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Guidelines for Executing Search Warrants on Solicitors' Offices - In the Wake of Baker v Campbell (1983) 49 ALR 385

NCJ Number
Australian Police Journal Volume: 38 Issue: 2 Dated: (April-June 1985) Pages: 44-51
A J Sing
Date Published
8 pages
These police guidelines for executing search warrants on attorneys' offices are offered in the context of the Australian High Court's decision in Baker v. Campbell (1983), which exempted from searches attorney documents that meet the criteria for attorney-client privileged communications.
The police must determine whether the documents identified in a search warrant conform to the criteria for privileged communications before executing the warrant. To be privileged, the documents must be communications whose purpose is to give or receive legal advice or papers created as a direct result of anticipated or current litigation. Since an attorney's claim that documents encompassed in a search warrant are privileged is insufficient to render the warrant illegal, the executing officer must determine whether or not the claim is valid before seizing the documents for a thorough investigative inspection. The officer may obtain sufficient information about the documents to determine the validity of the claim of privilege without an inspection of the documents. An inspection of the documents will be required when their nature can only be determined by a partial review of their contents. These guidelines for conducting such examinations are intended to balance the public's interest in detecting criminal offenses and the privacy right of individual citizens.