The Discovery Process In Ireland

Author:Ms Lea Devitt
Profession:Dillon Eustace
 
FREE EXCERPT
  1. The purpose of Discovery

    "The Discovery process compels pre-trial disclosure in

    civil proceedings of relevant documents in the possession or

    control of another party, or occasionally a non-party".

    [Civil Procedure in the Superior Courts, Delaney and McGrath,

    Roundhall Sweet and Maxwell, 2001 ].

    The most significant purpose of discovery was set out

    recently by Justice Geoghegan in the Supreme Court where he

    indicated that the discovery process was not to enable the

    settlement of a case but to provide a party with the necessary

    ammunition to fight a case. Marie Taylor .v. Clonmel Healthcare

    Limited [ 2004 1 IR 169 ].

  2. When can an Application for Discovery be

    made?

    An application for discovery can be made when the pleadings

    have been exchanged in a case. i.e. after the Statement of

    Claim and Defence have been served. Order 31, rule 12(4)(4)

    provides that an application for discovery to the courts shall

    not be made later than 28 days after the case has been listed

    for trial.

    If discovery cannot be made voluntarily, an application for

    discovery can be made to the Master of the High Court, which is

    the court of first instance in all applications in the High

    Court. Decisions of the Master can be appealed to the High

    Court and then to the Supreme Court.

  3. The Rules of Discovery

    The rules of discovery are set out in Order 31, Rule 12 of

    the Rules of the Superior Courts. Amendments have been made to

    Order 31, Rule 12 which were implemented by Statutory

    Instrument 233 of 1999: Rules of the Superior Courts ( No. 2 )

    ( Discovery ), 1999, which came into effect on the 3rd August

    1999 ("the New Rules"). The amendments to the rules

    were motivated by the desire to discourage very general

    requests for discovery or ' fishing expeditions', which

    had resulted in time wastage and unnecessary costs for parties

    engaged in litigation.

    Under the New Rules, an application for discovery must

    comply with the following requirements:-

    A written application seeking voluntary discovery is

    required which must specify the precise category of documents

    sought and which must furnish the reasons why each category

    of documents is required to be discovered. Ref: 4, Order 31,

    Rule 12 (4) (1) (a).

    The Notice of Motion must specify the precise categories

    of documents in respect of which discovery is sought. Ref: 5,

    Order 31, Rule 12 Section 1 (1)

    The Grounding Affidavit must verify that the documents

    sought are necessary for disposing fairly of the cause or

    matter or for saving...

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