The Pen is mightier than the Act


In all the rush and hoo-ha associated with the Privacy Act and our constant (and sometimes what feels like never-ending!) change of Facebook privacy settings we sometimes forget that the courts have the powers to lift this veil of mystery. Or that the Law can take away privacy same as it giveth it.

This is also the case in the Family Courts – if a wife or husband think they can get away with hiding information, monies in accounts, transactions or transfers and think they can shroud themselves in privacy laws, they will be in for a rude awakening when this shroud is stripped with subpoenae.

So a subpoena, plural subpoenae (blame the ancient Romans and their pluralisation for this) is an order from the court permitting any organisation/bank/hospital etc to reveal all the private records for a person.

This is some pretty potent stuff….

For example, there is no point for a wife or husband to claim they receive a lower wage than they actually do, or that a child is not doing well in school, or that they do not have a hospital record, when a simple subpoena can be issued to verify the claim.

In having said that, as the saying goes, with great power comes great responsibility – the courts will not allow a person to cast a wide net of subpoenae and hope to come up with something they can use against the other party. The court literally calls this a ‘fishing expedition’.

A subpoena can only be issued to verify a claim already mentioned or made in the court process.

So beware the subpoena and stand by the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

By Nadia Messiha

*The picture is the creation of Gianfranco Uber a member of Cartoon Movement and all credit goes to him

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