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No privilege for in-house lawyers' advice in EU competition investigations

This article was originally published in SRA

Executive Summary

In a judgment that will have disappointed (but not surprised) in-house lawyers across the EU, the Court of Justice of the EU (formerly the European Court of Justice) has confirmed that advice given by in-house lawyers is not protected by legal professional privilege under EU law1,2. This means that the European Commission will continue to be able to take copies of in-house lawyers' advice and to rely on it in their investigations into suspected breaches of the EU competition rules. Given the focus of the commission's recent investigations in the sector, this is of particular relevance to in-house lawyers in pharmaceutical companies.

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