Kent Pharmaceuticals Ltd and others v Serious Fraud Office: Admn 2002

There was to be an investigation by the SFO into allegations that some in the pharmaceutical industry were dishonestly increasing the price charged for drugs supplied to the NHS. On 27th March 2002 District Judge Nicholas Evans received written application for warrants.
Held: The court considered the statutory requirements applicable to such warrants, and the relevant provisions of the Human Rights Act. The starting point was said to be sections 15 and 16 of the 1984 Act. Lord Woolf CJ assumed without finally deciding that ‘all the requirements of sections 15 and 16 have to be complied with if a warrant is to protect a search and the seizure of goods within premises to which it relates’. As to section 2 of the 1987 Act: ‘The structure of section 2 is clear. It is intended that the powers that are given to the Director under subsection (3) should be used to obtain documents, if it is appropriate to do so, and it is only in cases that do not lend themselves to being dealt with under subsection (3) that the powers contained in subsections (4) and (5), which were those used here by the SFO, in entering the premises in question, can be used.’ The hard drive of a computer would be ‘a document’ and, which it is true that section 2(18) defined ‘document’ in broad terms.
The court accepted a submission that Article 8 of the European Convention had to be taken into account when considering sections 15 and 16 of the 1984 Act, and section 2 of the 1987 Act: ‘In what I have said so far I have had fully in mind the fact that on any showing there is an intrusion into the protection provided by Article 8(1) where searches of the sort that took place in this case, and the removal of material as happened here, occur. However, Article 8(1) does not stand by itself; it stands subject to Article 8(2). It is my view that in drawing the legislation contained in PACE in the terms that it has, parliament is endeavouring to give statutory effect to the same principles which Article 8 is designed to protect .. The need to consider Article 8 only arises if sections 15 and 16 do not provide sufficient protection in themselves. In my judgment they do. Article 8 in a case of this sort does not add anything to what has been the position hitherto.’


Lord Woolf CJ


[2002] EWCA 3023


Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 15 16, Criminal Justice Act 1987 2, European Convention on Human Rights 8


England and Wales

Cited by:

CitedEnergy Financing Team Ltd and others v The Director of the Serious Fraud Office, Bow Street Magistrates Court Admn 22-Jul-2005
The claimants sought to set aside warrants and executions under them to provide assistance to a foreign court investigating alleged unlawful assistance to companies in Bosnia Herzegovina.
Held: The issue of such a warrant was a serious step. . .
CitedFaisaltex Ltd and others, Regina (on the Application of) v Crown Court Sitting at Preston and others etc Admn 21-Nov-2008
Nine claimants sought leave to bring judicial review of the issue of search warrants against solicitors’ and business and other premises, complaining of the seizure of excluded material and of special procedure material. There were suspicions of the . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Criminal Practice, Human Rights

Updated: 23 May 2022; Ref: scu.230388