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16 Feb 2021

The SFO and KBR: UK Supreme Court limits extraterritorial effect of SFO powers

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In R (on the application of KBR, Inc) (Appellant) v Director of the Serious Fraud Office (Respondent) [2021] UKSC 2 the Supreme Court held that the Serious Fraud Office (“SFO”) may not compel a foreign company to produce documents held overseas under section 2(3) of the Criminal Justice Act 1987.

The Supreme Court’s judgment has been reported as a significant setback for the SFO, limiting its powers to obtain evidence from overseas. However, with regard to the specific facts of the KBR case, and the existence of alternative means to secure evidence that are available to the SFO, it is unlikely that the Supreme Court’s decision will have a significant detrimental impact on the SFO in the vast majority of the cases it investigates.

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