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Catching fraudsters: little-known litigation tricks (Part 9) - Non-party search orders

29 June 2023
Search orders require a person to let you into their property to search for, copy and remove documents.  It is well-established that such orders are available in fraud cases to stop fraudsters hiding or destroying evidence.  But what if the evidence is in the hands of a third party, not the fraudster?  The English courts are willing to help and grant search orders against third parties. 

The case of Abela v Baadarani confirmed that the courts will grant a search order against any person (not just someone that is an actual party to the court proceedings) who holds evidence that is or might be relevant to the claim, where the order is made for the purpose of securing that evidence.  There are other routes to obtain documentation from third parties (such as a Norwich Pharmacal order, under a particular English court rule called CPR 31.17, or by a witness summons), but where there is a risk that the evidence will be destroyed or concealed by the third party, the court has the power to grant a search order. 

This is an incredibly useful tool if you suspect that there is someone conspiring with the fraudster to destroy or hide evidence.

Further Reading