Challenging the lawfulness of a search warrant

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Following the High Court decision in Rawlinson & Hunter Trustees SA v Central Criminal Court [2012] EWHC 2254 which concerned the Serious Fraud Office's decision to execute search warrants against the Tchenguiz brothers, search warrants and the ability to challenge them have been very much in the news, explains Monty Jivraj of Jeffrey Green Russell.

The High Court has shown an increasing willingness to intervene in improperly issued search warrants in recent years. It can quash warrants, order return of documents seized, order damages and costs.

As Mr Justice Underhill said in Mercury Tax Group Limited v HMRC [2008] EWHC 2721:

“The authorities repeatedly emphasise that the approval of a judge to the issue of search warrants — which unless properly justified represent a gross intrusion on civil liberties - cannot be a rubber stamp: it is his duty to subject the information put before him to jealous scrutiny”

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