General definitions

Part of Investigatory Powers Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 7:00 pm on 3 May 2016.

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Photo of Joanna Cherry Joanna Cherry Shadow SNP Westminster Group Leader (Justice and Home Affairs) 7:00, 3 May 2016

I beg to move amendment 870, in clause 225, page 177, line 11, at end insert—

‘(a) an advocate,

(b) a barrister,

(c) a solicitor.’

This amendment provides a definition of a “professional legal adviser” relating to use of the term in clauses 25, 100, 135 and 171.

I am grateful to the Law Society of Scotland for drawing my attention to the necessity of this amendment. When we debated the clauses on legal professional privilege—we have done so on a number of occasions during this Committee’s proceedings—I drew attention at an early stage to the Law Society of Scotland’s evidence to the Joint Committee. It gave evidence alongside the Law Society of England and Wales and expressed its shared and serious concerns about the requirement to provide for the protection of legal professional privilege on the face of the Bill. It is pleased that the Government have taken steps to do that, although it is not happy with the extent of the protection provided. That is perhaps a debate for another day.

The purpose of the amendment is to deal with the definition of items subject to legal privilege at line 29, on page 175. The amendment deals with the definition in relation to Scotland and would define a “professional legal adviser” as a person who is an advocate—that is, of course, the correct professional designation for counsel in Scotland or a Scottish barrister—a barrister or a solicitor. The aim is to avoid leaving the definition of a “professional legal adviser” open to too wide or ambiguous an interpretation. It will limit the definition of those who are qualified to provide professional legal services to advocates, solicitors and, in certain circumstances, barristers. I will be interested to hear what the Solicitor General has to say about the proposed definition of a “professional legal adviser”.