When the search team arrives ...

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Stay calm but don't 'carry on'

In Western Australia, as in many other jurisdictions, parties to civil litigation may apply to the court for search orders (otherwise known as Anton Pillar orders).

Search orders allow a search party to inspect, copy and remove from one or more premises, specific documents or evidence that are relevant to a legal proceeding. The orders are designed to preserve important evidence pending the hearing and determination of the applicant's claim against the respondent or another person.

Unlike criminal search and seizure orders, which are typically carried out by law enforcement, civil search orders are executed by private parties, such as litigants or their representatives, under court supervision. The search party must include an independent solicitor who will supervise the search and a solicitor(s) representing the applicant. Independent computer experts are also often involved.

The orders are ordinarily made without notice being given to the respondent. Given the disruptive and invasive nature of the process, such orders are considered to be an extraordinary remedy. Standard orders are aimed at achieving the objectives of a search order, while minimising the potential for disruption or damage to the respondent and for abuse of the court's process. Even so, respondents will likely be taken by surprise. Errors in judgement and mistakes may be made.

 In the table below, I set out some dos and don’ts that respondents should bear in mind when a search party arrives. As the title of this article suggests, respondents should do their best to keep calm. There are some simple steps respondents can take to preserve their rights and interests. But they should not carry on in a way that obstructs the process, by interfering with the search or by destroying or concealing evidence or documents.


Please get in touch with Dean Grondal if you have any queries regarding this topic.

Phone: (08) 6500 4300

Website: https://www.grondalbruining.com.au/

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