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Attorneys acting in Europe for U.S. corporations should be aware that the hole in the attorney-client privilege doughnut was made even larger last September. In Case No. C-7/04 P(R), Commission of the European Communities v. Akzo Nobel Chemicals Ltd. and Akcros Chemicals Ltd., the president of the European Court of Justice affirmed a government’s right to force in-house counsel to turn over documents prepared solely for the purpose of obtaining external legal advice. The documents included a memorandum from company management prepared for the purpose of obtaining outside legal advice with handwritten notes referring to contacts with one of the lawyers representing the company and the attorney’s name. The lesson is that simply invoking the attorney-client privilege in Europe will not prevent government review of documents in which legal advice is either rendered or merely sought.

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