The First Department, reversing Supreme Court, determined communications between plaintiffs’ financial advisor (KDC) and plaintiffs’ counsel in connection with the sale of plaintiffs’ company to defendant were privileged:
It is true that KDC was not retained to assist plaintiffs’ counsel in providing legal advice. However, the unrebutted evidence reflects that KDC spent some portion of its time helping counsel to understand various aspects of the transaction for that purpose. As such, KDC’s presence was necessary to enable attorney-client communication … .
Plaintiffs also had a reasonable expectation that the confidentiality of communications between their counsel and KDC would be maintained. Plaintiffs’ counsel attested that KDC promised to keep all such communications confidential. The governing Purchase and Sale Agreement also specified that all privileged documents related to the transaction would remain protected from disclosure to defendant even after closing … .
Contrary to defendant’s contention, the Cooperation Clause in KDC’s engagement letter did not undermine the reasonableness of this expectation of confidentiality, as it only required “reasonabl[e]” assistance to the Company (now owned by defendant), and should thus not be read to require KDC to turn over privileged documents … . Spicer v GardaWorld Consulting (UK) Ltd., 2020 NY Slip Op 01448, First Dept 3-3-20