The object of discovery of documents is twofold
1. To secure as far as possible the disclosure on oath of all material documents in the possession or power of the opposite party;
2. To put an end to what might otherwise lead to a protracted inquiry as to the material documents actually in possession or power of the opposite party; The general rules relating to discovery are as follows
a. Discovery should be voluntary and automatic i.e. you do not need leave of court to issue interrogatories; it is only when a person refused to give automatic discovery that you approach the court for an order to be issued with discovery.
b. Documents when you give a list of documents it will be treated as if you have given it under oath. However one is not bound to make discovery of privileged document.
CASES FOR APPLICATIONS FOR ORDERS TO MAKE DISCOVERY
Bond v. Thomas - this was an action brought in negligence against the manufacturers of tide. The allegation against them was that people had contracted dermatitis from using the product and the discovery was sought of a list of complaints received from users who have injured by the product. The company object to reproduced the list and the others applied to the court for an order to produce the list, which they refused and went to the court of appeal, which held that discovery was important and the list must be given
CALVET – This was a case brought by a film actress allegedly for libel and malicious falsehood but she did not make a plea for special damage. Discovery was sought of all the documents relating to her income before and after the publication.
MERCHANTS & MANUFACTURERS INSURANCE CO.
This was an action brought to avoid a policy on the ground that the defendant the assured in this case had failed to disclose material facts i.e. that they had been convicted of two motoring offences. The assured person argued that non-disclosure was immaterial and that the insurance company was unjustified in avoiding the policy. The Defendant sought to have discovery of all documents relating to policies where similar convictions exists. The court held that they were irrelevant and discovery should not be allowed because insurers adopt different attitudes to different policyholders.