Norwich Pharmacal Orders: Understanding the Procedure and Application

In this article, Ruby Keeler-Williams of Elysium Law discusses Norwich Pharmacal Orders, when they are suitable, and the application procedure

As part of our role in assisting Clients with Litigation, it is important to have a clear understanding of the tools available to obtain evidence and information. One such tool is a Norwich Pharmacal Order (NPO).

What is a Norwich Pharmical Order?

A Norwich Pharmacal Order is a court order that compels a third party, such as a bank or internet service provider, to disclose information or documents that are relevant to an alleged wrongdoer’s involvement in a wrongdoing. The order is named after the Norwich Pharmacal case, which established the principles of this type of order in English law.

In Norwich Pharmacal Co. and Others v Customs and Excise Commissioners [1974] AC 133, the House of Lords held that a person who is innocently involved in wrongdoing could be compelled to disclose information about the wrongdoing to the claimant. The case involved a group of companies that had unwittingly imported goods that were subject to excise duty. The companies sought an order compelling HM Customs and Excise to disclose the identity of the wrongdoers who had evaded the duty. The House of Lords granted the order, stating that the companies had a legitimate interest in the information and that HM Customs and Excise had facilitated the wrongdoing.

When is a Norwich Pharmacal Order suitable?

NPOs are typically used when a claimant knows that a wrongdoing has occurred but does not know the identity of the wrongdoer or the location of relevant evidence. This situation commonly arises in cases involving intellectual property infringement, defamation, or fraud. In such cases, the claimant may need to obtain information from third parties who have been innocently involved in the wrongdoing but who possess information or documents that are relevant to the claim.

An NPO can be granted if the following conditions are met:

  1. The applicant must have a good arguable case against the alleged wrongdoer. This means that the applicant must show that they have a reasonable chance of success if they were to bring legal proceedings against the alleged wrongdoer.
  2. The respondent must be mixed up in the wrongdoing, and it must be reasonable to expect that they have the information sought. This means that the respondent must be connected in some way to the wrongdoing. For example, if the alleged wrongdoer has used the respondent’s services or products, the respondent may have information that could help identify the alleged wrongdoer.
  3. The order must be necessary to enable the applicant to bring or defend legal proceedings. This means that the information sought must be relevant to the legal proceedings that the applicant intends to bring or defend.
  4. The order must not be sought for an improper purpose. This means that the applicant cannot seek an NPO for purposes such as harassment, or to obtain information for use in a personal vendetta or to gain a commercial advantage.

What is a Norwich Pharmacal Order?

In British Coal Corporation v Dennis Rye Ltd (No. 2) [1988] EWCA Civ J0225-4, the court clarified that NPOs can be granted even if the respondent is not directly involved in the wrongdoing, as long as they have information that is relevant to the case. The court also emphasised the importance of balancing the interests of the applicant and respondent and ensuring that the order is not overly burdensome.

In Ashworth Hospital Authority v MGN Ltd [2002] UKHL 29, the House of Lords clarified that NPOs are not limited to situations where the claimant has no other means of obtaining the information. The Court held that an NPO could be granted even if the claimant had other means of obtaining the information, as long as the order is necessary to facilitate the litigation and is proportionate. The Court also emphasized that an NPO is an equitable remedy, and its availability depends on the specific circumstances of each case. The claimant must establish that there is a legitimate interest in the information sought, and that the respondent is likely to have the information or documents that are sought.

This was expanded upon in Rugby Football Union v Viagogo Ltd [2012] EWHC 1908 (Ch). In this case, the court held that an NPO can be granted against a non-party to litigation, provided that the non-party is likely to have information that is relevant to the claim. This ruling expanded the scope of NPOs, allowing claimants to obtain information from third parties who may not be directly involved in the wrongdoing but may possess relevant information.

