The Parameters of the Attorney-Client Privilege for In-House Counsel at the International Level: Protecting the Company’s Confidential Information

Pratt, Joseph | January 1, 1999

The gaps in the privilege at the international level present a major problem for general counsel. In the worst case scenario, the company’s own legal opinions could be used against it by a foreign tribunal. To reduce this risk, general counsel at multinationals should become familiar with the parameters of the attorney-client privilege at the international level and use this knowledge to devise strategies to protect the corporation’s sensitive information in foreign jurisdictions. Part II of this comment begins by describing the roots of the modem attorney-client privilege in the United States and its extension to in-house counsel. This section provides a context for analyzing the privilege as it is applied to corporate counsel at the international level. Part III then continues by setting forth the global parameters of the privilege for in-house counsel. This section illustrates why general counsels need to take additional measures to protect company information in foreign regions. Finally, Part IV of this comment concludes by suggesting four strategies that corporate counsels at multinational firms may use to help protect their companies’ sensitive communications.