Yesterday, the UNAM´s Legal Research Institute (Instituto de Investigaciones Jurídicas) held an international seminar that gathered the antitrust and legal community to discuss the client-attorney privilege during competition proceedings. High-level panelists attended.
Privilege is broadly regulated in Mexico, and new legal frameworks are pushing the envelope for discussion by legal community of all areas of practice. Discussions took 5 hours, but I just want to remark 3 big ideas:
1. Antitrust Agency (COFECE) is preparing guidelines for protecting privilege in proceedings. It was remarked that privilege will be applicable for independent lawyers, rather than in-house counselors. Also, the privilege has to be related to legal defense. It is not clear if provisions would include economic defense or advice.
2. Some practitioners emphasized that mandatory bar admission must be the foundation of this privilege, and Bars must act as disciplinary body before peers, and collaborators to the authorities. Recently, COFECE issued an advocacy opinion commenting on a bill providing for lawyer’s mandatory bar admission, indicating that there are competition barrier concerns. This discussion is far form over.
3. Judges are taking the privilege seriously. Courts will play a main role on designing these privilege rules for practicing lawyers and authorities. These rules would apply for antitrust and the rest of areas of law.
There is already an expectation to read the first draft of COFECE´s guidelines in the public consultations. All eyes are on how ample and clear is the protection. It has to address well the right to a legal defense and be crystal clear for the good of competition proceedings.
Photocredit: Seminar on client-attorney privilege from the Legal Research Institute (UNAM).