Some of us (not me) may have been on a fishing expedition during our summer holidays. Those memories will begin to fade as the wheels of business start turning for 2015. However, one thing you should remember that it’s not a good idea to go fishing in the Supreme Court of NSW. McDougall J, in his own inimitable style, made his views on the topic very clear in New Price Retail Services v David Hanna [2012] NSWSC 422:

“[9] In each case, leaving aside differences to account for the differing parties to whom the subpoeana was addressed, what is required is production of:

“All original and copies of any documentation in relation to your duties as the receiver and manager of the property of Kim Ngo and all other documents, including correspondence, draft documents, file notes, and memoranda relating to, concerning or touching upon, any such duties as a receiver and manager”.

[10] It may be possible to conceive of a subpoena drafted in wider terms, but I do not propose to take up time by attempting to meet that challenge.

His Honour continued:

“[16] Mr Hanna’s solicitor set out a number of suggested bases of relevance for the documents, in an affidavit sworn on 15 February 2012. I do not propose to go through those suggested grounds in detail. In my mind, they do no more than confirm that Mr Hanna is using the subpoena process to go fishing in an enormous pool of documents to see if some minnow, or, for that matter, pike, may be attracted. That is not, in my view, a legitimate use of a subpoena.”

Thanks go to Luke Fermanis of my chambers for providing me with this blogworthy case.

Creative commons acknowledgement for the photograph.

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