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Anton Piller order

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Overview Edit

In British and British-derived legal systems, an Anton Piller order (frequently misspelled "Anton Pillar" order) is a court order which provides for the right to search premises and seize evidence without prior warning. This is used in order to prevent the destruction of incriminating evidence, particularly in cases of alleged trademark, copyright or patent infringements. The order is named for the case of Anton Piller KG v. Manufacturing Processes Limited, [1976] Ch 55 in 1976, although the first reported such order was granted by Templeman J in EMI Limited v Pandit [1975] 1 All ER 418 in 1975. They are now known as search orders in England and Wales.

Because such an order is essentially unfair to the accused party, Anton Piller orders are only issued exceptionally and according to the three-step test set out by Ormrod LJ in the Anton Piller case:

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 partes application can be made.

In the UK, it has been reported that approximately 500 Anton Piller orders were made per year between 1975 and 1980. During the 1990s, this rate had dropped tenfold. Although the name persists in normal usage, the common law application of this order has been largely superseded by a statutory search order under the Civil Procedure Act 1997. A search order under this act "does not affect any right of a person to refuse to do anything on the ground that to do so might tend to expose him or his spouse to proceedings for an offence or for the recovery of a penalty."

In some jurisdictions (for example, Hong Kong and South Africa) where there is no statutory search order, the Anton Piller Order is still often used.


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