September 15, 2016 Top Story

Law Firm Disqualified for Retaining and Using Privileged Email

Failure to follow California procedures for determining privilege causes disqualification

Daniel P. Elms

A California court disqualified a law firm based on its review and use of a privileged email exchange. The court found that the firm failed to follow California law regarding the handling of inadvertently produced documents, that its use of the privileged document could prejudice the case outcome, and that the integrity and public confidence in judicial proceedings. The holding serves as an important reminder that the determination of the existence of a privilege should be left to the courts and that parties failing to comply with applicable procedures for reviewing and using potentially privileged materials do so at their own peril.

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