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Q&A: What Is the Difference Between "Privileged" Communications and "Confidential" Communications?

What is the difference between "privileged" communications and "confidential" communications?

The concepts of privilege and confidentiality are often confused. The "clergy-penitent privilege" is a rule of evidence that protects clergy from having to testify in judicial proceedings about communications made to them in confidence while acting in their professional capacity as spiritual advisors. The important point to note is that privileges pertain to testimony in judicial proceedings, including court-room testimony and depositions. "Confidentiality" is a much broader concept, and refers to a duty not to disclose to anyone the substance of communications shared in confidence. Confidentiality is distinguished from privilege in two ways. First, the duty of confidentiality is not limited to judicial proceedings. Second, it is an ethical rather than a legal ...

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