There are limits to what information can be obtained by a NPO, demonstrated in KPMG LLP v Harbottle & Lewis LLP [2018] EWCA Civ 1460, where the Court of Appeal held that an NPO can be granted against a solicitor who is not a party to the litigation but who possesses relevant information, but that this is subject to the solicitor’s professional duty of confidentiality.

Can Norwich Pharmacal Orders be used against foreign respondents?

In general, a NPO may be obtained against a foreign respondent, but there are limitations.

The case of Mitsui & Co Ltd v Nexen Petroleum UK Ltd [2005] EWHC 625 (Ch) dealt with the issue of whether an NPO can be granted to obtain information from a foreign respondent. The court held that NPOs can be granted against foreign respondents, as long as there is a sufficient connection to the UK jurisdiction and the order would not offend principles of comity (respect for other countries’ legal systems).

JSC BTA Bank v Mukhtar Ablyazov & ors (No. 12) [2011] EWHC 202, the court granted an NPO against a foreign respondent who had no assets in the UK, but who had used UK banks to launder money. The court found that there was a good reason to grant the order, as it was necessary to obtain information that would assist in recovering misappropriated assets.

It is important to note that enforcing an NPO against a foreign respondent can be challenging, as the order may not be recognised or enforceable in the respondent’s home jurisdiction. As such, it is important to consider the practicalities of enforcing the order before seeking an NPO against a foreign respondent.

How to apply for a Norwich Pharmacal Order?

To obtain an NPO, a claimant must file an application in court. The application must include specific information about the wrongdoing, the information or documents sought, and the respondent’s likely possession of the information or documents. The application must also show that the disclosure is necessary for the claimant to pursue the litigation and that the order is proportionate. The court will consider several factors when deciding whether to grant an NPO, including the nature of the wrongdoing, the legitimate interest of the claimant in the information sought, and the potential harm to the respondent or third parties. The respondent will have an opportunity to be heard before the court makes a final decision. It is important to note that NPOs can be costly and time-consuming to obtain, and they are not always granted. However, when an NPO is granted, it can be a powerful tool for obtaining relevant information in litigation proceedings.


Norwich Pharmacal Orders can be a valuable tool in Litigation, especially in cases involving intellectual property infringement, defamation, or fraud. NPOs allow claimants to obtain information from third parties who have been innocently involved in the wrongdoing but who possess information or documents that are relevant to the claim. However, obtaining an NPO can be a complex and costly process, and it is important to carefully consider the specific circumstances of each case before filing an application.

If you require more information or are think of instructing a firm to act for you in litigation, please Contact Us.

Protecting Yourself After a Data Breach: A Guide

In this article, Ruby Keeler-Williams of Elysium Law aims to clarify what your first steps should be if you have been affected by a personal data breach.

In recent years, data breaches have become increasingly common, and unfortunately, any individual is at risk of falling victim, however carefully they safeguard their data. If you have recently suffered from a breach of your personal data, it’s important to understand what steps you should take to protect yourself and your data.

6 Essential Steps to Take After a Personal Data Breach

  • Gather all the information related to the breach. This includes any emails or messages you’ve received about the breach, the type of data that has been compromised, and any other relevant details that may help in identifying the extent of the breach.
  • Contact the company or organisation responsible for the breach. They have a legal obligation to inform you of any data breaches that occur, and they should be able to provide you with more information about the breach and how it occurred. You can also ask them what steps they are taking to prevent future breaches and what measures they have put in place to protect your data.
  • If you’ve suffered any financial loss or identity theft as a result of the breach, you should report this to the relevant authorities immediately. In the UK, you can report these incidents to Action Fraud, which is the UK’s national fraud and cybercrime reporting centre. They will investigate the incident and provide you with advice on what to do next.
  • Consider contacting CIFAS, a not-for-profit organisation that offers protective registration services to help protect individuals from identity theft. This involves placing a warning flag on your credit file, alerting lenders to the potential risk of fraudulent applications.
  • Monitor your bank accounts, credit reports, and any other financial information for any unusual activity. If you notice anything suspicious, you should contact your bank or financial institution immediately.
  • You may be entitled to compensation for the damage caused by the breach. You should seek legal advice from a reputable law firm that specialises in data breach claims to determine whether you have a case and what steps you should take. Elysium Law have extensive experience in these matters and can assist you with this.

