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Privilege for accountants’ tax advice in Australia - Brave new world, or house of straw?


The common law has long recognized that legitimate communications between lawyers and their clients need to be protected from disclosure, in order to ensure that clients are candid with their legal advisers (this is the common law doctrine of “legal professional privilege”). This candour is seen as having a “special significance because it is part of the functioning of the law itself” (Baker v Campbell per Dawson J) and is entrenched for Australian federal courts by the Evidence Act [1995] Cth. In recent times, other professions (including accountants) and industries have sought to claim a similar protection, but have been firmly rebuffed by Australian courts. However, foreign legislatures have proved more accommodating – the United States has, for example, long recognized the accounting “work product” doctrine and similar protection is provided by s 20B of the UK Taxes Management Act 1970.

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Andrew is an Associate Professor of Taxation Law at the University of Canterbury, New Zealand.
Current at 1 August 2012
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Prof Robin Woellner CTA
Prof Robin Woellner is an Adjunct Professor in the School of Law at James Cook University and the School of Tax and Business Law at UNSW. Robin had previously been Foundation Dean of the Faculty of Law at WSU (then UWS), Foundation Dean of the College of Law and Business at WSU, and Pro-Vice Chancellor of Law, Business and the Creative Arts at JCU. Robin has co/authored several books, presented numerous national/international conference papers and articles, as well as teaching at undergraduate and postgraduate level on a wide range of topics. Robin has served on various editorial panels, and held executive positions in universities, Business and Law Deans Councils, ALTA and similar bodies. Academic Qualifications: • BA, LLB, LLM (Hons), University of Sydney • Grad. Dip. Taxation (Dist) RMIHE Professional Associations & Designations: • Fellow, Australian Academy of Law • Fellow, Institute of Managers and Leaders • Chartered Tax Advisor (CTA) - Current at 25 August 2020
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