Regina v Snaresbrook Crown Court, ex parte Director of Public Prosecutions: 1988

The defendant was charged with attempting to pervert the course of justice by making a false allegation of assault against the police. It was said that he must have made a false statement in his application for legal aid for the purpose of bringing his civil action for assault. The 1974 Act made it an offence for anyone seeking legal aid knowingly to make a false statement or representation when furnishing any information required from him.
Held: The common law principle of legal professional privilege cannot be excluded, by the exception established in Cox and Railton in cases where a communication is made by a client to his legal adviser regarding the conduct of his case in criminal or civil proceedings, merely because such communication is untrue and would, if acted upon, lead to the commission of the crime of perjury in such proceedings. It had been submitted by the DPP that the communication with the area office of the Law Society to obtain legal aid was made in furtherance of a crime.
Held: ‘Obviously, not infrequently persons allege that accidents have happened in ways other than the ways in which they in fact happened or that they were on the correct side of the road when driving while actually they were on the wrong side of the road and matters of that sort. Again, litigants in civil litigation may not be believed when their cases come to trial but that is not to say that the statements they had made to their solicitors pending the trial, much less the applications which they made if they applied for legal aid, are not subject to legal privilege. The principle to be derived from R v Cox and Railton applies in my view to circumstances which do not cover the ordinary run of cases such as this is’ For the purposes of section 10(2) it was the holder who had to have the criminal purpose, and that the Law Society was the holder and that the Law Society had no intention of furthering a criminal purpose:- ‘No intention could be further from its thoughts.’


Glidewell LJ


[1988] QB 532


Legal Aid Act 1974 23


England and Wales


CitedRegina v Cox and Railton 1884
(Court for Crown Cases Reserved) The defendants were charged with conspiracy to defraud a judgment creditor of the fruits of a judgment by dishonestly backdating a dissolution of their partnership to a date prior to a bill of sale given by Railton . .

Cited by:

Overruled in partRegina v Central Criminal Court ex parte Francis and Francis HL 1989
The police had obtained an ex parte order for the production of files from a firm of solicitors relating to financial transactions of one of their clients. The police believed that the client had been provided with money to purchase property by an . .
CitedHallinan, Blackburn-Gittings and Nott (A Firm), Regina (on the Application Of) v Crown Court at Middlesex Guildhall and Another Admn 15-Nov-2004
In a criminal investigation, the police came to suspect that a junior clerk in a barristers’ chambers was intending to give a false alibi. Though the solicitors were innocent of any wrongdoing, the police required their file. The solicitors claimed . .
CitedKuwait Airways Corporation v Iraqi Airways Company (No 6) CA 16-Mar-2005
The defendant company appealed against an order allowing inspection of documents for which litigation privilege had been claimed. It was said that the defendants had been involved in perjury in previous proceedings between the parties.
Held: . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Legal Professions, Criminal Practice

Updated: 30 April 2022; Ref: scu.220240