What Does the Term "Private Communication" Mean?

Jan 23, 2024 By Susan Kelly

The law recognizes private and protected relationships between two parties when they engage in privileged communication. The law cannot force the revelation of any information exchanged between the parties.

Even if one of the parties discloses information, there are legal restrictions. Privileged communication can be nullified under certain circumstances. The privileged communication privilege can be surrendered in numerous ways, both purposefully and accidentally.

Using Privileged Communication Methods

Communication between a husband and wife, an accountant and a client, and reporters and their sources in some jurisdictions are also protected under the attorney-client privilege, like chatting with medical experts and religious leaders.

Clients, patients, and penitents have the right to confidentiality in professional contacts. The recipient of the information must maintain the confidentiality of the communication.

What Qualifies as Privileged Communications?

People can legally refuse to reveal the contents of some privileged conversations and writings during legal procedures. A doctor and patient, an attorney and client, a pastor and their parishioner, and a spouse and wife all have private communications. Psychiatrists and their patients, as well as news reporters and their sources, are protected by confidentiality laws in several states.

Privileged Communication Protection: What Qualifies?

If you want to enjoy the benefits of privileged communications, you'll need to keep your communications private (in a context where confidentiality could reasonably be expected). If any communication element is revealed to a third party, the privilege is forfeited (waived).

Effects of Confidential Business Communications

Learn about the implications of privileged communications if you work for a firm that employs professionals. Subpoenas, for example, might be issued to you or other professionals requiring the submission of sensitive information. In this situation, you should speak with the patient or customer immediately to get a sense of their specific desires.

During a divorce, a patient's spouse may want information from you as a psychologist. Be sure to get your patient's consent beforehand. Get permission and double-check to make sure it's crystal clear, then proceed.

A Person's Consent Is Required to Disclose Privileged Communications

The client, but not the lawyer, the patient, the doctor or therapist, the speaking spouse, but not the spoken-to spouse, and the clergyperson and the penitent all have these privileges. Those who have been conversing with a lawyer, doctor, therapist, or spouse cannot share what was said without their permission. They can waive privilege (testify about the chat), but they can also prohibit other people from releasing the information if they choose.

Examples of Privileged Communications

Sue and Martin are divorcing as an example. In the beginning, Martin emptied Sue's joint bank account and transferred the money to a new account in another state. He won't tell Sue, but he has told Ann, his lawyer, where the money is.

A third party may not pry into the communication between Martin and Ann without Martin's express permission, and Ann will not be compelled to reveal Martin's talk with another party.

Privileged Communication Laws: Do They Protect Marital Communications?

Legally protected marital contacts. Courts cannot require spouses to reveal the contents of private messages they exchanged throughout their marriages. The privilege was created to safeguard and foster trust and honesty in marriages.

Privileges accorded to a spouse. It is illegal for courts to force spouses to testify against one another. Even when a former husband attempting to win custody of his child summoned the ex-new wife's husband as a witness to testify about how his ex-wife treated their child, the court ruled that it may imperil an existing marriage.

Example of Privileged Marital Communications?

As a case study, Sandy is a pot brownie entrepreneur who runs the business out of her house. Sandy has informed her spouse, Doug, of her plans. If Sandy is ever arrested for her business, Doug can prohibit Sandy from sharing what he knows about Sandy's business.

Preferential Communication and Legal Services.

A lawyer or legal firm that receives confidential information is prohibited from disclosing it to anybody else. This privilege solely extends to conversations between the lawyer and the client; it does not extend to any other parties.

Certain professions, such as social work and counseling, are exempt from regulations governing the use of privileged communication. It implies that a counselor can't reveal what you've revealed with them to anybody else, even if they are testifying in court under oath.


The communication of secret information between a professional and their customer is known as Privileged Communication. You should be aware that professionals cannot legally communicate any private communication with anybody else unless they are also members of the team or have been specifically given authorization by both sides. This implies that you don't have to worry about your therapist, doctor, lawyer, or any other professional revealing anything else you said without your permission beforehand. Let us know if this has answered many of your issues about privilege communications or if there is anything else we can do for you!

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