May 14, 2018 Top Story

Joint Client May Compel Disclosure of Privileged Documents

Objection of former joint client does not prevent production

By Matthew S. Mulqueen

Parties in a joint attorney-client relationship who give little thought to the discoverability of privileged communications until a conflict emerges may be surprised to learn that a former joint client can compel the disclosure of communications within the scope of the parties' representation.

In Newsome v. Lawson, the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware granted a joint client's motion to compel the production of privileged communications from a joint attorney, despite the objections of the other joint client. The decision reinforces the importance of addressing potential conflicts with clients at the outset of a joint representation, according to leaders in the ABA Section of Litigation.

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