Use of Publicly Available information vs Legal Privilege.

Glencore is taking the ATO to the High Court to stop it using stolen information.

In 2016 a German newspaper obtained over 13 million stolen papers which originated mostly from a hacked law firm – Appleby. The papers are known as the Paradise Papers.

Understandingly the papers contained confidential information involving legal matters which should, ordinarily, be protected by legal professional privilege.

The papers have now found their way to the ATO who is pursuing Glencore for unpaid taxes. Glencore is understandably not too happy about that given that the documents firstly, are stolen and secondly should be protected by legal professional privilege and is taking the ATO to the High Court in a bid to stop it using the information within the papers.

Whilst the source of the papers is known, the veracity of them is not. The chain of evidence is not clean.

Our tax office has not only obtained stolen papers but is relying on their contents in the face of legal privilege.

The legal profession cannot allow this to occur. The confidentiality of our clients and legal privilege must be protected. To allow any reliance on stolen and unproven material sets a very dangerous precedent in the face of the looming cyber threats faced by law firms. The facts are that most if not all law firms will be hacked at some point. If the ATO can rely on stolen information then what is to stop others relying on stolen information including adversaries in Court. If the ATO is pursuing Glencore over unpaid taxes based on stolen information then who else will it pursue?

If someone has your stolen information and you want to stop them using it or would like to know more about Information Security, give EAGLEGATE a call.

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