The principle of the lawyer's work is confidentiality


One of the main principles of a lawyer's work is confidentiality. This means that the information provided by the client cannot be transferred to third parties in any case.


The principle is enshrined in law in Article 8 of the Federal Law "On Advocacy". In jurisprudence, it is called attorney-client privilege. It includes any information received in connection with the provision of assistance to the principal. These may include:


- information about the actual circumstances of what happened to the client;

- documents;

- photos;

- audio and video recordings.


The principle of attorney-client privilege applies to the very fact of contacting a lawyer, the names and surnames of the principals. It also applies to items that the client has handed over to the defender.


At the same time, the law does not provide a clear list of information that should be confidential. The above list is the result of an extensive interpretation of the norms of Article 8 of the Federal Law "On Advocacy", which is currently recognized by all Russian courts and law enforcement agencies.


Only the principal himself can release the lawyer from the obligation to comply with the principle.


Responsibility for disclosure of attorney-client privilege


The current Russian legislation does not provide for administrative, criminal or other liability for disclosure of information constituting attorney-client privilege. However, this does not mean that the person who divulged the information received from the principal will remain unpunished. Similar cases are dealt with in professional associations of lawyers – chambers of lawyers of various levels.


If the facts of the transfer of confidential information to third parties are confirmed, disciplinary action is applied to the lawyer. It can be expressed in:


- temporary ban on advocacy;

- deprivation of the status of a lawyer.In both cases, the consequences for the violator are serious. After all, he loses the main source of his income for a long period of time or even forever.


Attorney-client privilege, law enforcement agencies and the court


Operational investigative measures may be carried out against a lawyer, during which law enforcement officers may gain access to confidential information provided by clients. But according to Part 3 of Article 8 of the Federal Law "On Advocacy", even in this case, this information cannot be used as evidence in a criminal case and transferred to third parties.


The only exceptions are cases when the principal provided the lawyer with items prohibited for circulation in the territory of the Russian Federation, for example:


- weapon;

- narcotic and psychotropic substances;

- explosives and toxic substances.


Also, the rule does not apply to items that were used as a weapon of crime.


Administrative or criminal liability is not provided for law enforcement officers for disclosing information that constitutes attorney-client privilege and obtained in the course of their official activities. Here, too, everything is limited to disciplinary punishment. But it can be strict – up to dismissal from the position.


Also, a lawyer cannot be obliged to disclose information that constitutes attorney-client privilege during a preliminary investigation or a court hearing.


What is not a lawyer's secret


According to the Decision of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation dated 24.05.2017 No. AKPI17-103, attorney-client secrecy is not information related to the protection of the interests of the principal, but does not allow him to be identified by other persons.


In particular, these include some details of the warrant or power of attorney, according to which the lawyer works, the date of its compilation and the number. This data must be specified when sending requests to government organizations.


By the date of drawing up and the number of the warrant or power of attorney, it is impossible to understand in whose interests the defender is acting and what his purpose is. Therefore, they cannot be considered confidential information. And therefore, it is possible to provide to third parties. For example, as in the above case – when sending a request.



The main problem of compliance with the principle of "electronic system GAS"Justice". In fact, it provides an unlimited number of persons with access to information that is attorney-client privilege:


- last name, first name and patronymic of the defendant;

- the subject of the dispute or the essence of the accusation;

- some other data.


But none of the information available on GAS «Justice» can be used against the principal. Therefore, it does not harm the latter in any way.


The principle of attorney-client privilege in practice


In practice, confidentiality means that you should not be afraid to seek help from a lawyer and disclose to him information that can harm you. No one will have this information except the defender and his client. Therefore, the occurrence of adverse consequences for the principal and the deterioration of his position are excluded.