In litigation, it is common for the court to order the production of documents by the parties to the case. Failing to comply with such orders is unwise, as the court has the power to strike out (i.e. refuse to hear) a case unless the documents are produced. Where this occurs, the party which has failed to supply the relevant documents can apply for ‘relief’ from the order for their case to be struck out, if they feel the order was not justified.
There are several criteria the court will apply when considering an application for relief. These include considering whether the administration of justice will be served, whether the failure to supply the requested information was intentional and the extent to which the person has complied with other requests, orders etc.
However, the courts do tend to take a very robust attitude regarding such failures. In a recent case, a director of a company in liquidation applied for relief after an order was made that he must comply with requests for documents or lose his right to defend himself against charges of breaching his fiduciary duty to the company. The Court of Appeal ruled that the director’s non-compliance was serious and persistent and rejected the argument that it was relevant that he had a good chance of defending the claim. Without a material change in his circumstances or a legitimate reason for non-compliance, the original sanction had to stand.
Says <<CONTACT DETAILS>>, “When disclosure of documents is required by the court, the demand must be treated seriously. Ultimately, failing to comply with the court’s rulings can result in your case simply being rejected.”
Tarn Insurance Services Limited (In Administration) v Kirby and Others  EWCA Civ 19.