TaxPersonal TaxTMA 1970, s 20C

TMA 1970, s 20C

[20C Entry with warrant to obtain documents

(1) If the appropriate judicial authority is satisfied on information on oath given by an officer of the Board that –
(a) there is reasonable ground for suspecting that an offence involving [serious fraud]2 in connection with, or in relation to, tax [is being, has been or is about to be]3 committed and that evidence of it is to be found on premises specified in the information; and
(b) in applying under this section, the officer acts with the approval of the Board given in relation to the particular case,
the authority may issue a warrant in writing authorising an officer of the Board to enter the premises, if necessary by force, at any time within 14 days from the time of issue of the warrant, and search them.
[(1AA) The Board shall not approve an application for a warrant under this section unless they have reasonable grounds for believing that use of the procedure under section 20BA above and Schedule 1AA to this Act (order for production of documents) might seriously prejudice the investigation.]6
[(1A) Without prejudice to the generality of the concept of serious fraud –
(a) any offence which involves fraud is for the purposes of this section an offence involving serious fraud if its commission had led, or is intended or likely to lead, either to substantial financial gain to any person or to serious prejudice to the proper assessment or collection of tax; and
(b) an offence which, if considered alone, would not be regarded as involving serious fraud may nevertheless be so regarded if there is reasonable ground for suspecting that it forms part of a course of conduct which is, or but for its detection would be, likely to result in serious prejudice to the proper assessment or collection of tax.]4
[(1B) The powers conferred by a warrant under this section shall not be exercisable –
(a) by more than such number of officers of the Board as may be specified in the warrant;
(b) outside such times of day as may be so specified;
(c) if the warrant so provides, otherwise than in the presence of a constable in uniform.]4
(2) Section 4A of the Inland Revenue Regulation Act 1890 (Board’s functions to be exercisable by an officer acting under their authority) does not apply to the giving of Board approval under this section.
[(3) An officer who enters the premises under the authority of a warrant under this section may –
(a) take with him such other persons as appear to him to be necessary;
(b) seize and remove any things whatsoever found there which he has reasonable cause to believe may be required as evidence for the purposes of proceedings in respect of such an offence as is mentioned in subsection (1) above; and
(c) search or cause to be searched any person found on the premises whom he has reasonable cause to believe to be in possession of any such things;
but no person shall be searched except by a person of the same sex.]5
[(3A) In the case of any information contained in a computer which is information that –
(a) an officer who enters the premises as mentioned in subsection (3) above has reasonable cause to believe may be required as evidence for the purposes mentioned in paragraph (b) of that subsection, and
(b) is accessible from the premises,
the power of seizure under that subsection includes a power to require the information to be produced in a form in which it can be taken away and in which it is visible and legible.]6
[(4) Nothing in subsection (3) above authorises the seizure and removal of items subject to legal privilege.
(4A) In subsection (4) “items subject to legal privilege” means –
(a) communications between a professional legal adviser and his client or any person representing his client made in connection with the giving of legal advice to the client;
(b) communications between a professional legal adviser and his client or any person representing his client or between such an adviser or his client or any such representative and any other person made in connection with or in contemplation of legal proceedings and for the purposes of such proceedings; and
(c) items enclosed with or referred to in such communications and made –
(i) in connection with the giving of legal advice; or
(ii) in connection with or in contemplation of legal proceedings and for the purposes of such proceedings,
when they are in the possession of a person who is entitled to possession of them.
(4B) Items held with the intention of furthering a criminal purpose are not subject to legal privilege.]6
[(5) An officer of the Board seeking to exercise the powers conferred by a warrant under this section or, if there is more than one such officer, that one of them who is in charge of the search –
(a) if the occupier of the premises concerned is present at the time the search is to begin, shall supply a copy of the warrant endorsed with his name to the occupier;
(b) if at that time the occupier is not present but a person who appears to the officer to be in charge of the premises is present, shall supply such a copy to that person; and
(c) if neither paragraph (a) nor paragraph (b) above applies, shall leave such a copy in a prominent place on the premises.]5
[(6) Where entry to premises has been made with a warrant under this section, and the officer making the entry has seized any things under the authority of the warrant, he shall endorse on or attach to the warrant a list of the things seized.]5
[(7) Subsections (10) to (12) of section 16 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (return, retention and inspection of warrants) apply to a warrant under this section (together with any list endorsed on or attached to it under subsection (6) above) as they apply to a warrant issued to a constable under any enactment.]5[(8) Subsection (7) above extends to England and Wales only.]5]1
[(9) Where in Scotland the information mentioned in subsection (1) above relates to premises situated in different sheriffdoms –
(a) petitions for the issue of warrants in respect of all the premises to which the information relates may be made to the sheriff for a sheriffdom in which any of the premises is situated, and
(b) where the sheriff issues a warrant in respect of premises situated in his own sheriffdom, he shall also have jurisdiction to issue warrants in respect of all or any of the other premises to which the information relates.
This does not affect any power or jurisdiction of a sheriff to issue a warrant in respect of an offence committed within his own sheriffdom.]6

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