Kerry Underwood


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A Norwich Pharmacal Order requires certain documents to be disclosed, or information given, to the applicant for the order.

Orders are commonly used to identify the proper defendant to an action or to obtain information to plead a claim.

It is an equitable remedy that will only be granted where necessary in the interests of justice.

It is generally not available against someone who is likely to be a party to the potential proceedings, but the respondent to the application must be involved in the potential cause of action, whether innocently or not.

It takes its name from the case of

Norwich Pharmacal Co and Others v Customs and Excise Commissioners [1974] AC133 House of Lords.


Blue Power Group Sarl and others v Eni Norge AS and others [2018] EWHC 3588 (Ch) (20 December 2018)

the Chancery Division of the High Court, on the facts, dismissed an application made by the defendants against the claimants for a Norwich Pharmacal Order in existing proceedings, the purpose of which was to discover how some of the privileged documents belonging to the defendants had come into the hands of the claimants.

In spite of the rejection of the application, the judgment contains points of interest in relation to Norwich Pharmacal Orders.

The judge held that the court had jurisdiction to grant interim Norwich Pharmacal relief in existing proceedings and that there was no need for a separate originating process.

He also rejected the claimants’ submission that there was no need for such an order because all of the relevant issues would be aired at trial; how the documents were leaked was not in issue in the main proceedings and the defendants needed to identify the source of the leak before then.

While it was well established that Norwich Pharmacal relief could not be granted in aid of foreign proceedings, that was not what the defendant was seeking to do in this case.

On the facts the court dismissed the application as the defendant had failed to establish that they were unable to obtain the information from within their own organization and the primary purpose of the order was to prevent further disclosure to the claimants, but there was minimal risk of that happening and the order would place a disproportionate burden on the claimants.


Written by kerryunderwood

January 4, 2019 at 12:23 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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