In a landmark case decided on 15 March 2013, the Dutch Supreme Court recognised the existence of a general legal privilege for in-house attorneys. On 14 September 2010 the European Court of Justice had refused to accept such a privilege for Dutch in-house attorneys in the context of EU competition law (Akzo Nobel/Commission). According to the ECJ, the employment relationship precludes an in-house attorney from being sufficiently independent to justify granting him/her the privilege. Following that decision, the burning question was whether the Dutch Supreme Court would adopt the same approach for in-house attorneys if they are active in areas of law other than EU competition law. The answer is no: the Supreme Court has now firmly established a legal privilege for in-house attorneys who have been admitted to the bar and comply with requirements guaranteeing their independence.
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