Wednesday, January 23, 2013


Litigation Privilege - Production of Lawyer's Notes of Interview

A recent case deals with production of statements taken by an opposing party.  It provides a summary of the principles relating to litigation privilege.

In Hart v. Canada (Attorney General), 2012 ONSC 6067 (S.C.J.), the plaintiff brought a motion seeking production of notes that had been made by counsel for the defendant several years earlier when the plaintiff was a potential witness in another lawsuit arising out of the same factual nexus.  The notes appeared to be an almost verbatim translation of the interview.  The defendant argued the notes were protected by litigation privilege.  The Master ordered the notes to be produced and the defendant appealed.

The appeal was dismissed.  Litigation privilege cannot restrict disclosure of an opposing party's statements.  Information or statements that are obtained from an opposing party cannot be confidential from that party.  To the extent a document is a mere recording of information given by the opposing party, it is not subject to litigation privilege, even though it was created with a view to anticipated future actions; however, if the document contains something more that amounts to a solicitor's work product, then it is privileged.  Counsel for the defendant would be permitted to make a proposal to redact certain parts of the document that contained information that was more than simply a record of the plaintiff's interview and statement, such as margin notes, underlining and highlighting.

It appears that the key fact was that the notes contained an almost verbatim recording of the plaintiff's interview.  If the notes contained the solicitor's strategies or theories, the outcome may have been different.

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