A legal opinion (or opinion letter) is a verbal or written objective interpretation or analysis of a legal position by a professional legal practitioner which is intended to be relied on by the person to whom it is addressed. In other words, a legal opinion is the opinion of a particular legal practitioner about the application of the law to a particular set of facts and usually contains conclusions or recommendations. A legal opinion is defined in the dictionary to mean “a statement of advice by an expert on a professional matter.”
How you benefit
What is the purpose of an opinion? You must be clear on why you want a legal opinion. Is it for you to:
- know the legal effect of a transaction or matter,
- identify legal risks that you should consider further and manage,
- prove to a regulator that you have been responsible in how you have applied the law,
- back up your argument,
- prove to a customer that your offering is lawful,
- convince someone to do something,
- be able to defend your organisation in the future.
Characteristics of good legal opinions
A good opinion is practical, specific, backed up with legal theory, and recommends action.
Good opinions are practical and written in plain language. We do not write academic papers that are difficult to take action on. We always provide an executive summary with a short clear answer. The details follow in the body of the opinion. When we draft legal opinions we set out the facts, the relevant law, and then we apply the law to the facts. We also usually give you a list of decision or actions you can take based on our legal opinion. We strive to answer your question and provide you with practical advice that you can use to take meaningful informed action. Opinions should be an objective analysis and not subjective.
How we can help you
We can give you our legal opinion or we can facilitate you obtaining a legal opinion from counsel. We believe our opinions are practical and enable you to make good decisions and follow the right course of action. An opinion is not the same as legal advice. This is the process of getting a legal opinion:
- It is key to make sure you identify the question on which you require the legal opinion. This can be harder than it appears and we can work with you to achieve this.
- We then give you a quote for the opinion.
- If you give us the go ahead, we’ll ask for all the relevant facts.
- We’ll then conduct the research, formate our opinion and the draft the opinion.
We have given many legal opinions over the years.
Data protection legal opinions and interpretations
We have provided many opinions on privacy, data protection and the protection of personal information. It is our opinion on what an authority, regulator or a court may rule on any point of law. Sometimes we provide interpretations (rather than opinions) because there is currently no precedent. An interpretation gives you a way that you could interpret the law (or apply the principles to your activities). Essentially, an argument you could use to explain to someone why you believe what you are doing complies with data protection law. We have covered various questions or points, including:
- who falls within the definition of a customer,
- when a transfer to another country is lawful,
- whether a product or service is lawful,
- many related to direct marketing,
- the application of data protection law – when and to what does it apply,
- automated decision making,
- automatic calling machines,
- special personal information,
- trade union membership, and
- many others.
Members of the Michalsons data protection programme can read more about opinions in the context of data protection.
Legal opinions on various points of law
We have also given written opinions on:
- Automatic and electronic processes
- Data messages (like email and SMS)
- Document imaging
- Domain names
- Electronic signatures
- Interactive Gaming and Foreign Lotteries
- Recording conversations without consent
Our clients to whom we have provided opinions include a wide variety of organisations.