In conclusion, data breaches can be stressful and overwhelming, but there are steps you can take to protect yourself and your data. By gathering information, contacting the relevant authorities, monitoring your financial information, and seeking legal advice in addition to protective registration services from CIFAS, you can mitigate the damage caused by a data breach and protect yourself from future incidents.

If you have been affected by a Data Breach, please call Elysium Law via 0151 328 1968 or contact us via to see if we can assist you.

AI and Data Privacy: The Increasing Risk of Personal Data Breaches

In this article, Ruby Keeler-Williams of Elysium Law considers whether the recent developments in Artificial Intelligence have increased the risk of data breaches.

I was recently asked whether the recent developments in AI, particularly in relation to deep learning, and natural language processing have increased the risk of personal data breaches.

In my view, whilst AI will undoubtedly transform the way we live and work (in the legal profession alone, Allen & Overy have announced the use of an OpenAI developed prompt based generation tool, which I imagine will revolutionise how legal research and drafting is performed), it also poses unique risks and challenges when it comes to data privacy and security.

One potential risk is the use of AI in data processing. As AI algorithms become more sophisticated, they can be used to process vast amounts of data quickly and accurately. However, this will inevitably increase the demand for personal data as a ‘product’, meaning that increasing amounts of data will be collected and processed by companies. This will inevitably increase the risk of a breach of data, as the volume of data stored in systems vulnerable due to outdated software or hardware, or with unpatched vulnerabilities will only increase. The impact of a human error can also never be understated.

However, of particular interest is the potential, following the developments in natural language processing, for ‘Phishing’ scams to become more sophisticated and difficult to identify. NLP powered phishing scams have the potential to be particularly convincing because they can mimic human language and behaviour more accurately and, perhaps more pertinently, in a manner personalised to that individual. There is the potential for criminals to use NLP algorithms to analyse an individual’s social media activity, emails, or messages to create personalised, targeted phishing messages that appear genuine. The use of language will also inevitably make the messages more difficult to detect by traditional spam filters.

It has never been more important for individuals to be vigilant and cautious when receiving messages or emails that ask for personal information or include suspicious links or attachments. Businesses and organisations must also ensure that appropriate security measures are implemented to mitigate the risks posed by NLP-powered phishing scams. This should include training employees to recognise and report phishing attempts, implementing spam filters and firewalls.

If you have been affected by a breach of your personal data, please call us on 0151 328 1968 or contact us via to see if we can assist you.

Artificial Intelligence in the Legal Industry

In this article, David Brogelli of Elysium Law examines the increasing use of Artificial Intelligence in the Legal Industry and its practical applications going forward.

Artificial intelligence (AI) has been increasingly used in the field of law both in the United Kingdom and across the globe. There are a number of ways in which AI is being used to improve the legal process, including legal research, document review, and case prediction.


One of the main ways in which AI is being used in UK law is in the area of legal research. AI-powered legal research tools can quickly and accurately search through vast amounts of information, such as case law and statutes, making it easier for lawyers to find relevant information and make decisions. This can save time and money for both lawyers and more importantly their clients.

Another key area where AI is being used is in document review. This process is typically time-consuming and laborious, as it involves reading through large amounts of text to identify relevant information. AI-powered document review tools can help to automate this process, making it more efficient and accurate. This can be particularly useful in the context of e-discovery, where large volumes of electronic documents need to be reviewed in the context of litigation. Elysium Law uses powerful software which can help us sift through hundreds of thousands of pages to get the information we require.

Interestingly AI is also being used to predict the outcome of cases. By analysing patterns in past cases, AI algorithms can be trained to predict the likelihood of a particular outcome in a future case. This can be useful for lawyers and clients in planning their strategy and making decisions, although practically this is still in its infancy.

