What documents do I give to my opponent in civil litigation?

It may be counter-intuitive to give a copy(copies) of documents to your opponent when you are suing them to “defeat” them. But our litigation process dictates parties are not to engage each other in “ambush”. It requires litigants (in some cases – non litigants) to go through a process of called “discovery”. The process compels a party to disclose documents in their possession, custody or power that are directly or indirectly relevant to the matters in dispute unless an exception applies (i.e. protected by professional confidentiality and privilege).

Documents that fall into the realm of discovery include ‘any record of information whether legible by eye or not’.

In the “cloud” age, virtual documents are caught by the breadth of the definition though stored in the “cloud system”. These cloud documents are legible by eyes in as much as the ordinary categories of documents are. Usual types include written notes, tape recordings, accounting records, index records, diaries or appointment books, photographs and other similar paper documents and files.

The documents that you discover must include all relevant documents, even those that could harm your case. If any related documents are omitted from discovery, there are likely to be serious repercussions to you that could damage your case and expose you to liability.

You must seek adequate legal advice in terms of the obligations to give discovery. The rule of thumb is that you bring to the attention of your legal advisor all the documents that you have even if you think it may not be relevant to the issues arising from the proceedings.

Author: Mr Joshua Lee, LLB. LLM. Senior Associate Series 002022020

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