Fees shown to be “neutral information” not subject to solicitor-client privilege
Complaint: The Canadian Wheat Board refused to release the legal fees associated with the termination of an employee, on the grounds that they were protected by solicitor-client privilege.
Investigation: The OIC determined that section 23 did not apply to all the withheld information. Legal fees are “neutral information,” no longer protected by solicitor-client privilege, when it can be shown that privileged information could not be deduced from disclosing them.
Outcome: The institution released the aggregate fees.
Information Commissioner’s position
- Disclosure of the aggregate fees would not reveal privileged communications in this case.
- When aggregate fees constitute “neutral information” they are not privileged.