In addition, AI is being used to automate the contract review process, helping lawyers to identify errors, inconsistencies and identify missing information. This is particularly useful in the area of due diligence, where large numbers of contracts need to be reviewed.

However, it’s worth noting that AI isn’t without its limitations and challenges, such as bias and lack of transparency, etc. In order to ensure that AI is used in a responsible and ethical way, it’s important to have proper governance and regulations in place.


Of course, with any new development comes risk below are some of the limitations and concerns regarding the use of AI in the legal industry.

  1. Bias: AI systems may perpetuate and even amplify existing biases in the data they are trained on. This can lead to unfair or inaccurate decisions and is of course a very important consideration as the use of AI evolves. It also highlights the importance of human involvement.
  2. Lack of accountability: It can be difficult to determine who is responsible for errors made by AI systems, which can make it challenging to hold anyone accountable for those errors.
  3. Loss of jobs: The use of Artificial Intelligence in the legal industry may lead to job loss for lawyers and other legal professionals, as tasks that were previously done by humans may be automated. This is of course a global issue that will need addressing over the coming years as automation continues to increase and society develops.
  4. Complexity: The legal field is complex and nuanced, which can make it challenging for AI systems to accurately understand and interpret legal information.
  5. Lack of transparency: Some AI systems may be difficult to understand or explain, which can make it challenging for humans to understand how they are making decisions.


Overall, AI has the potential to significantly improve the legal industry both in the UK and globally, making it more efficient, accurate and cost-effective. As technology continues to develop, it’s likely that we will see more and more applications of AI in the legal field and we are certainly seeing significant investment from the UK Legal Industry. This of course will require regulation and the EU is leading in that regard. The European Commission already has a regulatory framework proposal that identifies the risks and uses of AI in the legal sector.

At Elysium Law we use several sophisticated programs to help us deal with clients’ matters efficiently and to save costs to the client. We continue to watch this development with interest.

‘Who is really controlling this litigation?’ Non-Party Costs Orders

In this article Richard Gray Barrister looks at the courts power to issue costs against a non-party; that is a party who is not directly involved in the litigation. Such orders may be considered against directors of an impecunious company formed only to protect the real litigators by the proposed use of the Company to litigate the claim.

The Statutory basis and the overall grounds for the award

Section 51 of the Senior Courts Act 1981, which is governed by CPR 46.2, gives the court power to award a non-party costs order. The award can be made in any court and the court is asked to exercise its jurisdiction to make it.

Generally, the only criterion for its application is whether, in all the circumstances, it is just to make the order. This is fact specific in each case.

Considerations for the Court to make the order

The court must consider whether the non-party is the (real) party interested in the outcome of the litigation, or

(i)         whether they have been responsible for bringing the proceedings; and

(ii)        that those proceedings were brought in bad faith; or

(iii)       there is some other conduct, which in all the circumstances, justifies the court in making the order.

It is not enough simply that the non-party is the sole director and controlling mind of a company. If, however, the interests of a company and its director were so close, it could be considered just to make the order against the director personally, the court will do so. Again, much is fact dependent and needs to be considered during the litigation.

If the non-party acted without impropriety or on legal advice, this does not prevent an order being made against them. However, a non-party costs order may be more likely to be made when the applicant can show improper conduct of litigation. See Turvill v Bird and others [2016] EWCA Civ 703

  • It will be exceptional for an order for costs to be made against a non-party where the applicant has a cause of action against the non-party and could have joined them as a party to the original proceedings.
  • There must be a costs order made against the primary party and there is no power to order the non-party to pay costs beyond those ordered to be paid by the claimant or defendant in the particular litigation.

