On October 27, 2015, a Dutch court affirmed an earlier court order that the Dutch government must stop its surveillance of lawyers’ communications until there is independent oversight that can ensure the surveillance does not interfere with clients’ rights.
The Dutch court explained that under the European Convention on Human Rights, individuals have a right to privacy and a right to a fair trial, both of which can be impaired by government surveillance of communications with lawyers.
The court acknowledged that not all lawyer communications deserve legal protection, but said that independent oversight of this surveillance is necessary, drawing a parallel to the protections provided for communications with journalists.
The ruling arose in a lawsuit brought by an Amsterdam human rights law firm, Prakken d'Oliveira, and the Dutch Association of Defense Counsel, seeking a court order that the state stop eavesdropping on confidential conversations between lawyers and their clients.
The protections mandated by this Dutch court order appear to be more robust than those found in the NSA’s “minimization procedures” for lawyer-client communications. The NSA’s limited protections only apply if the client has already been charged with a crime and the lawyer is defending the client on those charges.
See my earlier post here.
See also Press release issued by the Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe, which intervened in the case.
h/t Ben Davis