South Glos

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High Court upholds validity of entry warrants for athleisure investigation

An attempt to impart meaning to a single colon in a warrant heading has been rejected by the High Court, which held this did not show raids by trading standards officers had been invalid.

In Proimage Ltd & Ors, R (On the Application Of) v Lancashire Magistrates' Court at Blackburn & Ors [2021] EWHC 3244 (Admin) Mr Justice Andrew Baker rejected all the grounds argued by Kuldip Singh Bansal and his four businesses against Lancashire Magistrates' Court, Lancashire County Council trading standards service and the Chief Constable of Greater Manchester.

Trading standards officers were investigating whether Mr Bansal, and/or his companies, were engaged in trading on a large scale in counterfeit ‘athleisure’ and designer clothing, so committing offences under the Trade Marks Act 1994.

Warrants were obtained from DDJ Richard Lowe, and raids carried out at three premises accompanied by police officers and representatives of trade mark proprietors.

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Entry was obtained unforced at each, including the Bansal family home.

Mr Bansal claimed the warrants were unlawful because they were headed: “Warrant To Enter Premises: The Trade Marks Act 1994” but that Act did not include powers of entry.

Andrew Baker J said: “I do not accept that submission. The heading does not so state.

“The exercise in interpreting the warrants is an exercise in putting a meaning to the colon in the heading. The claimants need the colon to convey ‘issued pursuant to a power granted by', or similar; but to my mind it conveys only 'for the purposes of’, ‘in connection with’, or the like.”

He also rejected an argument that DDJ Lowe had not addressed his mind to the statutory conditions concerned in grating the warrant.

“I find on the evidence that DDJ Lowe did address his mind to the statutory conditions for the existence of the paragraph 32 [of the Consumer Rights Act 2015] power, and was satisfied as to conditions A and D, which sufficed,” the judge said adding there was “nothing in” this ground.

He also found that a police officer who accompanied the trading standards officers was lawfully present.

The officer was given information that some Timberland hoodies were suspected to be stolen property and “since he was lawfully present, he was empowered to seize the hoodies as he did”, the judge said, rejecting the argument that they had been wrongly removed.

Mark Smulian

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