Basically, solicitor-client privilege has been defined as a right that: protects the confidentiality of communications between a lawyer and a client for the purposes of obtaining legal advice, in order to allow clients to speak with absolute candour to their legal advisers. In relation to criminal prosecution, solicitor-client privilege has been defined as: …the right, if any, that a person has in superior court in the province where the matters arises to refuse to disclose an oral or documentary communication on the ground that the communication is one passing between the person and the person’s lawyer in professional confidence…
From the definition propounded, the privilege merely covers the relationship between the client and the counsel and at the same time covers communication between the two. In addition, in any kind of litigation, the privilege is asserted to protect the confidentiality of the communication. The privilege has evolved in the early history of legal profession and has been recognized and established by the common law. The existence of the privilege for a long period of times and its subsequent developments has been made possible by the purposes that it serves.
By referring to the definition, it can be inferred that the privilege has been granted in order that the client can freely speak to the lawyer without having fear that what he says might be made known to other people regardless of their interest in the shared information. In addition, the protection afforded by the solicitor-client privilege is extended only on legal advices. Remarkably, in one of the cases decided by the Supreme Court, it stated that the privilege has been based on “the functional needs of the administration of justice.
” Hence, it clarified that the privilege is a vital part of the justice system. Additionally, the privilege is made available to the client so that the client can frankly speak to his lawyer in seeking legal advice and eventually in accessing justice. The privilege, then, is enacted to facilitate free and manifest communication between the client and the lawyer without any impediment of betrayal or fear of disclosing any information. Furthermore, the changes and the intensification of the privilege has been tolerated because of it importance in the administration of justice.
Notably, lawyers cannot fully discharge their function in giving advice and in defending the cause of the client if the client refuses to disclose material information to the lawyer. Likewise, the client cannot receive proper legal advice and cannot raise his defenses if he cannot give information because of impediments. Hence, the privilege has been granted to break the barriers that may impede the functioning of the client and the lawyer.