confidential communication

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Confidential communication involves statements (oral, written, or nonverbal) made in confidence between two people who have trust in each other and believe that the communication will be kept in confidence. Examples of this kind of communication include conversations between a married couple, a doctor and patient, and an attorney and their client. These conversations are recognized to be private by the law and are protected from disclosure, unless one of the parties waives this protection. 

For this communication to be considered confidential, the conversation must be intended to be private and held in private. If the conversation was had in a public place where others could overhear it, the conversation wouldn’t be considered protected. 

In some circumstances, a party in the conversation can waive this privilege and disclose what was discussed. In a few states, both parties in a marriage are given the ability to prevent their spouse from testifying against them and disclosing private conversations, while other states allow the testifying spouse to decide whether they want to disclose the conversation. For attorney client relationships, attorneys are not allowed to disclose private conversations they had with their client. 

[Last updated in August of 2021 by the Wex Definitions Team