(Supreme Court of South Australia – full Court) Appeals against two decisions – Whether legal professional privilege applies to eleven documents discovered by the defendant – if privilege existed whether it had been waived – Whether defendant entitled to injunction restraining the use of the same documents which were already in the plaintiff’s possession on the ground of an equitable obligation of confidence and public interest immunity – Where confidential information in one document had already been disclosed to a third party – Whether the defendant suffered detriment – Whether misapplication of iniquity rule – Whether the documents were the subject of public interest immunity – Discussion of the principles regarding equitable doctrine of restraining use or publication of confidential information.
Held: It is the circumstances by which the person in possession of the confidential information has acquired that possession rather than the circumstances in which the information was imparted to the initial recipient that is the relevant consideration in considering whether there was a breach of confidence – No conditions of confidentiality attached to disclosure of 10 of the documents – Recipient unaware a mistake had been made if the confidential information had been disclosed unintentionally – No obligation of confidence arose – Unnecessary to consider issues of detriment or application of the iniquity rule – No error by trial judge in failing to find documents subject to public interest immunity – Even if confidentiality had not been lost, trial judge correct to find waiver of privilege – Both appeals allowed for the limited purpose of having the claim of confidentiality with respect to one document remitted to the trial judge for further consideration – Otherwise each appeal dismissed.
The Honourable Chief Justice Doyle, The Honourable Justice Debelle and The Honourable Justice White
(2006) 94 SASR 64,  SASC 42
Cited – Goddard v Nationwide Building Society CA 1986
A solicitor had acted for both purchaser and lender in a purchase transaction. The purchaser later sought to recover from the defendant for a negligent valuation. The solicitor had however discussed the issue with the plaintiff before the purchase, . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.
Commonwealth, Legal Professions, Litigation Practice
Updated: 06 May 2022; Ref: scu.445850