A lawyer can effectively defend his or her client only if the client may consult with the lawyer in confidence. Solicitor-client privilege protects legal advice communications between client and lawyer that were intended to be confidential by the parties and that did not have the purpose of furthering unlawful conduct. This privilege exists the moment a client, or potential client, seeks legal advice from a lawyer. It protects the client from having to divulge, either inside or outside the courtroom, the information they gave to their lawyer and the advice they received from their lawyer.
Flowing from solicitor-client privilege is the lawyer’s strict duty of confidentiality toward his or her client, which extends to all the information the lawyer acquires while working for the client, no matter the source of the information or its status before it became part of the lawyer-client relationship.
Solicitor-client privilege is virtually sacrosanct in Canadian law. Where a client has not waived this privilege, the only exceptions to it occur when violating it is necessary to guard public safety or protect the right to make full answer and defence.