Minter v Priest: HL 1930

The House was asked whether a conversation between a person seeking the services of a solicitor in relation to the purchase of real property and the solicitor was privileged in circumstances where the solicitor was being requested to lend the deposit payable under the transaction but was not prepared to do so and declined to act.
Held: The conversation was not privileged on the ground that the defendant was not acting as a solicitor at the relevant time because he was not undertaking the duty of a solicitor on the proposal made to him but had made a proposal involving ‘a malicious scheme’ to keep the plaintiff out of the transaction, with a view to making a profit from it himself: ‘The relationship of solicitor and client being once established, it is not a necessary conclusion that whatever conversation ensued was protected from disclosure. The conversation to secure this privilege must be such as, within a very wide and generous ambit of interpretation, must be fairly referable to the relationship . .’ and ‘. . the idea that it was possible to split the interview into two parts, treating the first as a proposal to lend money personally and the second, contingent on this, to act as a solicitor is, to my mind, outside the bounds of reasonable inference . . I am not prepared to assent to a rigid definition of what must be the subject of discussion between a solicitor and his client in order to secure the protection of professional privilege.’
Lord Atkin said: ‘If a person goes to a professional legal adviser for the purpose of seeing whether the professional person will give him professional advice, communications made for the purpose of indicating the advice required will be protected. And included in such communications will be those made on occasions such as the present where the parties go to a solicitor for the purpose of seeing whether he will either himself advance or procure some third person to advance a sum of money to carry out the purchase of real property. Such business is professional business, and communications made for its purpose appear to me to be covered by the protection, whether the solicitor eventually accedes to the request or not.’
Lord Buckmaster, Lord Dunedin, Lord Atkin
[1930] AC 558
England and Wales

  • Cited – Hagart and Burn-Murdoch v Inland Revenue Commissioners HL 1929
    The mere lending of money, outside the existence or contemplation of professional help, is outside the ordinary scope of a solicitor’s business . .
    [1929] AC 386
  • Cited – Lawrence v Campbell 1859
    Legal privilege was claimed in English litigation for communications between a Scottish client and a Scottish solicitor practising in London.
    Held: ‘the same principle that would justify an Englishman consulting his English solicitor would . .
    (1859) 4 Drew 485, [1859] EngR 385, (1859) 62 ER 186
  • Cited – O’Shea v Wood 1891
    The court set down the test for protection by legal professional privilege. . .
    [1891] P 286
  • Cited – Minet v Morgan CA 1873
    A connection with litigation is not a necessary condition for legal privilege to be attracted to a document.
    The law on legal privilege had not at once reached a broad and reasonable footing, but reached it by successive steps. . .
    (1873) LR 8 Ch 361, (1873) 8 Ch App 361
  • Appeal from – Minter v Priest CA 1929
    An issue was whether conversations between a solicitor and his client relating to the business of obtaining a loan for the deposit on the purchase of real estate were privileged from disclosure.
    Held: They were privileged. The were within to . .
    [1929] 1 KB 655

Cited by:

  • Cited – Three Rivers District Council and others v The Governor and Co of the Bank of England (No 6) CA 1-Mar-2004
    The Bank of England had sought assistance from its lawyers to prepare for a private non-statutory enquiry. The claimant sought disclosure of that advice. The defendant bank claimed legal professional privilege.
    Held: Not all advice given by a . .
    [2004] EWCA Civ 218, Times 03-Mar-04, Gazette 18-Mar-04, [2004] 3 All ER 168, [2004] QB 916, [2004] 2 WLR 1065
  • Cited – Great Atlantic Insurance v Home Insurance CA 1981
    The defendants sought to enter into evidence one part of a document, but the plaintiffs sought to have the remainder protected through legal professional privilege.
    Held: The entirety of the document was privileged, but by disclosing part, the . .
    [1981] 2 All ER 485, [1981] 2 Lloyds Rep 138, [1981] 1 WLR 529
  • Cited – Three Rivers District Council and others v Governor and Company of the Bank of England (No 6) HL 11-Nov-2004
    The Bank anticipated criticism in an ad hoc enquiry which was called to investigate its handling of a matter involving the claimant. The claimant sought disclosure of the documents created when the solicitors advised employees of the Bank in . .
    [2004] UKHL 48, Times 12-Nov-04, [2004] 3 WLR 1274, [2005] 1 AC 610
  • Cited – Nederlandse Reassurantie Groep Holding NV v Bacon and Woodrow Holding 1995
    A Dutch corporation had obtained advice from lawyers and other professionals before purchasing share capital in insurance companies. After the purchase the corporation discovered that it was exposed to large losses and began proceedings in . .
    [1995] 1 All ER 976
  • Cited – Ratiu, Karmel, Regent House Properties Ltd v Conway CA 22-Nov-2005
    The claimant sought damages for defamation. The defendant through their company had accused him acting in such a way as to allow a conflict of interest to arise. They said that he had been invited to act on a proposed purchase but had used the . .
    [2005] EWCA Civ 1302, Times 29-Nov-05, [2006] 1 All ER 571
  • Cited – Prudential Plc and Another, Regina (on the Application of) v Special Commissioner of Income Tax and Another Admn 14-Oct-2009
    The company had obtained legal advice but had taken it from their accountants. The Revenue sought its disclosure, and the company said that as legal advice it was protected by legal professional privilege.
    Held: The material was not protected. . .
    [2009] EWHC 2494 (Admin), [2009] STI 2770, [2009] BTC 680, [2010] ACD 10, [2010] STC 161, [2010] 1 All ER 1113, [2009] NPC 113
  • Cited – Prudential Plc and Another, Regina (on The Application of) v Special Commissioner of Income Tax and Another SC 23-Jan-2013
    The appellants resisted disclosure to the revenue of advice it had received. It claimed legal advice privilege (LAP), though the advice was from its accountants.
    Held: (Lords Sumption and Clarke dissenting) LAP applies to all communications . .
    [2013] WLR(D) 20, [2013] UKSC 1, UKSC 2010/0215
  • Cited – ZS v FS (Application To Prevent Solicitor Acting) FD 24-Oct-2017
    Discosure of Confidences must be at risk
    H sought to restrain W’s solicitors from acting. The firm was one of six firms approached to consider representing H, and he now said that certain matters had been diviluged to the firm.
    Held: The legal principles were clear, and it was for H . .
    [2017] EWHC 2660 (Fam)

These lists may be incomplete.
Updated: 05 December 2020; Ref: scu.194261