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The Federal Court has refused the Commissioner’s application for access to a file concerning family law proceedings between a former husband and wife.

The Commissioner’s application was made in the context of a taxation appeal in the Federal Court by International Litigation Partners Pte Ltd. The file in question was a Federal Circuit Court (Family Law Division) file concerning a Mr Lindholm and his former wife, apparently involving their dispute concerning property and in respect of a child of their marriage. The Commissioner wanted access to the file because he believed information relevant to the Federal Court proceedings, about Mr Lindholm’s involvement with International Litigation Partners, could be contained in materials filed in the family law proceeding.

Mr Lindholm opposed the Commissioner’s application.

The court said that the exercise of discretion must involve weighing the likelihood of the family law file disclosing to the Commissioner anything of any real utility against the interest in preserving the confidential and personal nature of the documents contained in the file. It was noteworthy that Mr Lindholm was not a party to the taxation proceedings in the Federal Court.

The court was not satisfied that such additional utility as there might be in the Commissioner inspecting the family law file outweighed the interest of Mr Lindholm in maintaining the confidential status of that file or, indeed, the public interest that must exist in such confidentiality being maintained.

International Litigation Partners Pte Ltd v FCT [2014] FCA 671 (Jagot J, 20 June 2014).

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