Government amendments to the Investigatory Powers Bill do not go far enough to maintain the client’s right to privilege, the Bar Council warned.

Following the final reading of the controversial Bill, the Bar Council said that the ‘client’s right to legal privilege looks permanently to be compromised’, though not as severely as was first feared.

Bar Chairman, Chantal-Aimée Doerries QC, acknowledged that the government had listened to its concerns and made changes to the original provisions to provide ‘some protection’ that is now on the face of the Bill.

But she said: ‘There is still too much scope for a client’s privileged communications deliberately to be targeted and intercepted, and we remain concerned that this fundamental constitutional right has now been diminished.’

The Law Society welcomed the changes, which it said boosted protection for client legal privilege, particularly by giving greater protection to legally privileged material accidentally caught in a legitimate search, and ensuring its retention is subject to a public interest test.

Law Society President, Robert Bourns, said: ‘While these protections are not as comprehensive as the legal community felt was appropriate, the government’s response is still a significant improvement from where the Bill started.’

He added: ‘With the number of moves to weaken the protection of legal professional privilege we have seen this year – both inadvertent and deliberate – the Law Society will remain vigilant to ensure that this core principle of our justice system is maintained.’

The Bar Council said it will continue to work with other legal professional bodies to press for proper protection of privileged communications.