Our colleagues at Epstein Becker Green released a client alert: “DC Circuit Strongly Reaffirms the Applicability of the Attorney-Client Privilege to Internal Compliance Investigations,” by George B. Breen, Jonah D. Retzinger, Marshall E. Jackson Jr., and Stuart M. Gerson.
Following is an excerpt:
Especially in the District of Columbia Circuit, the home base for many fraud cases in which the government is opposed to health care providers and defense contractors, there had been considerable doubt that the attorney-client privilege attached to internal compliance investigations, particularly those investigations conducted on governmental mandate by company internal counsel. In a recent victory for companies and effective compliance, the United States Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit squarely removed that doubt in support of the application of privilege.
Reversing the controversial District Court decision in United States ex rel. Barko v. Halliburton Co., 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 36490, 2-3 (D.D.C. Mar. 6, 2014), on June 27, 2014, the DC Circuit handed down its opinion in In re Kellogg Brown & Root, 2014 U.S. App. LEXIS 12115 (D.C. Cir. 2014). The DC Circuit’s holding reinforces the protections established by the Supreme Court 30 years ago in Upjohn Co. v. United States, 449 U.S. 383 (1981), that afford privilege to confidential employee communications made during a corporation’s internal investigation led by company lawyers.