Legal Case Studies

Anton Piller Applications

An Anton Piller Application (the Application) is an evidence-preserving mechanism. If the Court grants an Anton Piller Order, the applicant will be entitled to enter the other party’s premises to search for and seize any crucial evidence for the case which the applicant believes will be destroyed imminently.

The Application is an ex parte application, meaning that it is made by the applicant only and no notice, or opportunity to object, is given to the other party.

The nature of the Application means that the other party’s rights may be infringed. To combat this, the Application is subject to stringent procedural requirements and assessment by the Court.
Case law sets out the requirements for an Application and the imperative to preserve the other party’s rights.

In Viziya Corporation (Viziya) v Collaborit Holdings (Pty) Ltd (Collaborit) and Others (2018) ZASCA 189, Viziya entered into an agreement with Collaborit to sell Viziya’s products in exchange for fees. Viziya terminated the agreement when it suspected a breach by Collaborit. Viziya subsequently obtained an Anton Piller Order which allowed Viziya to search for and acquire evidence of the breach at Collaborit’s premises. The Anton Pillar Order was later set aside by the High Court and leave to appeal was refused.

This decision to refuse leave to appeal was appealed by Viziya before the Supreme Court of Appeal (the Court). The Court was required to consider whether the Aton Piller Order had been appropriately granted and whether further evidence could be led on appeal.

In its decision, the Court sets out the requirements for an Aton Piller Order, including:

A prima facie case- The court found that Viziya had not established a case for breach of contract, unlawful competition and use of confidential information by Collaborit, owing to a lack of evidence.

Specific and specified items constituting crucial evidence- The Court reiterated that a blanket search for unspecified evidence is not permitted as this is essential to protect the rights of the other party. Viziya’s did not specify or identify the information in Collaborit’s possession that needed to be preserve. This suggested a “fishing expedition” rather than an attempt to preserve evidence that existed.

A reasonable apprehension that the other party will destroy or hide evidence- The Court held that Viziya had not satisfied this test as it “failed to set out any factual basis for an objective conclusion to be reached of the well-founded and reasonable apprehension that evidence would be concealed” or destroyed by Collaborit. Viziya could not substantiate its allegations of dishonesty on the part of Collaborit.
As Viziya was unable to establish the requirements for the Anton Piller Order, the Court dismissed the appeal and held that the Anton Piller Order was erroneously granted.

An Anton Piller Application is a useful tool to preserve relevant evidence to support your case. Make use of legal assistance to ensure that you meet the Court’s requirements for the Application and do not unnecessarily infringe on the other party’s rights or use the Anton Piller application as a means to fish for evidence. Be specific about the evidence you wish to preserve.