The Duty of Disclosure
My name is Bruce Provan, I’m the Managing Director of Page Provan Family and Fertility Lawyers, we’re a firm of lawyers in central Brisbane that practices exclusively in family and fertility law. We have three accredited specialists in family law as part of our team.
I want to talk to you today about the duty of disclosure in family law cases. The duty of disclosure is a very important part of the legal system. What it involves in relation to parenting matters is disclosure of all relevant documents and information that are relevant to an issue in the case, and that can include reports from experts.
It might include school reports, medical reports, all that information and what’s very important is that all relevant information is exchanged between the parties and if necessary, put into evidence in court. So, It’s not, for example, possible to rely upon a document once you get to a hearing, any relevant documents have to be exchanged, in other words, disclosed with the other parties early in the proceeding.
In property matters, disclosure is most important because what it involves is disclosure of all relevant documents information relevant to an issue in the case and nowadays, the duty of disclosure not only starts once court proceedings start, it actually applies prior to court proceedings starting.
So if somebody wants to make an application to court and seek property orders, before they even do so, they’re required to contact the other party or their lawyer and to disclose documents.
So that the disclosure process takes place at an early stage with the aim that the matter may be able to be resolved through an negotiations, or alternative dispute resolution, such as mediation, rather than having to proceed to court, because a lot of matters can be resolved without an application to court.
But the duty of disclosure starts at an early stage and continues right up to and including during the hearing, so any information or documents that come into existence during the course of the case have to be disclosed to the other parties or to their lawyers.
If a party doesn’t make full and frank disclosure of their financial circumstances or irrelevant documents or information relating to the case, there can be adverse consequences. The court can impose cost orders upon one of the parties.
The court has the discretion not to allow a document into evidence if it hasn’t been disclosed, and the court can also impose penalties upon a person who hasn’t made full and frank disclosure.
These days in financial applications, a party is required to provide an undertaking as to disclosure prior to the first court date. That’s an undertaking that the person has fully and frankly disclosed all relevant documents information that they have in their possession at that time, up to that point.
So it’s a very important part of the legal system and if one person doesn’t make full and frank disclosure, not only can it lead to it being more difficult to resolve a case, but there can be adverse consequences. It’s important to seek advice from an expert in family law and preferably an accredited specialist in family law about your duty of disclosure.
My name is Bruce Provan, I’m the Managing Director of Page Provan, Family and Fertility Lawyers.