Recent surveys tracking the incidence of fraud in the United Kingdom have reported that the annual cost of fraud to UK businesses has reached a staggering £2billion. All indications are that the rise is set to continue. If your client is a victim of fraud, reacting swiftly and decisively is crucial. The seizure and preservation of evidence at a very early stage is, in many cases, critical to ensuring a successful outcome to any fraud investigation or proceedings that may take place.
The English courts are always willing to assist victims of fraud. Judges are prepared to grant orders permitting the victims' lawyers to search the businesses and residential premises of alleged fraudsters – with a view to seizing and preserving the evidence of the fraud.
Search Orders, although most commonly made in financial fraud matters, are also regularly granted in support of matters involving information theft in intellectual property related claims, breach of confidence disputes and even in divorce proceedings. This ensures that documentary and computer based evidence is preserved and protected in advance of trial.
Importantly, before a Search Order is granted to be executed at the defendant's home or work premises, the Court requires that an independent Supervising Solicitor must be appointed to supervise the search and report to the Court on the execution of the Search Order. At Mishcon de Reya we have considerable expertise in undertaking the supervision of Search Orders.
The Supervising Solicitor is the first person to make contact with the Respondent and gain access to the search site. Therefore the relationship that the Supervising Solicitor establishes with the Respondents and their lawyers is extremely important and a key factor in aiding the successful execution of a Search Order.
Why we are different
Many of our Partners at Mishcon have decades of experience in acting in injunction based litigation; this experience is invaluable when undertaking the role of Supervising Solicitor. Our unique practice, which involves regularly executing and responding to Search Orders, has afforded us extensive experience in acting both for claimants and for defendants. We can anticipate the issues likely to arise when executing a Search Order and we are able to deal with those issues practically and sensibly. We are also comfortable operating in multi-site 'pressure cooker' raid type situations.
We are accustomed to dealing appropriately and sensitively with situations where women, children and vulnerable individuals may be present at a search site – as well as with acting as Supervising Solicitors where large quantities of computer based electronic evidence require interrogation and searching.
Our experience over many years has equipped us to be able to provide a Supervising Solicitor service which facilitates the needs of the parties, the process and the Court.
Recently, members of our team have acted as Supervising Solicitors in the following situations:
- A vehicle search, delivery up and disclosure order against two individuals and a company Respondent involved in the supply of medical equipment to the Health Service. The search involved sensitive execution at an NHS hospital location.
- A search and disclosure order at the residential premises of a Respondent suspected of stealing money and confidential business information from his former financial institution employer. The search involved the supervision of the interrogation and searching of computer, mobile telephone and other electronic devices in the possession of the Respondent and his family members.
- A multi-site search, delivery up and disclosure order concerning several business and residential premises of corporate and individual directors and their families. The search related to a claim worth in excess of £100 million against Russian speaking Respondents. The service and explanation of the search order, and taking disclosures, required simultaneous translation and the supervision of computer and electronic device interrogation and search – which took several weeks to conclude.
- An immediate doorstep delivery up order against a UK company acting as a service company to a number of eastern European corporate entities. The order required the supervision of the delivery up of documents and electronic media to the Supervising Solicitors.