Southern California Gas Company

50 Cal. 3d 31 (1990), 784 P.2d 1373

The Court reversed a Commission decision ordering Southern California Gas Company to disclose the contents of an opinion of counsel regarding the enforceability of gas supply contracts.  The Court concluded that the attorney/client privilege applies to Commission proceedings.  (The Court’s analysis suggests that other provisions of the Evidence Code do not.)  The Court also held that the Commission exceeded its authority by ruling that the company had, by implication, waived its attorney/client privilege.  Notably, the Court concluded that when Legislature enacted Section 582 and other statutes vesting the Commission with broad investigatory powers, the Legislature assumed those powers would still be limited by the attorney-client privilege. In May of 2017, the California Supreme Court remanded to the Commission a matter in which the attorney-client privilege and the Public Records Act were alleged to be in conflict.  The Court had held the matter in abeyance pending its consideration of the issue in another proceeding.  Following the decision in that matter, Los Angeles County Bd. of Supervisors v. Superior Court, 2 Cal. 5th 282, the Commission issued an order concluding that certain legal invoices  were subject to the attorney-client privilege.

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