Amendments to Uniform Civil Procedure Rules now allow for preliminary disclosure in Queensland

By |2022-06-29T10:45:20+10:006-4-22|

Before commencing court proceedings, it’s necessary for a plaintiff to identify the proper defendant/s and its cause of action. This can sometimes be more difficult than it sounds, if a person has incomplete information or is missing key documents that would assist it in determining if it has a claim against a person, and whether that claim is worth pursuing.

Until recently, there were limited means (at least in the Queensland State Courts) to seek disclosure or additional information from a prospective defendant or other person, prior to commencing proceedings.

In December 2021, amendments were made to the Uniform Civil Procedure Rules to allow potential plaintiffs to seek disclosure of information or documents before commencing proceedings.

These amendments are currently limited to claims that fall within the Supreme Court’s jurisdiction. Upon application, the Court can make an order for preliminary disclosure or that a person give evidence or a document relating to the identity or whereabouts of a prospective defendant. The Court can make an order for preliminary disclosure if it appears to the Court that:

  1. the applicant may have a right to relief against a prospective defendant;
  2. it is impracticable for the applicant to start a proceeding against the prospective defendant without reference to a document;
  3. there is an objective likelihood that the prospective defendant has, or is likely to have, possession or control of the document;
  4. inspection of the document would assist the applicant to make the decision to start the proceeding; and
  5. the interests of justice require the order to be made.

The Court is yet to consider these amendments, given they are only in their infancy. It will be interesting to see how the Court applies these sections, though it’s likely they will be influenced by decisions of other jurisdictions (such as New South Wales), that have allowed pre-litigation disclosure for some time. The amendments will hopefully have the practical effect of encouraging prospective plaintiffs to properly assess the merits of their claim before undertaking (what is often) costly and time-consuming litigation.

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