Duhaime's Law Dictionary


Anton Piller Order Definition:

A court order allowing a party to litigation to enter the premises of another to search for and, if found, remove specified documents or items.

Injunctive relief named after the case in which it was conceived and emulated ever since by common law courts.

In Viacom Ha!, Justice Tremblay-Lamer wrote:

"It is trite law that to justify the issuance of an Anton Piller order the moving party must demonstrate an extremely strong prima facie case; the damage, potential or actual, must be very serious; and there must be clear evidence that the defendants have in their possession incriminating documents or things, and that there is a real possibility that they may destroy such material before any application inter partes can be made.

... (T)he first two conditions are normally satisfied through proof of title to intellectual property rights and clear evidence of infringement. The third condition, likelihood that an infringer will dispose of important evidence, is normally the crucial element of proof required to obtain an Anton Piller order."

Similarly, in Bell ExpressVu v Rodgers, Justice Pepall wrote:

"An Anton Piller order is extraordinary relief. As such, the test for granting an Anton Piller order requires the moving party to show: (a) a strong prima facie case; (b) very serious damage, actual or potential for the moving party; (c) convincing evidence that the respondent has in its possession incriminating documents or things; and (d) a real possibility that it may destroy such material before the discovery process can do its work."

In Ridgewood, Justice Corbett sought to codify the law as regards Anton Piller orders; suggesting that it was a:

"... search warrant ... an exercise of the court's inherent jurisdiction to protect its own process. The order does not authorize entry. Rather, it commands the defendant to permit entry. The defendant may deny entry, and thereafter face contempt proceedings and possible adverse inferences. However, the plaintiff's agents may not use force to effect entry in the face of the defendant's denial of permission.

"Anton Piller orders play an increasingly important role in protecting businesses from disgruntled or departing employees. These orders protect the court's own process, important property interests and the values underlying the relationship between employer and employee. The premise of these orders is that (a) the defendant is likely to act to frustrate the order if given notice of it in advance; and (b) there is a strong prima facie case that the defendant has already acted very badly."

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