What if you know someone has (or may have) done you (legal) harm but you don’t know what or who?
There may be instances where you either do not know who to sue or whether you have a proper cause to sue. In such cases, the Law may allow you to seek information from a potential defendant or another party before you issue substantive proceedings.
Discovery or disclosure: you may be able to get a Court order for production of documents that may allow you to determine if you have a case.
Identity discovery: you may be able to obtain information about the identity of a party you may wish to bring action against (for example, learn the identity of a trustee, or a person that defamed you).
In limited instances, you may even be able to compel a potential defendant or party involved in the matter to answer questions that can help establish if you have a case.
These various investigation pathways are fairly unusual, since the Courts are not keen to force information from people or companies that may be entirely innocent of wrongdoing and in any case are not (at least, as yet) subject to substantive legal action.
The Courts are properly even more reluctant to make such orders where the information sought would be very burdensome to provide, or are sought merely to “gild the lily” where sufficient is known by the prospective plaintiff to proceed anyway.
The Courts strive to be fair but flexible and strike a balance where the justice lies. Most civil courts have formal procedural rules governing this area but they can also act based on general equitable principles.
Bear in mind that the process is not open slather and can result in adverse cost orders against you if the Court regards the application as unnecessary, oppressive or inappropriate.
For further information please contact Peter on 8362 6400 or email Peter Jakobsen. Join our mailing list to receive updates and advice on current issues.