Search orders—guiding principles

The following Dispute Resolution practice note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Search orders—guiding principles
  • What is a search order?
  • The power to grant search orders
  • Guiding principles for granting search orders
  • Strong prima facie case
  • Avoiding serious damage
  • Damage to the applicant or their business
  • Damage to the administration of justice generally
  • Public health and safety implications
  • Clear evidence of possession of incriminating documents or articles
  • More...

Search orders—guiding principles

This Practice Note explains what a search order is (also known as an Anton Piller order, following the case Anton Piller v Manufacturing Processes), the source of the courts’ power to grant a search order and the principles that the court will apply before granting one. It also discusses alternative orders for the delivery up or preservation of evidence.

For related guidance on search orders, see Practice Notes:

  1. Search orders—the application

  2. Search orders—the draft order and electronic documents

  3. Search orders—executing the order

  4. Search orders—key and illustrative decisions

What is a search order?

A search order is a form of mandatory interim injunction compelling a party to allow another party into their premises to preserve materials which, it is considered, might otherwise be destroyed or concealed.

Search orders are a draconian remedy and therefore the power should be exercised with caution—as discussed below, the circumstances in which the court will grant such an order are limited. In addition, numerous procedural safeguards have been put in place to avoid abuse, which are set out in the Precedent: Search order and discussed in the following Practice Notes:

  1. Search orders—the application, in particular the main sections:

    1. The supervising solicitor

    2. Evidence in support

  2. Search orders—the draft order and electronic documents

The power to grant search orders

The High Court has an inherent jurisdiction to order a party to permit access to premises

Related documents:

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