Any communication (written or oral) between a solicitor or a barrister and their client is covered by the concept of legal professional privilege, but what does this mean in practice ?
It means that all of that communication is confidential and neither the solicitor, barrister or the client can be ordered or obliged to disclose that communication to any third party or the courts.
This is not a benefit which is afforded to an HR professional or a “lawyer”. In the UK a person can call themselves a lawyer without having any professional qualifications and they very well may not be a qualified solicitor or a barrister. Many people do not realise this and it can have adverse repercussions for clients as it means a court can order that the communications between a lawyer (who is not a practicing solicitor or a barrister) and their client are disclosed as part of the litigation process. This can be extremely damaging as it could result in evidence being disclosed which the client may have thought was confidential. By way of example, an employer may speak to their advisor about a desire for exiting an individual who they perceive to be a problematic employee and the various ways in which this could be done will be discussed. This communication could demonstrate that the employer simply wanted that person out and any process followed was designed to achieve that and the outcome was a forgone conclusion. However, if that communication took place between the employer and a solicitor or a barrister, it would be protected under the concept of legal professional privilege and it cannot be disclosed to the court or any other third party.
The same cannot be said of communication between a client and a lawyer or an HR advisor.