Litigation Funders for Claimants

Generally, the jurisdiction will not be exercised against litigation funders meaning “those with no personal interest in the litigation, who do not stand to benefit from it and in no way seek to control its course.” (Hamilton v Al Fayed and others [2002] EWCA Civ 665)

Conversely however, there is authority to say that such orders can be issued against third-party funders who fund defences. See Merchantbridge & Co v Safron General Partner & another [2011] EWCH 1524.

Note however that if the funder effectively controls or participates in it, then they may be liable. See the case of  Arkin v Borchard Lines Ltd and others [2005] EWCA Civ 655


This is by no means settled law and the review of the authorities as to its necessity is beyond the scope of this article.

In Byrne v South Sefton Health Authority [2001] EWCA Civ 1904 the court said that it was necessary to determine whether the conduct complained of was really an effective cause of the costs incurred.

Generally, if there is no causation, whilst it may be possible to obtain the order, the granting of such orders will be rare.

An Application for Security for Costs – is it a prerequisite to the making of the order?

In any proposed litigation brought by a Company, a seasoned litigator would apply for security for their clients costs pursuant to CPR 25.

Those considerations will be the subject of a separate article given the litigation Our Clients are threatened with currently.  

Principles that the Court will consider in granting the order against a director

The court will consider the following non-exhaustive) principles:

(i)            Despite not being a party to the litigation, does the court consider that the non-party director properly be described as ‘the real party to the litigation’

(ii)        Where proceedings by an insolvent company are funded by a non-party solely or substantially for their own financial benefit, they should be liable for the costs, if the action brought or defended fails.

(iii)       To succeed impropriety need not be shown.

Section 51 orders may be made to avoid the injustice of an individual director hiding behind a Company and engaging in what they see as risk-free litigation for his own purposes (Re North West Holdings PLC and another [2001] EWCA Civ 67).

Such orders will not be made however where the Director is acting in proceedings to, for example protect shareholders. Of note here is that where a liquidator brings proceedings, the court will not usually make such an order.

In order to assess whether the director was the real party to the litigation, the question will be whether the individual director was seeking to benefit personally from the litigation.

It follows therefore, that before embarking upon funding of such litigation parties and their advisors are warned to consider whether in doing so, they are placing themselves at risk of being the recipient of such an order.


The courts power to award costs against non-parties is a significant incentive to dissuade others to encourage risky litigation. Where claims are made by Companies, litigators instructed to defend such claims should consider this power early in the proceedings and warn the other side in any pre-action correspondence.

If you require more information or are think of instructing a firm to act for you or your Company in litigation, then please email or visit our website.

Employee Benefit Trusts – Use, But Don’t Abuse

In this article Richard Gray Barrister gives an overview on the use of Employee Benefit Trusts and considers, even though the aggressive EBT schemes are a thing of the past, whether they are still being considered principally as a vehicle to avoid Inheritance Tax (IHT) and the potential pitfalls should that occur.

Having just finished a lengthy conference with a client, I was reminded of something a colleague of mine said, namely that; “Google is not kind to EBTs”.  If you were to Google the point, that appears to be correct and in this case the Client threw many questions at me surrounding the abusive arrangements for which they had previously been used. We now know all too well the effect of those arrangements and the misery they generated.

Aggressive schemes apart, there is very much a place for an EBT within the context of proper business planning and recently, Elysium Law has advised upon their use in the sale of a trading company where, prior to implementation, HMRC gave clearance.

Regrettably, there is still a temptation to use them purely as a vehicle for avoiding IHT and in this article I look at the consequences of the misuse of an EBT and simply ‘getting it wrong’.

Be warned of the use of an EBT in, for example, a small family company who just after incorporation of an investment portfolio now wants to avoid IHT by placing the shares into an EBT. It won’t work!

What is an EBT?

An EBT is a type of discretionary trust set up to fall within the definition of a trust for the benefit of employees within the provisions of Section 86 of the Inheritance Tax Act 1984 (IHTA 1984). This provides exemptions from inheritance tax (IHT) for certain transactions involving qualifying EBTs.

