ECHR Case of Golovan v. Ukraine – Seizing fiscal documents entrusted to a lawyer by his client – Incautación de documentos fiscales facilitados a un abogado por su cliente

Application no. 41716/06 – Procedimiento núm. 41716/06 (English)

Relevant doctrine: “52.  In the present case the law-enforcement officers entered the first
applicant’s law office, carried out a search there and seized a number of
contractual, financial and fiscal documents which had been entrusted to the
first applicant by his client.

64.  In the Court’s opinion the domestic law does not provide appropriate
safeguards for the supervision of the search by an independent observer
capable of preventing arbitrary interference with the work of a lawyer.
Neither the Code of Criminal Procedure (see Article 127), nor the Bar Act
contain any qualifications (education, experience, place of employment,
etc.) for the attesting witnesses observing the search in a lawyer’s office.
Nor do such observers have any appropriate means of preventing
arbitrariness in the course of the search. Given such a legislative
background, it is not surprising that in the present case the attesting
witnesses, invited by the police, turned out to be two young students of a
machine building academy without any relevant experience or legal
qualification allowing them to play a role of meaningful guarantor against
arbitrary interference with the material covered by lawyer-client privilege.
They could not even establish that the authorities seized in fact the
documents which had not been covered by the chronological limits fixed in
the search warrant (see paragraphs 11 and 13 above)”.

Trending topic: criminal investigation and lawyer-client privilege

Doctrina: se considera contrario al art. 8 del Convenio Europeo de Derechos Humanos la incautación de documentos fiscales entregados por el cliente a un abogado y custodiados en el despacho propiedad de dicho abogado. Tal actuación sólo hubiera sido legítima si se hubieran adoptado especiales cautelas, como la presencia de un testigo imparcial con una especial cualificación jurídica y con facultades para evitar el quebrantamiento del secreto profesional.

Tendencia: investigación criminal y secreto profesional del abogado

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