SDNY Holds No Attorney-Client Privilege Applies to Communications With In-House Legal Department in China

A US District Court in the Southern District of New York recently ordered Bank of China Limited (BOC) to produce thousands of documents that the court found not to be protected by the attorney-client privilege or work-product doctrine. The court analyzed BOC’s claim of privilege under both Chinese and US law and concluded that the subject documents were not entitled to protection under either system of law.

Plaintiffs are relatives of individuals killed or injured in a 2006 suicide bombing in Israel. They sued BOC under the Antiterrorism Act for its alleged role in providing material support to a terrorist organization. The plaintiffs sought documents that had been prepared by BOC’s legal department in China, as well as communications to and from that department. BOC asserted that these documents and communications were protected under the attorney-client privilege and/or work-product doctrine.

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