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Disclosure of Company's Privileged Documents to Shareholders As an Application of Joint Interest Privilege: Operation and Justifications

Kiu Yan Yu

(2020) 32 SAcLJ 36

Joint interest privilege is one of the exceptions to legal professional privilege, allowing privileged materials to be disclosed through discovery and inspection. Of the relationships that give rise to a joint interest, the company–shareholder relationship is perhaps of the greatest interest. While recognised under English law, US and Canadian laws have reached different conclusions on whether shareholders should be allowed access to the company’s privileged materials. This article aims to highlight some of the issues concerning the operation and justifications of the company–shareholder joint interest relationship, and takes the position that this joint interest relationship is ultimately unjustifiable.