New Law on Police Endangers Confidentiality of Privileged Professional Communication
The amendments to the Law on Police and laws on other law enforcement agencies introduce two levels of protection for privileged professional communication. The first level concerns the attorney-client privilege and confessional privilege. “These privileges cannot be revoked or lifted, which means that when a particular agency comes across materials containing such privileged communication, they have to immediately destroy them. The second level concerns all other professional privileges, including medical and legal professional privilege,” explains advocate Małgorzata Mączka-Pacholak.
Advocate Małgorzata Mączka-Pacholak points out that an officer of a given agency assesses whether the material is covered by the privilege only after acquainting oneself with its content. “If an officer decides that the obtained material is protected by the legal or medical professional privilege, they have to contact the prosecutor who will then transfer the material to the court. The court will, in turn, decide whether the material can be used in proceedings or not,” specifies advocate Małgorzata Mączka-Pacholak.
She notes that confidentiality of professional communication is not a privilege, but – first and foremost – the right of clients or patients who place their trust in professionals such as advocates or doctors. “In the legal or medical profession, it is important for our client or patient not to be afraid to confide their secrets in us, so that we trust each other. In a situation when there is a suspicion that the client confides their secrets in somebody else as well, the performance of our work is more difficult,” advocate Małgorzata Mączka-Pacholak adds.