Powers, held by persons authorized by the Director of the Serious Fraud Office, the Director of Public Prosecutions, and the Director of the Revenue and Customs Prosecutions Office, under s 2 of the Criminal Justice Act 1987 (CJA) and s 62 of the Serious Organized Crime and Police Act 2005 (SOCPA), to require a person to answer questions, provide information, or produce documents for the purposes of an investigation. The powers under the 1987 Act may only be used for the purposes of an investigation of a suspected offence which appears on reasonable grounds to the Director of the Serious Fraud Office to involve serious or complex fraud and where there is good reason to do so for the purpose of investigating the affairs, or any aspect of the affairs of any person. The powers under the 2005 Act may be exercised where there are reasonable grounds to believe that an offence listed in s 61 of the Act has been committed and that any person has information (whether or not contained in a document) which relates to a matter relevant to the investigation of that offence, and that there are reasonable grounds for believing that information which may be provided by that person in compliance with a disclosure notice is likely to be of substantial value (whether or not by itself) to that investigation. They are exercised by service of a disclosure notice. The majority of such notices are issued to banks, financial institutions, accountants, and other professionals, who may, in the ordinary course of their business, hold information or documents relevant to a suspected fraud. In most instances those institutions and persons owe duties of confidence to their clients and, whilst they may be willing to assist an investigation, cannot do so while such duties of confidence remain.
Section 2(4) CJA 1987 and s 66(2) SOCPA 2005 allow for a justice of the peace to issue a search warrant if, on an information on oath laid by the investigating authority, he is satisfied, inter alia, that a person has been required by a disclosure notice to produce relevant documents but has not done so, or that it is not practicable to give a disclosure notice requiring their production, or that giving such a notice might seriously prejudice the investigation of an offence. Such a warrant provides authority to an appropriate person named in it to enter and search the premises specified, using such force as is reasonably necessary; to take possession of any documents (including any computer disk or other electronic storage device) appearing to be documents of a description specified, or to take any other steps which appear to be necessary for preserving, or preventing interference with, any such documents; to take copies of or extracts from any such documents; to require any person on the premises to provide an explanation of any such documents or information or to state where any such documents or information may be found; and to require any such person to give such assistance as may reasonably be required for the taking of copies or extracts.