Davies v Welch: Admn 4 Nov 2010

The applicant sought the committal of the respondent for contempt. The defendant, a solicitor had acted for the claimant’s wife in ancillary relief proceedings. He complained that documents sent to her under implied undertakings of confidentiality within those proceedings had been sent to the Child Support Agency. The defendant admitted the act, saying that it was unwitting and had apologised.
Held: The information could have been (but was not) lawfully demanded by the Agency, and subsequent changes in legislation would mean that the defendant’s behaviour would not now be a contempt. Had she applied for leave, the court’s almost inevitable decision would have been for disclosure, and ‘this is plainly not a case calling for the committal order sought by Mr Davies. Indeed, in my judgment, it calls for no order at all, subject to consideration of the issue of costs. Mrs Welch acted in contempt of court through an oversight; it was an oversight which should not have occurred, given her professional knowledge and responsibilities, but the breach was not a serious one. This was a committed family solicitor who acted in good faith and for purposes which she considered to be entirely proper.’
Richards LJ, Cranston J
[2010] EWHC 3034 (Admin), [2011] Fam Law 136, [2011] 1 FLR 1241
Child Support Act 1991 49B, Family Proceedings Rules 10.21A
England and Wales
CitedGelber v Griffin FD 22-Nov-2006
Complaint was made that a party had disclosed confidential material received through disclosure to a third party.
Held: There was an implied duty of confidence arising in the disclosure process. . .
CitedAllan v Clibbery (1) CA 30-Jan-2002
Save in cases involving children and ancillary and other situations requiring it, cases in the family division were not inherently private. The appellant failed to obtain an order that details of an action under the section should not be disclosed . .

These lists may be incomplete.
Updated: 15 April 2021; Ref: scu.427010