Attorney Client Privilege In The Bowman V. Fels Case

1583 words - 7 pages

The concept of attorney – client privilege has been a long withstanding foundation of the English legal system. It is arguably among the basic principles of justice. This is why when this doctrine is under threat we must pay close attention. Such was the case in Bowman v Fels, where the entire principal was possibly under major reform. The discussion of this paper will critically analyze the decision reached in this case, and the reasoning behind said decision. I will begin my analysis by first establishing the facts and the issues that arose during the hearing. And then proceed to analyse the issues in order to better determine the wider impact the case had. Following the decision of the Court Of Appeal, many critics raised questions regarding the issues not dealt with by the decision, these critiques and further questions raised about the scope and direction which English Law is heading will also be analysed. Before we begin delving into the analysis we must first establish the facts of the case as presented.
The claimant, Jennifer Bowman, lived with the defendant, William Fels, for 10 years. The house in which they resided was registered solely in Mr. Fels name. The two cohabitants’ relationship ended, Ms. Bowman “asserted a right to a beneficial interest in the property arising out of a constructive trust.” She argued that an agreement was reached between her and Mr. Fels that the property would be bought jointly. The proceedings of the case had started, and the trail was set for March 25th 2004. It so happened that upon inspection of the defendants’ trail bundle by the claimant’s solicitors a discrepancy was found. They suspected that the defendant had included cost of work carried out at his home within his business account, even though the house work had no relation to the business. This finding led them to notify the National Criminal Intelligence Service (NCIS). The claimants’ lawyers believed that under section 328 of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002, they were obliged to notify the NCIS if they did not want to be held criminally liable for entering into an “...arrangement which he knows or suspects facilitates (by whatever means) the acquisition, retention, use or control of criminal property by or on behalf of another person..." They also believed that the Act prevented them from disclosing to the parties what they had done. They requested the trail judge that the case be adjourned for a later date, while NCIS continued its investigation. The claimant’s lawyers did not provide a reason for this, but their adjournment was granted nonetheless. In his judgment Judge Cowell cited P v P and concluded that the claimant’s solicitors should inform Mr. Fels and his lawyers of the real reason for which they sought adjournment. The two parties settled the matter but the case was sent to appeal due to the fact that the interpretation of s328 was an issue of great public importance.
Legal Issues
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