November 12, 2015

Second Circuit Determines That Tax Memo Shared Between Taxpayers and Banks Is Protected Under the Common Interest Doctrine and Subject to Work-Product Protection

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On November 10, 2015, the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit unanimously held in a published opinion that (i) the attorney-client privilege was not waived by appellants-taxpayers who shared a group of documents, including a 58-page tax memorandum, with a consortium of banks having a common legal interest with the taxpayers in the tax treatment of a corporate refinancing and restructuring transaction; and (ii) the work-product doctrine protected documents analyzing the tax treatment of the transaction prepared in anticipation of litigation with the IRS.  Schaeffler, et al., v. United States, No. 14-1965-cv, 2015 US App. LEXIS 19617 (2d Cir. Nov. 10, 2015).  This ruling, which vacated and remanded Magistrate Judge Gabriel Gorenstein’s denial of taxpayers’ petition to quash an IRS summons, is one of the most favorable privilege decisions in years as it clarifies and broadens common interest doctrine protection for communications among accountants, lawyers and bankers who have, or whose clients’ have, a common commercial and legal interest in the tax consequences of a transaction and for parties who are engaged in a “common legal enterprise” with the holder of the privilege.  It also reaffirms Supreme Court and Second Circuit precedent concerning work-product protection for documents created in anticipation of litigation.

View full memo, Second Circuit Determines That Tax Memo Shared Between Taxpayers and Banks Is Protected Under the Common Interest Doctrine and Subject to Work-Product Protection

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