The “Attorney-Client Privilege Protection Act of 2009” (the “Act”) is designed to preserve the attorney-client privilege and attorney work-product protections available to a company or organization, and to safeguard the constitutional rights and other legal protections available to employees of such an organization. The Act places practical and clearly defined limits on a federal agency’s power to coerce or pressure an organization to waive its legitimate legal protections or to act against the interests of its employees during the course of an investigation.
The Act prohibits any agent or attorney of the United States from demanding, requesting or otherwise pressuring any company or other organization to:
- Disclose information that is protected by the attorney-client privilege or attorney work-product doctrine.
- Refuse to provide counsel to, or contribute to the legal expenses of, an employee.
- Refuse to enter into a joint defense, common interest, or information sharing agreement with an employee.
- Withhold information from employees that would be relevant to their defense.
- Terminate or sanction an employee for exercising his or her constitutional rights or other legal protections.
The attorney-client privilege is essential to ensure that both individual and corporate clients may communicate candidly with their attorneys in confidence. The Attorney-Client Privilege Protection Act would prevent the continued erosion of this fundamental legal protection. NACDL, along with many prominent bar associations, business groups, and civil liberties organizations, strongly supports this important legislation.
The Senate version of the Act, S. 445, was introduced into the Senate by Senator Arlen Specter in February of 2009. Representative Bobby Scott introduced the virtually identical House version of the bill, H.R. 4326, to the House in December of 2009. Both S. 445 and H.R. 4326 are currently pending before their respective Judiciary Committee.
The Act was originally introduced to Congress in 2007. The House version of the bill, H.R. 3013, passed with no serious opposition on November 12, 2007. The Senate version, S. 3217, was reintroduced in the Senate in June 2008 and referred to the Committee on the Judiciary without any further action being taken
Resources on S. 445 and H.R. 4326
Text of S. 445
Text of H.R. 4326
NACDL's Attorney-Client Privilege Protection webpage