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Production order: period for compliance

The scope and lawfulness of a Production Order was the subject of a judicial review in the Divisional Court in R (on the application of Chatwani and others) v National Crime Agency [2015] EWHC 1284. The Claimants were subjects in a wide ranging money laundering investigation. They were directors of a group of over 40 companies. The National Crime Agency sought and obtained a Production Order against various banks and also the auditor the companies. The Orders against the banks permitted provision of information within 7 days. However, the Order against the auditor required production of the information immediately upon service of the Order. The Divisional Court granted a declaration that the Order was unlawful for that reason only: Hickinbottom J said: “Where, as here, the target is a professional man in respect of whom there is no evidence of criminal behavior or any wrong-doing, then an immediate order would be wrong without such an evidential basis. It is not sufficient for the applicant merely to assert that there is a risk that an operation will be compromised if the target of the order is given time to comply: he must set out, even if briefly, the basis upon which that risk is aid to arise, so that the judge can exercise his discretion to shorten the seven day period in a properly informed way”.


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