L (T) v L (v)
1999 WJSC-CC 4431
THE CIRCUIT FAMILY COURT
COUNTY OF THE CITY OF DUBLIN
M (S) & M (M) V M (G)
HERSHMAN & MCFARLANE CHILDREN: LAW & PRACTICE SECTION D PARA 1392 A
BARKING & DAGENHAM LONDON BOROUGH COUNCIL V O & ANOR 1993 4 AER 59
R (A MINOR) (DISCLOSURE OF PRIVILEGED MATERIAL), IN RE 1993 4 AER 702
A (MINORS: DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL), IN RE
E, IN RE 1984 1 AER 289
OXFORDSHIRE CO COUNCIL V M & ANOR 1994 2 AER 269
ESSEX CO COUNCIL V R
D H (A MINOR) (CHILD ABUSE), IN RE
GUARDIANSHIP OF INFANTS ACT 1964 S3
MURPHY V KIRWAN
ADOPTION ACT 1976 S8
CHILDREN ACT 1989 S1 UK
CHILDREN ACT 1989 S1(1) UK
CHILDREN ACT 1989 S31 UK
JUDICIAL SEPARATION & FAMILY LAW REFORM ACT 1989 S16(g)
Words & Phrases:
In these proceedings, the Applicant seeks a decree of judicial separation from the Respondent husband, together with a number of ancillary Orders regarding inter alia the custody of the children, periodic and lump sum maintenance and a division of the family property.
The parties were married on 11 September 1976 and they have two children born 11 November 1979 and 27 July 1980. The wife is qualified both as a pharmacist and as a barrister-at-law; the husband is a general practitioner in the County Wexford area. The family home is at Dornsland, Ballygarrott, Kilmuckridge, Co. Wexford, and the parties also own an apartment at 19 Hibernia, De Vesci Court, Monkstown, Co. Dublin. The family property also includes two surgery buildings.
The wife's proceedings were issued on 11 February 1994 and were listed for hearing before this court on 15 November 1994. On 28 June 1994 an Order and cross-Order for Discovery were made. These Orders were in general terms and were to cover the previous three year period. The Respondent's answer and counterclaim was filed on 20 July 1994. The wife's Affidavit of Discovery was sworn on 21 September 1994 and the husband's on 13 October 1994.
On 24 October 1994 and on 7 November 1994 the matter came before this court by way of a Motion brought by the Applicant wife seeking to strike out the Respondent's answer and counterclaim by reason of his failure to comply with the Order for Discovery. This Motion was issued on 5 October 1994 and by the time it was listed for hearing, the Respondent had in fact filed his Affidavit of Discovery. However, Counsel for the Applicant submitted that there were a number of items missing from the Respondent's Discovery including in particular a "blue book" or diary which, it was alleged, contained financial information concerning the Respondent's private medical practice. On 7 November, Counsel informed the court that most of the outstanding items had been dealt with but no discovery of the "blue book" had been made. Counsel for the Respondent submitted that no diary of the type alleged existed. She produced in court pocket diaries for 1993 and 1994. She argued that most of the material in these diaries consisted of notes made at the suggestion of the Respondent's solicitor with a view to instructing the said solicitor and as such were covered by legal professional privilege. Counsel for the Applicant, Mr. Durcan, submitted that such notes in the diary were not specifically documents of instructions to solicitor and counsel and were thus not covered by legal professional privilege. In the alternative, he argued that where documents contained matters relevant to the welfare of children, legal professional privilege should not be applied to them and they should be disclosed. In making this argument, Mr. Durcan relied on a number of English cases referred to in detail below.
As a method of procedure, Counsel agreed that I should read the diaries in question with a view to deciding
(a) whether the matters contained therein were relevant to the proceedings, and
(b) whether any relevant matters were to be covered by legal professional privilege.
I have accordingly read both the diaries. On November, on account of the urgency of the matter, the case being listed for hearing on 15 November, I gave an oral ruling in the matter. Owing to the importance of the issues involved in regard to legal professional privilege and the welfare of children, I informed Counsel that I would set out the reasons for my decision in written form.
On my reading of the Respondent's pocket diaries for 1993 and 1994, it appears to me that a considerable amount of the matters noted therein is relevant to the present proceedings and therefore I must consider whether these matters should be discovered or whether they are covered by legal professional privilege. The relevant notes in the diaries fall into two categories. The first category consists of some sparse notes made from time to time of what appear to be fees received from private patients. It is clear that this material is proper for discovery and I am accordingly providing Counsel for both parties with a list of the pages in the 1993 diary on which this type of note appears and these pages are to be discovered by the provision of photocopies of the relevant pages to the Applicant's solicitor. None of this type of material appears in the 1994 diary.
The second category of material - contained in the 1994 diary - consists of day to day notes concerning the parties and their children. It should be noted that these entries do not occur until after the issue of the Applicant's proceedings on 11 February 1994.
Most solicitors and Counsel who regularly practise in the field of family law will be familiar with the advice which is frequently given to matrimonial litigants to keep careful notes of current developments and happenings, both as they affect the parties, and more importantly, as they affect the children. These notes are made for the specific purpose of instructing solicitor and Counsel and as preparation for the trial of the action.
On reading the Respondent's 1994 diary, I felt strongly that the material therein was of this nature and I would accept the submission of Ms. Clissmann on behalf of the Respondent that the diary was prepared for the purpose of litigation and thus would, in the normal way, fall to be covered by legal professional privilege.
I must therefore go on to consider the submission made by Mr. Durcan on behalf of the Applicant that where documents contain matters relevant to the welfare...
To continue readingREQUEST YOUR TRIAL