Anton Piller KG v Manufacturing Processes Limited [1976] 1 ALL ER 779

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IN THE SUPREME COURT OF JUDICATURE
COURT OF APPEAL
CIVIL DIVISION
On appeal from Order of Mr Justice Brightman.

Royal Courts of Justice,
8th December 1975

B e f o r e :

THE MASTER OF THE ROLLS (Lord Denning),
LORD JUSTICE ORMROD and
LORD JUSTICE SHAW

____________________

Between:

ANTON PILLER K.G., Plaintiffs
-and-
MANUFACTURING PROCESSES LIMITED,
BERNARD PRESTON WALLACE and
ALFRED HENRY STEPHEN BAKER, Defendants

____________________

____________________

Mr HUGH LADDIE (instructed by Messrs Collyer-Bristow & Co.)
appeared on behalf of the Appellants (Plaintiffs). 

____________________

THE MASTER OF THE ROLLS: During the last eighteen months the judges of the Chancery Division have been making Orders of a kind not known before. They have some resemblance to search warrants. Under these Orders, the plaintiff and his Solicitors are authorised to enter the defendant’s premises so as to inspect papers, provided the defendant gives permission.

Now this is the important point: The Court orders the defendant to give them permission. The Judges have been making these Orders on ex parte applications without prior notice to the defendant. None of the cases have been reported except the one before Mr Justice Templeman on the 3rd December, 1974. It is E.M.I. v. Pandit, 1975 1 Weekly Law Reports, 302. But in the present case Mr Justice Brightman refused to make such an Order.

On appeal to us, Mr Laddie appears for the Plaintiff. He has appeared in most of these cases, and can claim the credit – or the responsibility – for them. He represented to us that in this case it was in the interests of justice that the application should not be made public at the time it was made. So we heard it in camera. It was last Tuesday. After hearing his submissions, we made the Order. We now come to give our reasons in public. But at the outset I must state the facts, for it is obvious that such an Order can only be justified in the most exceptional circumstances.

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