Accessing land, premises or a place
We have statutory rights of immediate access under our access powers, although we will usually give you prior notice of our intention to access your records.
Before entering premises to access documents or information, we will usually try to locate an authorised person within the organisation or wait for them to arrive.
We may agree to postpone our examination of documents in respect of which you claim that access may be restricted for a reasonable amount of time if your adviser is not immediately available. If we do not postpone our access visit, we generally seek your agreement to continue our visit and quarantine those documents that may be subject to your claim.
Where there is a large amount of data, we may agree to a staged approach so that the documents can be reviewed in batches.
Accessing a private residence
If we are contemplating access to a private residence, we will first consider whether there are alternative ways of obtaining the documents and evidence.
When using our access powers to gain access to a private residence, we:
- have at least two of our officers attend the premises
- conduct the access during business hours, as far as possible
- attend with a female officer if we reasonably expect a female to be present at the residence.
Timing of visit
We usually discuss the timing of our access visit with you prior to our visit. We may consult with you beforehand to:
- give you reasonable notice of our intention to take access
- establish a convenient time for the access visit
- give you information about your rights and obligations
- seek your undertaking to keep documents secure
- determine who should be contacted at the time of access.
Our right of access can be exercised at all reasonable times. Access during your business hours is generally accepted to be reasonable. We may also agree to have access outside these hours to suit your availability or workloads. We usually seek your agreement if we require access to your premises outside business hours.
Maintaining the integrity of documents we wish to access is paramount. We may need to remain on your premises for an extended length of time to complete the access and keep the documents secure.
If we need to be at your premises for an extended period of time, we will work with you to avoid inconvenience. We may agree to secure the documents by sending them to an independent third party for keeping, or by placing them in a protected location.
When accessing documents and information at your premises, we have a statutory right to remain on the premises. We are protected from an action for trespass when acting in good faith and within the powers conferred by the law.
In some cases, having entered your premises and examined documents in cooperation with you, we need to move to a formal approach and use our access powers. These circumstances include where:
- you withdraw your cooperation so that we are no longer confident of obtaining all relevant documents
- we become aware of a second set of records, or that relevant information is being withheld
- we discover that documents are to be shredded, and you do not allow us to examine the documents before they are destroyed
- we discover information that was claimed not to exist
- you claim that documents are subject to privilege without providing any basis for the claim
- we have a reasonable belief that documents will be disposed of, altered or destroyed.