Privilege against Self-Incrimination in Independent Evidence: C Plc v P (Attorney-General Intervening)

Date01 April 2008
Published date01 April 2008
DOI10.1350/ijep.2008.12.2.150
AuthorFelix L. H. Ng
Subject MatterArticle
CASE NOTES
PRIVILEGE AGAINST SELF-INCRIMINATION IN INDEPENDENT EVIDENCE
Privilege against self-incrimination in
independent evidence: CplcvP
(Attorney-General intervening)
By Felix L. H. Ng*
Reading for the Hong Kong Bar, City University of Hong Kong
Keywords Testimonial duty; Compulsion; Search and seizure order; Pre-existing
evidence; Disclosure
n an action for breach of confidence and copyright infringement, a
search and seizure order was made against P, the respondent, for the
search of his premises. P permitted the search to take place but prior to
its commencement he informed the supervising solicitor that he would rely on the
privilege against self-incrimination in respect of any incriminating material
which might be disclosed as a result of the search. A number of computers were
found and pursuant to a further order they were passed to an independent
computer expert for imaging. The expert discovered pornographic images of
children on one of the computers. The possession of these materials is prima facie a
criminal offence. The question in C plc vP (Attorney-General intervening)1was whether
the expert should have leave of the court to disclose the offending material to the
police. That turned on whether the privilege against self-incrimination applied to
the offending material, which existed independently of the search order.
The spirit of the privilege against self-incrimination was explained by Templeman
LJ in Rank Film Distributors Ltd vVideo Information Centre.2He said:
in any legal proceedings a person, whether a party to the proceedings
or not, cannot be compelled to answer any question or produce any
document or thing if to do so would expose him to proceedings for an
offence.
DOI:1350/ijep.2008.12.2.293
150 (2008) 12 E&P 150–155 THE INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF EVIDENCE & PROOF
I
1 [2007] EWCA Civ 493, [2007] 3 WLR 437.
2 [1982] AC 380 at 419.
* Email: felix.ng@st-hughs.oxon.org. The author is indebted to Mr Roderick Bagshaw, The Hon Mr
Justice Bokhary, Permanent Judge of the Court of Final Appeal and Professor Colin Tapper for their
helpful comments.

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