Friday, 20 August 2010

Confidentiality in divorce proceedings

Confidential information takes many different forms, but it usually makes no difference whether the information concerned is a trade secret or something private. Prince Albert v Strange is still a case of fundamental importance in this area. In Tchenguiz v Imerman [2010] EWCA Civ 908 it was personal financial information. The defendants, whom the Master of the Rolls, Lord Neuberger, described (in the judgment of the Court) using the wonderful phrase as being "in a substantial way of business", shared an office with the claimant, their brother-in-law, who was divorcing their sister, each of whom he described as "independently rich". They thought they might protect her interests by extracting information from the computer system in the shared office. It was not only the premises that were shared: it was also the server, and the most important practical lesson from this case is that this isn't a great arrangement.
The Court of Appeal held that the information had been obtained in breach of confidence, and the information could not be retained and used in the divorce proceedings. As for confidentiality between husband and wife:
The notion that a husband cannot enjoy rights of confidence as against his wife in respect of information which would otherwise be confidential as against her if they were not married, seems to us to be simply unsustainable. The idea that a husband and a wife should be regarded as a single unit in law was a fiction which the law has been abandoning for a long time.
The correct thing to do would have been for the wife to get an Anton Pillar order, enabling a search to be carried out, although the Court noted that such an order was almost - perhaps completely - unheard of in the Family Division.

No comments:


blogger templates | Make Money Online