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Privileged communication is the legal right that exists, either by statute or common law, to protect a client from having their confidences revealed publicly.
In judicial proceedings, the law allows people to refuse to disclose the contents of certain privileged conversations and writings. Communications between an attorney and client, husband and wife, clergyperson and penitent and doctor and patient are all privileged.
The right of privileged communication—which assumes that a professional cannot disclose confidential information without the client’s consent—originated in British common law, under which no “gentleman” could be required to testify against another individual in court.