Search orders in employee competition claims
Search orders in employee competition claims

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

  • Search orders in employee competition claims
  • When to apply
  • Principles relevant to obtaining a search order
  • Electronic documents
  • Safeguards for the defendant(s)
  • Form of the order
  • Further resources

Search orders in employee competition claims

A search order will generally provide that the claimant employer may enter into the defendant's premises, and may search for and seize relevant documents or other property, such as computers. Search orders were formerly known as Anton Piller injunctions, named after the claimant in the leading case on this type of order.

Although the claimant employer may not use force to enter the defendant's premises, a defendant who refuses to allow entry to execute the search order runs the risk of being found in contempt of court, potentially punishable by imprisonment in appropriate cases.

A search order may be made in respect of a defendant's home as well as business premises.

A search order is one of the most draconian remedies available to the courts. It is almost always made in the absence of the defendant. It therefore requires a strong case to be shown by the claimant and, if granted, is subject to various safeguards to protect the defendant’s rights.

When to apply

A search order is normally sought as an interim remedy, as there is usually a great deal of urgency involved for the employer. Delay in applying for such orders may result in the permanent loss or destruction of the items concerned.

Due to the nature of the remedy provided by these orders, and the risk of relevant documents and property being

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