Disclosure of Information: Norwich Pharmacal and Related Principles (2nd edition)
Simon Bushell and Gary Milner-Moore
£185, Bloomsbury Professional
The House of Lords (pictured) rescued the Norwich Pharmacal jurisdiction from a century of obsolescence in 1974.
Their lordships would be astonished to see how the narrow confines then imposed on the jurisdiction have gradually disappeared, so that almost half a century later Norwich Pharmacal relief has become an important and wide-ranging part of the court’s armoury to grant information-seeking orders. Its attraction is that the Norwich Pharmacal order, and its sibling Bankers Trust order, are rarely onerous to comply with.
The law on Norwich Pharmacal changes more rapidly than almost any other area of law, which is either a challenge or an opportunity for an author, depending on how you look at it. But it does mean that a second edition of Simon Bushell and Gary Milner-Moore’s work was certainly necessary.
The book starts by looking at the elements of the original decision itself, and then goes on to break down each of the ingredients of the cause of action, and consider the case law in greater detail than any other work. Norwich Pharmacal orders are much used in offshore and Commonwealth jurisdictions. The extensive citation of case law from abroad is particularly useful; many of the authorities identified are very hard to locate elsewhere.
Because it is a relatively specific area of law, the book is something of a monograph, and thus perhaps more likely to be purchased by a firm, chambers or university libraries than by individuals.
There is an argument that the book is worth buying merely to read the entertaining foreword by Sir Robin Jacob, junior counsel in Norwich Pharmacal itself. This is notable for his explanation as to how their lordships produced five judgments, notwithstanding the absence through illness of Lord Kilbrandon for part of the hearing. But for those whose buying choices are based on less self-indulgent grounds, the book is a valuable resource for anyone seeking to obtain or resist a Norwich Pharmacal order.
Charles Hollander QC is an advocate at Brick Court Chambers, London