The SFO announced this week that it would not be appealing last month's Court of Appeal judgment in the case of the Director of the Serious Fraud Office v Eurasian Natural Resources Corporation. The 5 September 2018 ruling reversed a High Court decision that materials, including working papers and interview notes, prepared during an internal investigation were not protected by privilege as they had been created at a time when criminal legal proceedings were not in progress or reasonably contemplated.
This judgment is considered a landmark ruling on the principle of legal professional privilege and gives continued protection to confidential communications between company executives and their legal advisors.
This decision represents a setback for the SFO and its stance on investigatory powers which, under its previous director Sir David Green CB QC, it sought to deploy to force companies to reveal documents over which legal professional privilege was claimed. An SFO spokesperson has stated 'The SFO will continue thoroughly to assess the merits of all privilege claims and remains prepared to challenge those it considers to be ill founded.'
To read our original summary on the ENRC's decision, click here.