Legal update: Tips on protecting yourself during criminal arrest and execution of search warrants in Hong Kong with proper legal representation


The Commercial Crime Bureau obtained search warrants to search our client’s two residential properties and company office in Hong Kong. The CCB carried out “dawn raids” simultaneously on all three locations. We were able to provide immediate advice and assistance. No items were seized from the residential properties. We monitored the execution of the search at the company office to ensure that all items seized were authorized under the terms of the search warrant. The search took approximately 20 hours. CCB seized a large quantity of computer and documentary items. The items were referenced and listed on more than 50 pages. Challenges were raised on the seizure of some items that appeared not to fall within the terms of the warrant. Based on these contemporaneous challenges representation can be made in Court on the admissibility in evidence of items wrongly seized.

Both clients were arrested. The first was a lady in her late 60s with a medical condition. We accompanied her throughout her time in custody and arranged for the large majority of that time to be spent at hospital.

We were eventually able to negotiate a release on bail for both clients.

The quantity of electronic and documentary items seized by CCB brought the company’s ongoing business to a halt. Following negotiation with the investigation team, we were able to secure agreement to recover copies of all essential documentation and computer software needed by the company for its ongoing business.

In consequence of our advice and assistance given to both clients, they exercised their right to remain silent when interviewed. CCB carried out interviews of each client by video recording. Despite exercising the right to silence, the two clients were interviewed respectively for periods of 1 hour 10 minutes and 2 hours 30 minutes. In respect of the video interview of the elderly client, our solicitor had to intervene on a number of occasions to ensure the client was provided with appropriate legal advice. It is a practice of CCB and the police to warn solicitors before a video recorded interview begins that they cannot speak during the course of the interview. This is not correct. The purpose of the lawyer in the interview is to advise the client on the law and his/her rights. The police may use many techniques to lull the client into answering the questions put. It is essential that the client is reminded of their right to silence if the police questioning may tend to suggest otherwise.

In respect of the other client, she was interviewed for 2.5 hours and throughout she also exercised her right to silence. At the end of interview, the interviewing officer reported that the interview had not recorded. The time was now late in the evening. CCB insisted on taking a further interview from the client. Usually to proceed immediately into another interview would have been oppressive and we would have told CCB that the client needed rest. However, given the client was under arrest and in custody, we were able to negotiate a short interview followed by immediate release on bail.

Philip Swainston

For further information, please contact:
Jeff Lane
Partner | Email

Disclaimer: This publication is general in nature and is not intended to constitute legal advice. You should seek professional advice before taking any action in relation to the matters dealt with in this publication.