In five recent judicial review applications brought against the Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) and the Magistrate (HCAL 2132, 2133, 2134, 2136 and 2137/2018), the Court of First Instance dismissed challenges to the SFC's decisions to seize and retain digital devices during its search operations. The Court has confirmed the wide scope of documents that can be seized by the SFC and the SFC's power to require production of passwords to email accounts or digital devices.

Under the Securities and Futures Ordinance (SFO), the SFC is empowered, among other things, to require production of relevant information, compel a person to attend an interview for answering questions, and apply to a Magistrate for a search warrant to enter and search premises and seize documents. Such search operations (often referred to as "dawn raids") can include a company's office premises or an individual's private residence.

Our alert discusses the implications of the Court's decision and suggests practical steps to better prepare for dawn raids and protect your data.

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