Case Alert -  EWHC 482 (Ch)
Judge rules on what must be disclosed by the respondent following the grant of a freezing order
The worldwide freezing order ("WFO") granted against the respondents contained the standard disclosure obligation to inform the applicant in writing "of all his assets exceeding [here, £25,000] in value as at the date of this order, giving the value, location and detail of all such assets." The WFO defined the term "assets" as including a chose in action (broadly, a right to sue another party), although it did not give any guidance as to what had to be provided in relation to a chose in action. The respondents had made various loans and the applicant argued that full disclosure of these had not been given (in particular whether the debtors were likely to be able to repay).
The judge reviewed prior caselaw and noted that an asset disclosure order should only be made for the purpose of policing (or giving effect to) the WFO and should not go beyond information that is necessary for that purpose. Confidentiality does not entitle the respondent to withhold information. She accepted that the court has jurisdiction to make the order (which might include disclosure of documents), where "such an order is required to enable a claimant, first, to identify the nature and extent of a defendant's interest in assets, and second, to decide whether and, if so, what further steps it should take to protect its position, such steps being an important aspect of its ability to police the freezing order".
She refused to order disclosure of loan documents and drew an analogy with details of a bank account: "In such a case the court would require disclosure of the bank's name and location, the name or names in which the account is held, the account number and the balance in the account, which is the asset for these purposes. What the court will not do is order the provision of bank statements. They contain details about the asset but they are not details necessary to understand the nature of the interest in the asset or to enable the freezing order to be policed".
She did order disclosure of the date on which each contract was entered into and the nature of the goods sold or services provided under the contracts. Such basic information fell within the scope of "details" for the purposes of the WFO. The date of repayment was also a detail which is directly relevant to the value of the chose in action and so fall within "location, value or details". The applicant was further entitled to know whether the repayment of monies due was secured and the estimated value of any such security. However, although information about payments made to date had to be given to the applicant, the respondent was not required to provide details of future payments.