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05 FEB 2010

How Not to be Liable for Damages to your Client's Spouse: <i>White v Withers</i> and <i>Hildebrand</i>

CHRISTOPHER HAMES, Barrister, 4 Paper Buildings, Temple

The decision of the Court of Appeal in White v Withers and Another [2009] EWCA Civ 1122, raises the spectre of family practitioners being found liable for damages in tort where their client, purportedly complying with the rules set out in Hildebrand v Hildebrand [1992] 1 FLR 244 and T v T (Interception of Documents) 1994 2 FLR 1083 has removed documents - either in paper or electronic form - belonging to their former spouse and handed them over to their legal representatives. The ratio of the decision turns largely on factual issues which in the judgment of all three of the judges entitled the claimant to a full trial. However it is the various and conflicting obiter pronouncements of the court which will cause particular consternation in the minds of family practitioners.

To read the rest of this article, see March [2010] Family Law journal.

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