Examining the Documents

Last Reviewed: April 2022 Reviewed by: JES Download

Form 20 requires you to set out the location and time that the documents you have listed (other than the privileged documents) can be inspected.

Put all the documents (except any privileged documents) in a convenient file or three- ring binder and keep them available. The other parties are entitled to come and look at the documents and can ask you to have copies of all or certain documents made for them. You are entitled to do the same. When you go to review the other party’s documents, make a list of any documents you think are important to your case and get copies made for your files.

Copies of documents can be made upon payment to the other party, in advance, of photocopying fees (see Rule 9-1(13)).

Often now people agree to exchange electronic versions of documents. You may agree to scan all of your documents and put them on a CD. This is potentially a way to save money, as photocopying can get quite expensive.


Use of Documents

Do not use documents received in discovery for any purpose other than the litigation.

All the parties to in a family law case are required to use the documents that are produced through the discovery process (including copies of records, transcripts of examinations for discovery, and answers to interrogatories) only for the proper purposes of the proceeding.

This is called the “implied undertaking” rule of confidentiality. This means you cannot obtain documents from another party, then turn around and try to use them in another proceeding. You cannot share them with people outside the litigation.

There are only two exceptions to this:

  1. Where a party has obtained permission from the court to use the document for a different purpose
  2. Where the owner of the document has consented to the document being used for another purpose.

This obligation is to the court, and if you fail to meet it (for example, by circulating documents to people outside the case or by using documents from a particular proceeding for a different case) you can be held in contempt of court, which has serious consequences, including even potentially jail.


Legal Advice

The law relating to the disclosure of documents can be complicated. For that reason, you may wish to consult a lawyer to make sure that you are disclosing all the documents you should disclose and you are not disclosing documents you should not.

For more information on finding a lawyer to help with your case, see Family Law Guidebook - Free and Low-Cost Legal Help to Divorce in BC.

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