The Supreme Court docket dominated on Friday that the UK Severe Fraud Workplace (SFO) acted unlawfully when it tried to compel US engineering firm KBR at hand over paperwork held abroad throughout an investigation.
Supreme Court docket Judges unanimously disagreed with a 2018 Excessive Court docket ruling that notices issued below part 2(3) of the Prison Justice Act 1987. have extra-territorial attain. The ruling offers a blow to the SFO’s capability to collect proof held exterior the UK.
“The presumption in opposition to extra-territorial impact clearly applies on this case as a result of KBR Inc just isn’t a UK firm, and has by no means had a registered workplace or carried on enterprise within the UK,” the court docket acknowledged.
The court docket additionally rejected the argument that parliament had supposed Part 2(3) to grant the SFO the ability to compel international corporations to supply paperwork held exterior the UK. In judgement, Lord Lloyd-Jones pointed to successive acts of parliament which have developed constructions in home legislation that enable the UK to take part in mutual authorized help internationally, arguing that it was “inherently unbelievable” that the federal government would have supposed for a parallel system to permit the SFO to acquire proof from overseas with none recourse to courts.
The SFO argued that Part 2 extra-territorial powers had been integral to its capability to research multinational companies with complicated worldwide constructions, however stated that it welcomed the court docket’s clarification.
“Given virtually all of its instances contain some factor of abroad proof gathering, this resolution shall be disappointing for the SFO – not least since, following Brexit, it not has entry to European Investigation Orders,” former SFO common counsel Alun Milford informed Metropolis A.M.
The SFO opened a bribery and corruption investigation into KBR in 2017, initially with the corporate’s cooperation. Nevertheless, when the SFO issued a Part 2 discover to a US-based senior government throughout a gathering in Britain, KBR utilized for a judicial evaluation to have it quashed.