Special Treatment of Section 86 Trusts

The following should be noted in relation to a section 86 trust

It is not a relevant property trust;

A section 86 trust is not a relevant property trust.  Relevant property trusts are subject to the specific inheritance tax regime in Chapter III, Part III of the Inheritance Tax Act 1984. Therefore, a section 86 trust it is not subject to the IHT charges such as the exit charge and the ten-yearly charge.

Transfer of Value to an EBT

If a close company makes a transfer of value to an EBT, this will be a chargeable transfer, apportioned to the participators under section 94, IHTA 1984.

There are, however, four possible reliefs and exemptions that may be available:

  • Dispositions not intended to confer a gratuitous benefit;
  • Dispositions allowable for corporation tax.
  • Disposition for the benefit of employees.
  • Business property relief.

Section 13 of the Act deals with transfers of value into the Trust.

Consideration is then to be given to the effects of Section 239 of the Taxation of Chargeable Gains Act 1992., which gives the exemption of CGT for the ‘transfer in’ of the assets.

Inheritance tax

Section 28, IHTA 1984 provides that a transfer of value by an individual to an EBT will be an exempt transfer where the following condition is satisfied:

  • The EBT is a section 86 trust with restricted beneficiaries.

However, the reliefs granted are subject to anti avoidance provisions without which it would be easy to use the EBT exemptions to transfer wealth from one generation of a family to another without adverse IHT and CGT consequences

Should an EBT be considered abusive by HMRC, then the trust will be treated as a Relevant Property Trust and a short contrast with that regime, as opposed to EBTs, must be considered.

Inheritance Tax considerations

Lifetime gifts into discretionary trusts are chargeable lifetime transfers (CLTs).  IHT will be charged at the lifetime rate of 20% on the amount above the settlor’s nil rate band. There is

10-year periodic charge

Discretionary trusts are ‘relevant property’ trusts because the trust assets are not included in the taxable estate of any of the beneficiaries, the trust itself will be assessed to IHT. That means that on each 10-year anniversary the trust is taxed on the value of the trust less the nil rate band available to the trust. The rate they pay on this excess is 6% (calculated as 30% of the lifetime rate, currently 20%).

Capital Gains Tax – Gifts into trust

Lifetime gifts of existing assets into trust, other than gifts of cash or the assignment of investment bonds, will be disposals for CGT.

During the life of the trust

If the trustees dispose of trust assets the gains are calculated in the same way as for an individual and taxed at the trust rates of CGT. The trust rates are 20% or 28% for residential property.

If the EBT is reclassified by HMRC as a Relevant Property Trust, then penalties and interest will apply and therefore extreme caution must be exercised when advising on the set up of the EBT

DoTAS and the final word

Again, a detailed consideration of these provisions is beyond the scope of this article, but advisors should consider whether placing shares in a small investment company with no employees will fall within the DoTAS legislation. In my view it does and the temptation to do this must be avoided

IHT hallmark a revision from the previous legislation

The IHT arrangement Regulations 2017 were made on 29 November 2017 and came into force on 1 April 2018, replacing the previous IHT hallmark.

Arrangements to which the IHT hallmark applies

The IHT hallmark applies to arrangements if it would be reasonable to expect an informed observer to conclude that both of the conditions below are met.

Condition 1

The main purpose, or one of the main purposes, of the arrangements is to enable a person to obtain one or more of a list of specific advantages in relation to IHT (tax advantage).

The specific advantages are:

  • The avoidance or reduction of a relevant property entry charge, the ten-year anniversary and exit charges.

(Regulation 4(2), IHT Arrangements Regulations 2017.)

Condition 2

The arrangements involve one or more contrived or abnormal steps without which a tax advantage could not be obtained.

(Regulation 4(3), IHT Arrangements Regulations 2017.)

EBTs if used properly have a significant place in Tax and Business planning. If you want further advice upon the use EBTs, EOTs and of an EBT upon the proposed sale of trading company, then contact us via email at or call 0151 328 1968