Arnhem Court of Appeal Puts an End to Legal Actions by Blythe Brown

Blythe Brown has filed a lawsuit in the United States against her former husband, Dan Brown, which arises from the divorce between them in December 2019. In order to gather evidence for her alleged claims against Dan Brown, Blythe Brown turned in the Netherlands to Dan Brown’s current girlfriend, Judith Pietersen, and took various legal actions against her.

Blythe Brown has initiated summary proceedings against Judith Pietersen and, on the basis of Article 843a of the Code of Civil Procedure, she demanded various documents. The preliminary relief judge partially awarded Blythe Brown’s claims in a judgment of 26 August 2020.[1]  On the basis of this judgment, Judith Pietersen provided Blythe Brown with copies of various documents.

However, Blythe Brown claimed that Judith Pietersen did not comply with the verdict and lodged an appeal. Judith Pietersen did that too.

In appeal, Blythe Brown has claimed, among other things, that the court appoints an expert who should have access to the records of Judith Pietersen and her sole proprietorship. This expert would then have to assess which records would be relevant to Blythe Brown. Judith Pietersen has successfully opposed this. The court of appeal rejected this claim of Blythe Brown by judgment of 17 November 2020[2] and put an end to her legal actions in the Netherlands. In this regard, the court considered that Blythe Brown’s claim amounted to a fishing expedition in the form of a drag net for which Article 843a of the Code of Civil Procedure is not intended:

5.2.3. Brown’s claim means that she requests access to all correspondence and administration of Pietersen and JPD on all data carriers, in order to have an expert assess what may be relevant. Article 843a DCCP is not intended for that. As already stated above, it must concern certain, that is to say, specific documents. What Brown is asking is much broader than that, and basically amounts to a fishing expedition in the form of a drag net. This no longer falls under the heading of ‘specific’, and no longer complies with the principles of proportionality and subsidiarity. The assessment of which documents must be provided is furthermore up to the court and not to an expert, apart from the fact that summary proceedings such as the present one are intended for an order measure that can be implemented quickly. That does not relate to an expert report and a process such as Brown envisions.

The only thing Judith Pietersen has to provide to Blythe Brown is a copy of two horse passports and that’s the end of it.

Judith Pietersen was assisted in this case by L.M. Schelstraete, V. Zitman and C.J.M. Bongers.

[1] http://deeplink.rechtspraak.nl/uitspraak?id=ECLI:NL:RBGEL:2020:4275

[2]  http://deeplink.rechtspraak.nl/uitspraak?id=ECLI:NL:GHARL:2020:9466