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Society for Advanced Legal Studies Lectures

Privacy, secrecy and confidentiality: from the employee's freedom to blow the whistle to the lawyer's duty to report suspicions about clients in secret

13 March 2013, 18:00 - 19:30

James Michael, Senior Associate Research Fellow, Institute of Advanced Legal Studies. Chair: Lord Dyson, PC, Master of the Rolls and Head of Civil Justice.  
Organised by:
Institute of Advanced Legal Studies
Event Type:
Venue Details:
Institute of Advanced Legal Studies
Charles Clore House
17 Russell Square


‘Whistle-blowing’ has become a part of the language of England since it was imported from the US in the 1970s (when someone on a Sunday paper asked if it meant ‘folk music in America?’). It now is a part of British law, in the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998, monitored and implemented by the Public Concern at Work charity. When Scotland Yard Detective Chief Inspector April Casburn was charged with misconduct for unauthorised disclosure of official information about voicemail ‘hacking’, her (unsuccessful) defence was that she was ‘whistle-blowing’ about the diversion of police officers from counterterrorism to invest­gating unauthorised access to the voicemails of celebrities. The requirement of anonymous hotlines by the US Sarbanes-Oxley Act (Sox) for the EU subsidiaries of US companies has created problems in countries such as France, where the deep suspicion of anonymous denunciations goes back to the Terror, reinforced by the Nazi Occupation.

While whistle-blowing legislation protects those who volunteer information, money-laundering legislation now requires profes­sionals and others to report on clients whom they should suspect of crimes, including tax evasion. The European Court of Human Rights has recently ruled that a French statute imposing such an obligation on lawyers does not violate the Human Rights Convention. The French law implements the EU Money-Laundering Directive, but with one important difference from the equivalent British statute. 

This is the tenth annual lecture by James Michael, on various subjects relating to information and communication law.

James Michael  is a Senior Associate Research Fellow at IALS.  He has been a consultant to the Council of Europe, European Union and the OSCE, and was special advisor to the House of Lords Select Committee on Freedom of Information. His publications include The Politics of Secrecy (Penguin) and Privacy and Human Rights (Dartmouth and UNESCO).

This event is FREE but those wishing to attend should register in advance.  To register, please use the the automatic form below.

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