality component of the privilege. Id.

Lawyers should remember that not all courts take an expansive view of the attorney-client privilege.