Have your say on the Crime (Overseas Production Orders) Bill

06 December 2018

Do you have relevant expertise and experience or a special interest in the Crime (Overseas Production Orders) [Lords] Bill, which is currently passing through Parliament?

If so, you can submit your views in writing to the House of Commons Public Bill Committee which is going to consider this Bill.

The Public Bill Committee is now able to receive written evidence. The sooner you send in your submission, the more time the Committee will have to take it into consideration.

The Committee will only meet on Tuesday 18 December 2018. It will stop receiving written evidence at the end of the Committee stage, which is expected to be not later than 5.00pm on Tuesday 18 December 2018. However, please note that when the Committee concludes its consideration of the Bill it is no longer able to receive written evidence and it can conclude earlier than the expected deadline of 5.00pm on Tuesday 18 December 2018.*

* In the last Parliamentary Session, the following Public Bill Committees concluded their consideration of the Bill earlier than scheduled: Criminal Finances, Cultural Property (Armed Conflicts), Health Service Medical Supplies (Costs), Neighbourhood Planning, Savings (Government Contributions), Technical and Further Education, Commonwealth Development Corporation, Children & Social Work, National Citizen Service, and Bus Services.

Aims of the Bill

The Bill would enable law enforcement agencies and prosecutors to apply through the UK courts for a court order requiring service providers outside the UK to produce or grant access to electronic data for the purposes of investigating and prosecuting serious crimes. Such an order would be known as an ‘overseas production order’. Applications could only be made if there was an international agreement in place between the UK and the territory where the relevant provider was based. To date, no such agreements have been concluded, but the UK has been negotiating a bilateral data-sharing agreement with the United States since 2015. An application for an overseas production order could only be granted if the judge was satisfied that the data was likely to be of substantial value to the criminal proceedings or investigation for which it was being requested, and that production of the data would be in the public interest.

The Government has stated that the ability to apply for an overseas production order through the domestic courts would make the process for gaining cross-border access to electronic data faster and more reliable than the current processes which rely on mutual legal assistance treaties. These have been criticised for being too bureaucratic and time-consuming. The Government has stated that the Bill would bring into line the powers of the courts to seek access to data stored by companies based in the UK with those based in territories with which the UK has a relevant international agreement. Electronic data can already be obtained if there are reasonable grounds for believing it is stored on, or accessible from, premises in the UK. While the Investigatory Powers Act 2016 allowed for the acquisition of data from overseas for investigation purposes, it does not apply to the use of such data on an evidential basis.

Provisions in the Bill set out:

  • Scope and reach of an overseas production order and who may apply for one.
  • Requirements which need to be met before a judge makes an overseas production order and what must be included in the application for an order.
  • Restrictions on serving an overseas production order, including the time period within which the data covered by the overseas production order must be supplied.
  • Additional safeguards and protections for certain types of data [such as confidential personal records and confidential journalistic material].
  • The ways in which an overseas production order can be served.

The Home Office has produced explanatory notes, a factsheet, an impact assessment and a delegated powers memorandum to accompany the Bill.

Follow the progress of the Crime (Overseas Production Orders) [Lords] Bill

The Bill has completed its passage through the House of Lords and was introduced in the House of Commons on 20 November 2018. It had its Second Reading in the House of Commons on 3 December 2018.

This Bill has now been committed to a Public Bill Committee which will hold its first meeting on Tuesday 18 December 2018.

Guidance on submitting written evidence

Deadline for written evidence submissions

The Public Bill Committee is now able to receive written evidence. The sooner you send in your submission, the more time the Committee will have to take it into consideration and possibly reflect it in an amendment. The order in which amendments are taken in Committee will be available in due course under Selection of Amendments on the Bill documents pages. Once the Committee has dealt with an amendment it will not revisit it.

The Committee will only meet on Tuesday 18 December 2018. It will stop receiving written evidence at the end of the Committee stage, which is expected to be not later than 5.00pm on Tuesday 18 December 2018. However, please note that when the Committee concludes its consideration of the Bill it is no longer able to receive written evidence and it can conclude earlier than the expected deadline of 5.00pm on Tuesday 18 December 2018.

Your submission should be emailed to scrutiny@parliament.uk

Further guidance on submitting written evidence can be found here (PDF PDF 1.25 MB).

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