Asset Recovery

In the UK, there is a complex body of law that governs how to restrict the use of property that is suspected to be the result of illegality, and how to recoup assets lost or diminished as a result of litigation.

Bright Line Law has a wealth of experience of advising and representing clients to deal with all aspects of asset recovery law. Our goal is to assist clients to avoid being subject to disproportionate legal action, and to recover losses incurred as a result of either civil or criminal litigation. We take pride in providing advice and representation which has client interests at their core.

Civil and criminal asset recovery: what are the rules?

An important aspect of the asset recovery regime is the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) which enables prosecutors and regulators to limit the use of property deemed to be derived from criminal conduct.. The rules on civil and criminal asset recovery under POCA are distinct from one another and are dealt with under different sets of procedural and evidential rules. At Bright Line Law, we provide advice across the asset recovery regime, including:

Civil recovery claims

The law on civil recovery claims relates to situations where there is a concern that property or cash assets are the result of “unlawful conduct”. Further, they can pursue such action without the need for a criminal conviction. This entitles prosecutors, on a lower burden of proof and less stringent laws of evidence, to recover property that cannot be shown to have come from a lawful source. Civil recovery orders are incredibly popular and should be handled by specialist lawyers who are able to assess their credibility and expose weaknesses in the reasons supporting their use.

The rules on criminal asset recovery are very different from their civil comparators, and are dependent on a criminal conviction being secured. They include:

Confiscation orders

Confiscation order rules are rigid. They will follow an analysis by the courts of the benefit resulting from criminal conduct and the determination of a sum of money that is to be repaid by the guilty party. Specialist guidance should be sought where confiscation orders are being sought, with a view to reducing the figure that the courts are able to identify as being the benefit enjoyed from criminal behaviour.

Cash seizure

The law on cash seizure enables prosecutors to arrange for the seizure and detention of cash (a minimum of £1,000) that is deemed to be the result of, or used in, criminal activity. This can be withheld for a significant period of time, which can cause immense financial difficulty if not effectively challenged. There are also similar provisions under civil recovery law, which must also be the subject of specialist legal attention.

Recovery of losses suffered: what services are available?

There are various options available for both individuals and businesses that have suffered significant, losses as a result of their engagement with the legal process. At Bright Line Law, we provide advice and assistance to clients to seek out and recover losses:

Freezing/ search orders

We understand that some of our clients may have suffered as a result of fraudulent activity or other illegal behaviour. Freezing orders can be instrumental in restricting the ability of a party from making use of or disposing of their assets pending a further investigation. It is also possible for additional ‘search’ orders to be obtained, allowing for a closer examination of the party’s affairs and property where necessary.[N1] 

Compensation orders

Parties that have been the victim of an offence may have suffered significantly as a result. The law allows for compensation to be made out to those victims, if this can be clearly communicated to the courts. This will allow for the harm caused to be offset by an appropriate award, highlighting the gravity and extent of damage suffered.

Businesses and individuals can both be the subject of, and make use of, asset recovery law depending on their circumstances. However, it is imperative that any legal action involving the asset recovery regime is the subject of detailed investigation and advice by specialist legal advisors.

Expert asset recovery lawyers: contact Bright Line Law today

Asset recovery law is one of the most complex and misunderstood areas of the law. It requires detailed analysis of complex legislation, together with effective and expert advocacy to secure the correct outcome in asset recovery proceedings. If you are the subject of asset recovery action, or need guidance on the options available to recover property lost as a result of illegal or unscrupulous behaviour, you should consult a specialist lawyer to assist you. Both individuals and commercial bodies may find use for one or another aspect of asset recovery law, but making effective use of this will depend on the skills and knowledge of the lawyers you instruct.

Bright Line Law offers a unique service among commercial law firms: a barrister-led service that partners with other leading experts to support client needs. We have a strong presence in the field of asset recovery, acting for both corporate and individual clients in both civil and criminal matters. Contact the team at Bright Line Law today, and find out how our asset recovery team could assist you.

Jonathan Fisher QC
Lead Counsel

Telephone + 020 3872 2852

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