Disclosure is a key phase in litigation. Litigation in England and Wales is carried out ‘cards face up on the table’. Whether you are the Claimant or Defendant you are obliged to provide documents which either support or adversely affect your case.
Importance of disclosure
If you are commencing litigation it is likely any claim you make will rely on certain documents to advance your claim. A list of these documents will be given to your opponent at the disclosure stage of litigation.
If you do not disclose your supporting documents at the disclosure stage you may be unable to rely on them at trial and this may well hinder any chance of success.
Not only are you obliged to provide documents that you rely on but also which adversely affect your case or support another party’s case. If a person makes or cause to be made a false disclosure statement without an honest belief in its truth proceedings for contempt of court may be brought against them.
There can also be financial consequences for a party who does not comply with disclosure requirements. In Earles v Barclays Bank Plc the Court ruled that the Defendant who was successful in Defending the claim should only be allowed to recover half of its costs because it failed to conduct disclosure properly.
Also where a party does not disclose a document that harms their case they may find their case struck out if they fail to comply with an order for specific disclosure.
What is a document
The meaning of the word ‘document’ is interpreted very widely by the court in the context of disclosure. A ‘document’ is anything in which information of any description is recorded. ‘Documents’ therefore include written documents, audio recordings, videos and photographs. It also includes electronic documents such as e-mails, word-processed documents and databases.
Accordingly, you may have to provide your solicitor with a vast amount of documents. Our solicitors ensure that the relevant documents are identified at an early stage so that you the necessary time to gather and provide the documents.
Disclosure is an important part of litigation and it is imperative that the relevant documents are identified by your solicitor at the outset of a matter. Failure to disclose key documents can be terminal to your case.
The above only touches on a few aspects of disclosure as it can be a complex and time-consuming phase of litigation. At TV Edwards our dispute resolution solicitors are well versed to deal with all aspects of litigation and alternative dispute resolution. If you would like to find out about our services more generally, please contact our Dispute Resolution team at TV Edwards Solicitors LLP.