16. Disclosure and Inspection
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Disclosure requires that all parties compile a list of documents that either support or adversely affect their case.
A ‘document’ under CPR 31.4 includes anything in which information is recorded.
All parties must make a reasonable search for such documents.
Disclosure is in line with the overriding objective since all parties will then have the relevant information pre-trial and will be able to assess their position in light of the full facts.
Disclosure merely requires parties to identify and list such documents and not necessarily to make them available for viewing.
Under CPR 31.2, a party discloses a document by stating that the document either exists or has previously existed.
The duty of disclosure continues throughout the duration of the proceedings. Clients should be informed about their duties of disclosure and should be aware that they are expected to preserve relevant documents. In addition, they should bear in mind their obligations of disclosure when creating new documents or obtaining documents in relation to the case from third parties.
Under CPR 31.3 (1) once disclosure has been made, a party can inspect the document unless the document is no longer in their control or they have a right or a duty to withhold inspection of it.
Inspection can also be denied if paragraph (2) applies.
Paragraph (2) states that where a party considers it disproportionate to the issues in the case to allow inspection of particular documents, then inspection is not required. However, it must be stated in the disclosure statement that inspection is not being permitted on these grounds.
CPR 31.6 lists documents that are to be disclosed under standard disclosure.
A party need disclose only:
(a) the documents on which he relies; and
(b) the documents which:
(i) adversely affect his own case;
(ii) adversely affect another party’s case; or
(iii) support another party’s case; and
(c) the documents which he is required to disclose by a relevant practice direction.