Daniels -v- ACCC

21 April 2010

Meerkin & Apel has had an important win in the High Court dealing with Legal Professional Privilege where the High Court agreed with our submissions that Legal Professional Privilege is an important right. Clients can now consult with their lawyers safe in the knowledge that unless specifically legislated away their consultation is privileged.

This is an important decision for the business community.

Below you will find our Press Release regarding this important win. You will also be able to read the full submission by clicking on the following site


Press Release

The Daniels Corporation International Pty Ltd and Meerkin & Apel v Australian Competition and Consumer Commission  High Court Case No: S27/2002.

On 7 November 2002 the Full Court of the High Court of Australia handed down a landmark decision protecting the fundamental human right of citizens, individuals and corporations to receive advice from a lawyer and to know that that advice is privileged. The judgment, which has been eagerly awaited by the business and legal community, centered around a case in which the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (“the ACCC”) argued that it had the right to view documents which a waste disposal company, The Daniels Corporation International Pty Ltd and their lawyers, Meerkin and Apel, claimed contained privileged and confidential legal advice. The ACCC argued that Parliament had worded the governing legislation of the ACCC, the Trade Practices Act, to remove the right of a corporation or individual to receive private legal advice by stating that a notice from the ACCC must be answered to the extent that a party is “capable of complying” with the Notice.

The Court has held that it is an important democratic principle that if the Government wishes to abolish a human right it must be done expressly by the elected Parliament rather than by a unilateral decision of an unelected Statutory Authority. The High Court has stated that it is important that when Parliament is intending to remove such an important human right there must be no doubt that that is their clear intention. The words contained in legislation must be clear and unambiguous. This was not the case in this situation and accordingly, the Court has decided that the fundamental human right of individuals and corporations to receive privileged legal advice is maintained.