On 26 July 2017 the German Constitutional Court ordered (2 BvR 1287/17, 2 BvR 1405/17, 2 BvR 1562/17, 2 BvR 1583/17) a restraint on the use of law firm seizures. The Court held that Munich Prosecutors could – for the time being – not assess the material they had seized in the course of a dawn raid at a law firm’s office.
When raiding the law firm, Prosecutors were purportedly searching for information that stemmed from internal investigations, which had previously been conducted by the law firm for its client. Both the law firm and its client filed a complaint with Munich District Court. They filed for a restraint order on the use of the seizures, arguing that any material stemming from internal investigations would be protected by the German standards of attorney-client confidentiality. Munich District Court rejected the order and the parties’ appeal was equally dismissed.
Raising their complaint to the constitutional forum, the parties contended that attorney-client confidentiality would be undermined if Munich Prosecutors were to retain access to the seized materials while main proceedings on constitutional issues were still pending. As the German law is ambiguous on the precise range of attorney-client confidentiality, the Constitutional Court held that Munich Prosecutors have to suspend evaluating the seized material until the Court will have delivered its final judgment respectively. Until then, any use of the materials seized will be illicit.