A post from Corker Bining on 5 November is concerned with situations where a person does not destroy documents, but rather refuses to provide documents when compelled to do so in a criminal investigation – are there general principles that determine when the recipient of a compulsory production notice can lawfully withhold the documents sought? It is not a reasonable excuse to withhold documents on the basis that they incriminate (or might incriminate) a person, and it would be an extraordinarily unusual case in which the recipient of a notice can lawfully withhold documents by asserting the privilege against self-incrimination. What might be reasonable excuse –
- The first (and easiest) category of “reasonable excuse” to identify is legal professional privilege (LPP);
- Overseas persons who receive a notice compelling the production of documents held outside the UK where the person has “insufficient connection” to the jurisdiction;
- Where the notice identifies vast swathes of irrelevant documents and/or is so onerous that it would be impossible to collate the documents in a reasonable timeframe;
- Where the disclosure of documents to the investigator would breach other legal duties and/or compete with countervailing public policy considerations; and
- (Possibly) where compliance with the notice would necessarily involve the commission of a criminal offence.
The post highlights the potential use and problems with each of the above.
I had omitted the following link (as it did not seem to generate much interest!), but it seemed time to add it again and say that, if you would like to make a (polite) gesture and help me with my removal and computer costs, I have a page at https://www.buymeacoffee.com/KoIvM842y