Crime (Overseas Production Orders) Bill [HL] - Report

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 5:00 pm on 22nd October 2018.

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Photo of Baroness Williams of Trafford Baroness Williams of Trafford The Minister of State, Home Department, Minister for Equalities (Department for International Development) 5:00 pm, 22nd October 2018

My Lords, I explained in Committee that Clause 7(1) creates a power for the judge to vary or revoke an overseas production order. Where a non-disclosure requirement is included in an overseas production order—by virtue of Clause 8— Clause 7 will apply so that the non-disclosure requirement can also be varied or revoked by a judge.

However, as I said to this House in Grand Committee, it is the Government’s intention that judges should be able to vary or revoke all orders made under the Bill. As well as overseas production orders, this includes other orders made under provisions in the Bill: for example, an order made under Clause 8(4) which maintains an unexpired non-disclosure requirement when an overseas production order has been revoked. It has also been the intention of government that the procedure and process for varying and revoking an order would be governed by court rules, mirroring current legislation for production orders under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 or the Terrorism Act 2000.

We gave a commitment in Grand Committee to review whether provisions that can be made in court rules relating to non-disclosure requirements when an overseas production order has been revoked should themselves be capable of being varied or revoked on application. Clause 11 provides that court rules may make provisions in relation to the practice and procedure to be followed when making an overseas production order. But the Government accept that this could give rise to doubt as to whether court rules could make provision in respect of other orders made under the Bill. I have therefore proposed an amendment to Clause 17 that puts beyond doubt that court rules can be made not only in relation to overseas production orders but in respect of the types of orders made under Clause 8(4) and Clause 13(3) and (4)(b). This will include making provision for the practice and procedure to be followed when applying to vary or revoke such orders.

Noble Lords raised questions in Committee about the process concerning how someone could vary or revoke an order. The future appeals process also arose in the context of notices that could be served by another country party to an agreement on UK companies. While the Bill only deals with outgoing orders—that is, ones issued by a UK court—we have ensured that the remedies available to someone served with a domestic production order are available to a person served with an overseas production order, and we would expect the other country to do the same.

In addition, we envisage a dispute resolution mechanism as part of any agreement we might designate under the Bill, which would allow a service provider concerned about whether the order that was sought complied with the terms of the agreement to raise objections with the authorities of the country concerned. This would allow a UK service provider to raise objections if it believed that a particular order should not have been served under the agreement. At first instance, these objections would be raised with the issuing country. If the service provider was still not satisfied, it could then go to the relevant UK authority. There may be ongoing discussions between the two parties to the agreement, but ultimately it would be a decision for the relevant UK authority to say whether or not the request from the other authority could safely be given effect to. I hope this addresses the concerns raised in Committee.