Family Law Hub

Disclosure

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  • Three applications were before the court: the wife's application for disclosure from the eighth and ninth respondents, in support of her claims under section 423 of the Insolvency Act 1986 and section 37 of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973; an application by five respondents to be released from their obligations under previous orders; and an application by the eighth and ninth respondents for a case management stay of the proceedings pending the outcome of proceedings in Liechtenstein. Knowles J found that the orders for disclosure directed at the eighth and ninth respondents were necessary to justly and fairly determine the wife's properly brought claim, even though those orders might be contrary to civil and criminal law in Liechtenstein. The risk of prosecution in Liechtenstein was little more than purely hypothetical. The absence of the material in question would very substantially interfere with the wife's ability to pursue her claim and would hamper the court's ability to determine the proceedings fairly. Knowles J refused the application to set aside and vary the previous orders, and refused the application for a stay of the proceedings. Judgment, 17/08/2020, free
  • The mother and the Secretary of State for the Home Department brought appeals against an order for disclosure, in private family proceedings, of redacted copies of certain documents in her asylum file, to the solicitors acting for the father and the son. In Baker LJ's view, it was clear that MacDonald J had correctly identified the applicable principles of law in his first judgment and in the second had applied them in a way which was fully within his discretion and could not be successfully challenged in the Court of Appeal. His conduct of the balancing exercise required had been "unimpeachable". Phillips LJ agreed. In Peter Jackson LJ's view, the answer to questions regarding disclosure in similar cases was "not to be found in legal generalities or contestable adjectives but in a close study of the individual circumstances". The judge had reached a decision after careful consideration. Though Peter Jackson LJ had some hesitancy about the outcome, it was not open to the Court of Appeal to say that the judge's decision had been wrong. The appeal was dismissed. Judgment, 04/08/2020, free
  • The husband sought an order for the wife to produce the files of her previous legal advisors. The husband's case was that she had waived the privilege that would normally attach to communications between a client and her legal advisors on three separate occasions, for example when claiming that they had been "frankly incompetent". Cohen J found that the wife had clearly invited the husband "into the consultation room", in claiming that her instructions had been misconstrued or misquoted or not followed. It would be unfair if the husband could not challenge this statement by reference to contemporaneous notes, emails and other communications. The files would be made available to a QC selected by the parties for sifting and, if required, redacting the necessary material. Judgment, 12/07/2020, free
  • In proceedings for the enforcement of an ancillary relief award, the wife had made an application for disclosure by the tenth respondent, her son, to whom she claimed monetary assets had been transferred by the husband, and the son had applied for disclosure of her funding arrangements and various documents upon which she relied. Knowles J concluded that the son's counterclaim should be struck out. He had no entitlement to seek any relief in respect of the wife's funding arrangements and had failed to demonstrate that there were legally recognisable grounds for challenging their legality. It was decided that the son should disclose documents containing receipts of $100,000 or more, and various other requests were also to be answered. As to the son's application for disclosure, it did not breach Article 6 for the wife to hold on to irrelevant documents. The son had no need to see documents which the wife's solicitors were satisfied did not contain any personal or financial information relating to him. The son also made an application, unsupported by any witness statement, for a reporting restriction order, with the goal of preventing his personal finances from being made public. The case had generated a good deal of media interest. Knowles J decided that the draft order as it stood would inhibit responsible reporting of the proceedings, but he was persuaded that there should be an order to prevent the son's address and other personal information being included in reports. Judgment, 13/06/2020, free
  • Private law family proceedings between the mother and father were ongoing, regarding the welfare of their eight-year-old son. This hearing concerned the disclosure and inspection of documentation from the mother's successful asylum claim, in which she had alleged domestic and sexual abuse on the part of the father. MacDonald J ordered that several of those documents should be disclosed, with some redaction, as being relevant to its fact-finding process. The father had the right to a fair trial under Article 6 of the European Convention of Human Rights, and his Article 8 rights were also engaged. The same was true of the child's Article 6 and 8 rights. It was plainly in the child's best interests for decisions as to his welfare to be taken on a fully informed basis. This required that the court had before it all of the evidence relevant to determining that issue. However, MacDonald J stressed that this decision did not signal any change in the general approach to disclosure into family proceedings of asylum documentation. Rather, this was the application of settled legal principles to the very particular facts of this case. Judgment, 11/05/2020, free

Latest know-how

  • In a tweet: Disclosure of husband's confidential documents ordered from copies held by wife's lawyers. Case note, 18/10/2019, members only
  • In a tweet: The courts’ poor service - which had effectively forced the parties into arbitration – did not dilute the magnetic importance of the arbitration agreement. Case note, 04/07/2019, members only
  • Florence Jones, Pupil, 1 Hare Court, writes a case summary of Vilinova v Vilinov & Anor [2019] EWHC 1107 (Fam). Case note, 31/05/2019, members only
  • In a tweet: Adverse inferences made against H resulted in an award that gave him £160K and his undisclosed assets and W £1.4million Case note, 26/10/2018, members only
  • In a tweet: Debts were a fiction created by H to defeat W’s claims Case note, 26/10/2018, members only

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