- Labour leaks and a fishing expedition—Norwich Pharmacal relief not available to identify who the defendant ‘reasonably believes’ is a wrongdoer (Oldknow v Evans)
- What are the practical implications of this case?
- What was the background?
- What did the court decide?
- Case details
Dispute Resolution analysis: This case involved an application for an unusual form of Norwich Pharmacal order, which would have required: (a) the identification of individuals ‘reasonably believed’ to be wrongdoers, and (b) provision of a ‘narrative account’ of the alleged wrongdoing with supporting documents. The court held that the Norwich Pharmacal jurisdiction could not be used to obtain that sort of information. A defendant may be required to identify, or provide information identifying, a wrongdoer. A defendant cannot be required to express a subjective view as to whom he or she believes the wrongdoer is. The case is yet another reminder that courts will not grant a Norwich Pharmacal application that is in truth a ‘fishing expedition’. The disclosure sought would not identify the wrongdoer(s), only the most likely candidates. That was not enough. If the respondent to a Norwich Pharmacal application was not able, or likely to be able, to identify the ultimate wrongdoer, the relief must be refused. The fact that innocent individuals might be wrongly be identified would also have provided an independent reason to refuse the application. Written by Andrew Pearson, civil fraud barrister at 7KBW.
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