Have you had your assets frozen? If you or someone you know is subject to proceedings under the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA), or Restraint Orders or Civil Asset Recovery, contact the specialist criminal defence lawyers at Qamar Solicitors urgently.
Being subject to a restraint order (also known as a ‘freezing orders’) can be very distressing and confusing. We will help you make sense of the situation and robustly help you defend any proceedings, challenge the order and have it lifted or varied wherever possible. We have a wealth of experience representing and defending clients facing such proceedings: contact us as early as possible for urgent advice on the best way forward.
Increase in restraint orders
The use of powers under the POCA by the CPS and the regulators is increasing, marking a robust drive to pursue those suspected of benefitting financially from crime.
Restraint orders are frequently sought early in the investigation stage, sometimes even before a suspected offender is charged with any offence. The potential impact on the individual, their families and their livelihoods can be devastating. For this reason, we take an aggressive approach to protect our clients as best we can.
What is a restraint order?
A restraint order is a court order prohibiting an individual or company from dealing with any property or assets held by them. A restraint order effectively preserves – or ‘freezes’ – property or assets which are potentially the proceeds of crime – pending possible confiscation proceedings following a conviction. An order is potentially far reaching, encompassing assets held in trust and abroad.
Restraint orders are served on individuals, or organisations (such as banks or other organisations holding property and assets for a suspected criminal). If the individual or organisation breaches a restraint order (with the exception of a modest allowance for everyday living expenses), they will be in contempt of court. Contempt of court is treated extremely seriously and could result in a fine or a prison sentence.
A restraint order can be accompanied by related orders in the court’s discretion, including requiring the subject of the restraint order to:
- make full disclosure of their assets within a short period of time
- repatriate assets to the UK
When can a restraint order be imposed?
Restraint orders are often served at the same time a suspect is arrested. However, a restraint order may be made at any time. On an application under s40 POCA, a judge can make an order where:
- A criminal investigation has been started in England and Wales with regard to an offence, and
- There is reasonable cause to believe the alleged offender has benefited from his or her criminal conduct
When will it end?
A restraint order will remain in force until either:
- A confiscation order is satisfied
- Investigations or proceedings end, or
- The order is otherwise discharged
How can we help?
As soon as you are aware an investigation is underway in connection with potentially illegal activity through which you have received financial benefit, an order could be made at any time. We will represent you with the goal of avoiding an order being made or, where this is not possible, influencing the terms on which any order is imposed
If a restraint order has already been made, we will seek to determine whether the order has been lawfully obtained and whether we can challenge it on your behalf. If we cannot have the order discharged, we may be able to have the order varied so that, for instance, you can pay your bills or continue to trade in your business.
However successful we are in challenging a restraint order, we cannot guarantee no charges will later be brought against you under POCA.
We have years of experience in representing clients facing restraint orders and confiscation proceedings. It is important to understand the potential distress and disruption to your life and that of your family and business if you do not get urgent legal representation. Contact the criminal defence lawyers at Qamar Solicitors immediately for urgent specialist legal advice.