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Practice & Procedures - Discovery of documents - O. 31, r. 12 of the Rules of the Superior Courts - Damages for personal injuries sustained in the course of employment - Fair disposal of the case

Posted 1/11/2016

Practice & Procedures - Discovery of documents - O. 31, r. 12 of the Rules of the Superior Courts - Damages for personal injuries sustained in the course of employment - Fair disposal of the case  

Facts: The plaintiff sought discovery of certain documents in possession of the defendants under o.31, r.12 of the Rules of the Superior Courts. The plaintiff claimed that those documents were relevant and necessary for the plaintiff’s main claim for personal damages sustained by the plaintiff in the employment with the defendants. The plaintiff claimed for discovery of documents on the basis of the allegations that the defendants did not provide a safe work place to the plaintiff. The plaintiff asserted that he was exposed to hazardous chemicals. The defendants contended that the plaintiff was put on full proof in relation to the duties and obligations alleged to be owned by the defendants and he was never exposed to hazardous chemicals. 
Held: Mr. Justice McDermott made an order for discovery of the documents but to a limited extent. The Court held that in case of an order of discovery of large number of documents, it should be taken into account whether the discovery was necessary for fair disposal of the case. The Court held that there must be proportionality between the extent of volume of the documents to be discovered and the degree to which the documents were likely to advance the plaintiff’s case or damage the defendant’s case. The Court held that it should be taken into account that the order for discovery must not be oppressive to the defendants. The Court held that the discovery of the list of all the chemicals together with the list of safety data information concerning the chemicals and exposure of the plaintiff to dangerous chemicals in the course of his work by his employer were relevant and necessary for the fair disposal of case. The Court held that the discovery of all standard operating procedures for use by personnel relating to “activities” at the concerned workshop was too widely drawn and irrelevant. 
Tobin, Gavin v Minister for Defence and ors 
7/10/2016 No. 2014/691 P [2016] IEHC 547

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