Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Tax Office denied access to family law documents

Following on from recent posts, another decision arising out of family law proceedings that is worth remembering is International Litigation Partners Pte Ltd v FCT [2014] FCA 671.

If you would like a copy of the decision please email me. In this particular case, the Tax Office had sought access to material filed in the family court proceedings to assist in determining the tax residency of various related entities of the husband.  While the former wife consented to access being granted, the husband opposed access.

In ultimately denying the Tax Office access to the documents requested, the court confirmed:

  1. The court must use its discretion to determine whether access to family court documents is appropriate on a case by case basis.

  2. The exercise of the discretion involves the weighing of a number of competing interests, and in particular, whether the Tax Office was likely to derive any substantial benefit by breaching the confidential nature of personal documents filed in family court proceedings. 

  3. The court should also take into account practical difficulties in separating documents that might be of use to the Tax Office and those that disclose personal issues (including those concerning the children of the relationship). 

  4. Also of relevance is whether the spouse to the marriage is party to a Tax Office litigation (in this case, the husband was not a party).  As set out in earlier posts, in the Darling matter, the husband was a party to Tax Office audit activity.
Until next week.

Image credit: Paul Hocksenar cc