QUEEN'S BENCH DIVISION
London WC2A 2LL
B e f o r e :
MR JUSTICE KENNETH PARKER
|THE QUEEN ON THE APPLICATION OF RABIUL HOQUE AND MRIDUL KANTI DAS||Claimants|
|CITY OF LONDON MAGISTRATES' COURT||First Defendant|
|THE COMMISSIONERS OF HM REVENUE AND CUSTOMS||Second Defendant|
WordWave International Limited
A Merrill Communications Company
165 Fleet Street London EC4A 2DY
Tel No: 020 7404 1400 Fax No: 020 7404 1424
(Official Shorthand Writers to the Court)
The First Defendant did not appear and was not represented
Mr A Bird (instructed by Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs) appeared on behalf of the Second Defendant
Crown Copyright ©
"Any form of evidence deemed relevant to the offences under investigation relating to Mridul Kanti Das and Mohammed Rabiul Hoque and their companies, including taking records, invoices, wage records, hire purchase agreements, business records, diaries, address books, faxes, travel documents, mobile telephone communications, including handsets, SIM cards, computer processing equipment, including portable storage devices and media records, documents showing financial deals and records relating to the opening of bank accounts, fund flow, and the acquisition, ownership, retention or control of any other assets, and any other material which appears to officers to be of evidential value".
Warrants in materially identical terms were issued in respect of 175 Charlemont Road, East Ham, London; 12 Festival Park, Basildon, Essex; and 65 to 67 Amsterdam Road, Docklands London.
"(1)If on an application made by a constable a justice of the peace is satisfied that there are reasonable grounds for believing—
(a)that an indictable offence has been committed; and
(b)that there is material on premises mentioned in subsection (1A) below which is likely to be of substantial value (whether by itself or together with other material) to the investigation of the offence; and
(c)that the material is likely to be relevant evidence; and
(d)that it does not consist of or include items subject to legal privilege, excluded material or special procedure material; and
(e)that any of the conditions specified in subsection (3) below applies,
he may issue a warrant authorising a constable to enter and search the premises in relation to each set of premises specified in the application.
(2)A constable may seize and retain anything for which a search has been authorised under subsection (1) above.
(3)The conditions mentioned in subsection (1)(e) above are—
(d)that the purpose of a search may be frustrated or seriously prejudiced unless a constable arriving at the premises can secure immediate entry to them.
(4)In this Act 'relevant evidence', in relation to an offence, means anything that would be admissible in evidence at a trial for the offence..."
Section 15 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 regulates the requirements for a warrant, and in its relevant parts reads as follows:
"(1)This section and section 16 below have effect in relation to the issue to constables under any enactment, including an enactment contained in an Act passed after this Act, of warrants to enter and search premises; and an entry on or search of premises under a warrant is unlawful unless it complies with this section and section 16 below.
(i)the name of the person who applies for it;
(ii)the date on which it is issued;
(iii)the enactment under which it is issued; and
(iv)each set of premises to be searched, or (in the case of an all premises warrant) the person who is in occupation or control of premises to be searched, together with any premises under his occupation or control which can be specified and which are to be searched; and
(b)shall identify, so far as is practicable, the articles or persons to be sought..."
"First the warrants issued on 11.4.97 all contained the limiting words, 'all relating to the stated offence'. That the offence is not stated in the warrants is nothing to the point. It had been stated to the magistrate and the applicants accept for present purposes that there were reasonable grounds for believing that offence had been committed. Thus the warrants provided no authority for seizure of a document or other record simply because it was found on the premises searched and fell within one of the four numbered categories set out in them. It had to be related to the stated offence. Nor was this all. The power of seizure in the case of these warrants was that set out in section 8(2). 'A constable may seize and retain anything for which a search has been authorised under sub-section (1) above.'
It follows from this that it was not sufficient that any material seized should fall simply within the terms of the warrant, including the words, 'all relating to the stated offence'. It had also to be something for which a search had been authorised under section 8(1). In other words, there had also to be reasonable grounds for believing it was likely to be of substantial value to the investigation and be evidence of the stated offence and not consist of or include special procedure material ... The effect of section 8(1) and (2) is to limit what may be seized under a search warrant issued under section 8. The effect of a description in the warrant is potentially to limit further what may be seized. I say potentially because no doubt in practice, where this is practicable, the description in the warrant will accurately define that for which the warrant is intended to give a power to search and seize. However, those executing a search warrant issued under section 8 should not lose sight of the requirement that, even though material may fall within the description in the warrant its seizure still has to fall within what is permitted by section 8(1) & (2). This is the more important in a case in which there are limitations on the practicability of identifying with any precision the material to be sought."
In this passage it would seem that Jowitt J was addressing the arguments specifically mounted before the court on that occasion. He seems not to have been applying section 15 subsections (1) and (6) of the Act, the effect of which is that if the warrant does not so far as a practicable identify the articles to be sought the entry on or search of premises under it will be unlawful.