- Search orders and destruction of evidence (Ocado Group plc v McKeeve)
- What are the practical implications of this case?
- What was the background?
- What did the court decide?
- Case details
Dispute Resolution analysis: ‘Burn all’—that was what a solicitor directed an employee of his defendant client to do with a messaging system upon learning that a High Court search order had just been served upon his client. The Court of Appeal held that there was sufficient material to justify allowing Ocado to pursue the defendant solicitor, Mr McKeeve, for contempt on account of his having allegedly interfered with the due administration of justice. The decision of Justice Marcus Smith was regarded as plainly wrong and so it was for the Appeal Court to decide the point afresh. There were powerful grounds to look with suspicion at a solicitor who, with actual knowledge of a search order having been granted by the High Court, ordered the peremptory destruction of the very documentary material which the order was intended to preserve. Written by Professor Dominic Regan, City Law School, London.
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