Disclosure is a material issue in many family law cases. Without a clear idea of each party’s assets, a fair division of property is nearly impossible. However, there are clear limits to what the courts are willing to grant in an order for disclosure. In general, an applicant must specify which individual documents or category of documents they are requesting, link their request to a live issue in the proceedings, and justify the need for the disclosure of these documents (Mossey v. Argue, 2013 BCSC 2078).
In a recent case, Etemadi v Maali, 2021 BCSC 1003, one of the parties applied for an order to force disclosure of a hard drive. A hard drive was found to have the same legal status as a bookshelf or a filing cabinet; to grant an application for disclosure of a hard drive would amount to an authorization to search, which is not in keeping with the purpose of the disclosure rules. The court, therefore, declined to grant the order for production, stating that the interest of protecting privacy and privilege outweighed the desirability of absolute disclosure in this case.