Queensland Law Society

Search warrant guidelines initiative

Queensland Law Society has partnered with Queensland Police Service to produce guidelines addressing the process to be followed and obligations to be met in the event of the execution of a search warrant on solicitors’ premises in Queensland by Queensland police.

This initiative, driven by QLS president Bill Potts and endorsed by QLS Council, is being undertaken by Justine van Winden, who has commenced a contract to write, develop and publish the guidelines.

Justine, a PhD candidate with substantial experience in the area of search warrants, has already met with a Queensland Police representative and QLS stakeholders.

The execution of search warrants by police on solicitors’ offices causes problems for the police, practitioner and the public. These vary from access to documents, interference in the running of practices, and potential access to client documents without due cause.

To date, this process has been regulated by guidelines agreed to last century. It has been left behind by the passage of time and, in any case, was not comprehensive in its coverage of the issues involved.

In the last two years there have been reported instances of protracted proceedings arising out of uncertainty on the obligations in this process.

QLS is excited to be leading the profession by initiating the authoring of the new guidelines, which will bring certainty to its subject area and ensure the rights of all participants are protected according to law as well as the ethical obligations of both practitioners and police.