How can I invoke privilege for email communications when negotiating items with the other side's attorney?
Can I ask the other attorney to agree that it would be privileged before I negotiate? To be sure it is privileged do I get his agreement in writing or is email good enough? I don't want the negotiations via email to end up at our court hearing.
It is wrong to assume that written settlement communications you have with opposing counsel are privileged. It is not. So, your attempt to claim a privilege that does not exist is futile. However, nothing stated in settlement discussions (written or otherwise) can be admitted to prove liability or to prove the invalidity of plaintiff’s claim.
If you chose to be cautions, you can label any written communication which contains settlement terms or discussions (via email or otherwise): Confidential Settlement Negotiation (or similar), Evidence Code sections 1152, 1154. That will highlight the fact that you view the communication inadmissible to prove liability. Still the communication could be admitted for other purposes, either in total or part.
I am licensed in California only and my answers on Avvo assume California law. Answers provided by me are for... more
I am licensed in California only and my answers on Avvo assume California law. Answers provided by me are for general information only. They are not legal advice or counsel. Answers must not be relied upon. Legal advice and counsel must be based on the interplay between specific exact facts and the law. This forum does not allow for the discussion of that interplay. My answer to any specific question would likely be different if that interplay were explored during an attorney-client relationship. I provide legal advice and counsel during the course of an attorney-client relationship only. The exchange of information through this forum does not establish such a relationship. That relationship is established only by personal and direct consultation with me followed by the execution of a written attorney-client agreement signed by each of us. The communications on this website are not privileged or confidential and I assume no duty to anyone by my participation on Avvo or because I have answered or commented on a question. All legal proceedings involve deadlines and time limiting statutes. So that legal rights are not lost for failure to timely take appropriate action and because I do not provide legal advice or counsel in answer to any question, if you are an interested party you should promptly and personally consult with an attorney for advice and counsel. Also, see Avvo's terms and conditions of use, specifically item 9, incorporated by this reference
There would be no privilege, but settlement discussions are not admissible at trial, so just label your emails as settlement discussions and then if opposing counsel tries to use it against you, you can object.
Mr. Daymude is correct. If your communications are an attempt to settle a matter, mark the email clearly as "Settlement Negotiations" so that you and the court later can easily know that the particular email was part of the negotiations. Then move to exclude any of the communication at that time.
No agreement is required to invoke the right to exclude the settlement communications at the time of trial.
Good luck to you.
This answer should not be construed to create any attorney-client relationship. Such a relationship can be formed... more
This answer should not be construed to create any attorney-client relationship. Such a relationship can be formed only through the mutual execution of an attorney-client agreement. The answer given is based on the extremely limited facts provided and the proper course of action might change significantly with the introduction of other facts. All who read this answer should not rely on the answer to govern their conduct. Please seek the advice of competent counsel after disclosing all facts to that attorney. This answer is intended for California residents only. The answering party is only licensed to practice in the State of California.