Saturday, November 10, 2012

High Court orders Quinns to reveal passwords to receiver

Time to reset your password

In an interesting decision the High Court (Kelly J.) yesterday ordered that members of the Quinn family must provide passwords to personal email accounts and other information to a receiver appointed over their assets. The order was made in support of the injunctions already granted aimed at recovering assets following a "mesmerisingly complex" asset-stripping scheme in breach of court orders.

This is significant and may well be the first time an Irish court has made an order requiring a party to civil litigation to reveal their passwords to the other side - while there's extensive caselaw in the related area of electronic discovery, none of the reported cases seem to have required the production of passwords. [Update - the ever knowledgeable Andy Harbison tells me that this isn't in fact the first case where an Irish court has made an order requiring that passwords be disclosed - this has been done in at least one Anton Piller order, though unfortunately there's no reported judgment.]

Given the invasiveness of the procedure - especially the fact that personal emails would be involved - the court built in protections into the order, so that:
[T]he information must only be seen by the receiver and a named solicitor..

The judge approved a protocol proposed by the receiver for obtaining and categorising information from the phones and computers. It involves material being downloaded in the presence of the Quinn defendants by a representative of a company hired by the receiver.
That material will then be categorised by the receiver into three categories -- relevant and not privileged, irrelevant, and apparently privileged. Disputes over privilege issues will be decided by the court.
More details in the Irish Times|Irish Independent.

For the related issue as to whether password disclosure can be compelled in criminal matters see this post from 2010.)

1 comment:

  1. Pity the judge didn't use the classifications used in The Wire, it would make this debacle great for TV