Home Civil Society Voices Importance of protecting legal professional privilege and right to representation

Importance of protecting legal professional privilege and right to representation

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As the regulator of the legal profession in Peninsular Malaysia, the Malaysian Bar stands firm against unethical practices and dishonest acts by lawyers.

Such behaviour is antithetical to the core principles of integrity and honesty that underpin the legal profession. Engaging in dishonest conduct not only violates the ethical standards expected of legal practitioners but also severely undermines public trust and confidence in the profession as a whole.

Notwithstanding the above, it is incumbent on us to remind all enforcement bodies, such as the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), to respect legal professional privilege and the right to legal representation.

These rights are cornerstones of a fair and just legal system, ensuring that individuals can seek and receive confidential legal advice without fear of reprisal or breach of confidentiality.

By respecting these fundamental rights, enforcement bodies not only adhere to constitutional mandates but also reinforce the integrity and credibility of their investigative processes, ultimately contributing to the public’s trust in the legal and justice system. Any act which undermines these rights would be detrimental to the public.

We highlight the Federal Court’s decision of Tan Chong Kean v Yeoh Tai Chuan & Anor [2018], where in upholding legal professional privilege, the Federal Court held the following:

[28] The rationale in the principle is to enable and protect an individual’s ability to access to the justice system with complete disclosure of all necessary information to his legal adviser free from any hindrance in the form of fear that any disclosure by him of any communication may prejudice him in the future.

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[29] The courts regard client legal privilege as a ‘substantive general principle which plays an important role in the effective and efficient administration of justice by the courts …’

As done on various occasions in the past, we remind all members of the Malaysian Bar of the critical importance of upholding legal professional privilege.

If information or documents that are protected by legal professional privilege are sought, members are obligated to refuse disclosure unless their clients provide explicit written consent.

The Malaysian Bar remains resolute and unwavering in its commitment to upholding the rule of law and ensuring that justice is served without fear or favour.

We urge all enforcement bodies to cease unlawful practices that undermine legal professional privilege and the right to legal representation.

It is imperative to respect these legal rights and privileges, as they are fundamental to the proper administration of justice.

Mohamad Ezri Abdul Wahab is president of the Malaysian Bar.

The views expressed in Aliran's media statements and the NGO statements we have endorsed reflect Aliran's official stand. Views and opinions expressed in other pieces published here do not necessarily reflect Aliran's official position.

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