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Digest of the Week | Solicitor-client privilege

Court reviews documents to determine if solicitor-client privilege is applicable.

Soprema Inc. v. Wolrige Mahon LLP

(2016), 2016 BCSC 1184, 2016 CarswellBC 1775, Grauer J. (B.C. S.C.); additional reasons to (2016), [2016] B.C.J. No. 937, 2016 BCSC 813, 2016 CarswellBC 1260, Grauer J. (B.C. S.C.) [British Columbia]

British Columbia Supreme Court

Discovery -- Discovery of documents -- Privileged document -- Solicitor-client privilege

Plaintiff companies co-owned corporate group led by C Ltd., while N and his holding company owned remaining half interest -- Defendant accounting firm acted as C Ltd's external auditor -- While being advised by third party accounting firm, plaintiffs bought out N's half interest -- Plaintiffs brought action against defendant for negligence and misrepresentation, alleging that N engaged in fraudulent conduct while president of corporate group, and defendant brought third party claim -- Defendant's application for disclosure of documents over which privilege was claimed was granted in part, with most claims upheld, some documents ordered produced to defendant, and certain internal documents ordered produced for judicial inspection -- Privilege claims upheld over some of inspected documents -- First two documents were privileged as coming within continuum of communication relating to legal issues -- Document discussing minor corrections to underlying document was privileged on basis of counsel's correspondence establishing that underlying document was draft prepared by in-house legal counsel -- Affidavit evidence established that six documents relating to information obtained by real estate appraisal experts was privileged as such information was obtained for purpose of provision of legal advice -- Final category of documents were communications involving legal counsel only indirectly or not at all and nothing in them indication that information was gathered for purpose of facilitating legal advice even though it might have been used for that purpose -- Documents suggested that counsel was involved only peripherally as facilitator and that information was sought by others for use in own analyses and due diligence -- It was not enough that counsel might have used information if it was not gathered for purpose of facilitating provision of legal advice -- Documents relating to corporate due diligence reports must be produced.
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