Saturday, 29 November 2008

Anton Piller (Civil Search)

An Anton Piller order is a civil court order providing for the right to search premises and seize evidence without prior warning. In the US, the Business Software Alliance has used these orders as a remedy when they are attempting to stop illegal software use (termed Software Piracy) and Copyright Infringement to achieve the recovery of property.

Ormrod LJ in Anton Piller KG v. Manufacturing Processes Limited in 1976 (UK) defined the three-step test for granting this order:

  1. There is an extremely strong prima facie case against the respondent,
  2. The damage, potential or actual, must be very serious for the applicant, and
  3. There must be clear evidence that the respondents have in their possession incriminating documents or things and that there is a real possibility that they may destroy such material before an inter parties application is able to be in court.
In the UK, Anton Piller orders have been (for the most part) outmoded by the introduction of a statutory Search order under the Civil Procedure Act 1997. These applications are still common in many places such as Canada and France.

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