The Harman Principle is a rule expressed as an implied undertaking to the Court not to use documents or information that is obtained under a court order for any purpose other than that for which it was given. The rule continues to apply until such documents or information becomes evidence in the proceedings in an open court or a court order is granted, which releases an individual from its obligation.

The rule may apply to:

  • Documents produced on discovery
  • Affidavits
  • Expert reports
  • Answers to interrogatories
  • Documents produced for the purposes of taxation costs
  • Documents produced on subpoena

The rule not only applies to the parties of the proceedings but also their legal advisers, employees and consultants. It may also apply to third parties such as litigation funders, court officers, expert witnesses and court reporters.

The main reason for such a rule is to promote the protection of privacy. It has also been considered to:

  • Encourage full and frank disclosure of documents; and
  • Prevent the abuse of the Court’s process by using the information for an ulterior purpose

Examples of impermissible use under the rule include using information to gain a competitive advantage and providing information to journalists.

If you require any further information in relation to the Harman principle, please do not hesitate to contact our team of lawyers at The Quinn Group on (02) 9223 9166 or submit an online enquiry form today.