Canadian law recognizes a near-absolute protection for the confidentiality of an accused’s communications with defence counsel. As stated by Justice Major, speaking for a majority of the Supreme Court of Canada in R. v. McClure, 2001 SCC 14 at para. 2:

Solicitor-client privilege… is fundamental to the justice system in Canada. …The integrity of the administration of justice depends upon the unique role of the solicitor who provides legal advice to clients within this complex system. At the heart of this privilege lies the concept that people must be able to speak candidly with their lawyers and so enable their interests to be fully represented.

Solicitor-client privilege allows an accused to obtain legal advice without fear that the communication will be disclosed without the accused’s consent.

At a criminal trial, solicitor-client privilege prohibits the prosecution from compelling an accused to divulge communications with defence counsel during cross-examination.

Useful references:

When articulating an objection, defence counsel may want to draw upon the following comments from Justice Doherty, speaking for a unanimous Court of Appeal in R. v. R. (A.J.), [1994] O.J. No. 2309 at para. 38:

Crown counsel…asked the appellant on more than one occasion about conversations he had had with his lawyer. These questions were improper in that they invited the appellant to disclose privileged communications or risk appearing non- responsive to the questions. The questions were also totally irrelevant...


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