Miscellaneous 2010

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

Source: Australian Tax Forum Journal Article

Published Date: 1 Jul 2010

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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Miscellaneous 2010

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