The Proceeds of Crime Act (“POCA”) 2002 has had a dramatic impact on the criminal law and the ability of prosecutors to recover monies that it believes are the result of illegal activity. In 2017 POCA will also be significantly enhanced with the introduction of the Unexplained Wealth Order regime. Individuals facing investigation and formal proceedings under POCA risk being stripped of many of their assets, unless they instruct an experienced legal advisor to defend them in POCA proceedings and protect what may be the results of perfectly legal activity.
Bright Line Law is a leading law firm providing advice and representation to individual and corporate clients facing legal action under the proceeds of crime legislation. We understand that the idea of having significant assets removed from you or your business can be a very serious issue, and may have significant consequences for your personal or business affairs. We deploy our practical experience of challenging prosecutors’ actions under POCA and subjecting claims of illegality to rigorous legal analysis.POCA is an incredibly complex area of the law that demands careful handling by specialist lawyers. If you need to speak to a lawyer about responding to allegations of criminal conduct under POCA, our team will be able to help you.
Resisting attempts to recover property
The primary purpose of POCA proceedings is to recover the fruits of criminal behaviour. There are a variety of tools available to achieve this end. POCA proceedings must be handled by experienced counsel in order to determine the propriety of it being raised in the first place.
Responding to Restraint Orders
Prosecutors will attempt to prevent individuals from making use of monies that are believed to be connected with criminal activity, via a restraint order. The burden lies with the prosecution to evidence that the specified monies are connected with criminal behaviour. This must be met by strong rebuttal by a defence team that is able to weaken the persuasiveness of prosecutors’ argument. The facts of the situation must be forensically reviewed and the suggested criminal link tested.
At Bright Line Law, we have a great deal of experience of acting in proceedings involving restraint orders. Our team are highly adept at reviewing the situation, including small but crucial details which can be overlooked. We also have experience of acting for parties that have not been directly involved with alleged criminal behaviour, but whose assets will be captured if a restraint order if it is granted.
Resisting Confiscation Orders
Prosecutors use confiscation orders in order to recover assets following an admission or ruling on a party’s guilt (a conviction). These operate on the basis of the courts making certain inferences as to the benefit that has been derived from the criminal activity, and then determine how much property needs to recovered to reflect this. This can result in substantial holdings being taken away in order to ‘make up’ for the criminal lifestyle that has been led. It is vital that confiscation orders are brought to the attention of specialist POCA lawyers that are highly adept at limiting their impact on client interests.
Bright Line Law have a wealth of experience in investigating what is claimed to be the ‘criminal lifestyle benefit’ figure that is considered by the courts, and taking steps to reduce it. We use our substantive knowledge of the applicable law as well as our strong professional relationships with specialist forensic investigators in the worlds of accountancy and taxation to analyse the figures proposed and present strong arguments to have them reduced.
Challenging Civil Recovery Orders
Prosecutors have significant resources at their disposal even where they are not convinced that they would succeed at a criminal trial in the form of civil recovery orders. Used where there is a belief that property is likely to be the gains of criminality but lacking a conviction, there is a real risk of these powers being misapplied. It will take a combination of skills and expertise to successfully resist such an order being granted.
At Bright Line Law our POCA team has expertise in challenging civil recovery orders. We routinely work in partnership with other professionals to analyse law enforcement applications, and to deploy a convincing counter argument fully supported by legal expertise and comprehensive financial data.
Instruct recognised experts in the field
The POCA regime can be incredibly challenging to deal with, and can have a marked impact on the affairs of both individuals and businesses. It is vital in dealing with the authorities under the proceeds of crime legislation to instruct a specialist lawyer with the knowledge and skills required to provide an effective defence to allegations under the POCA regime.
At Bright Line Law, we are experts in representing individual and corporate clients that are facing legal action under the POCA regime. We understand that your primary concern will be to preserve what assets are capable of protection, and minimise the losses that will be suffered. We are unique in the legal profession and combine the formidable advocacy skills of barristers together with the specialist legal expertise of a law firm dedicated to advising clients on all aspects of financial crime. Our team are highly respected across industry for their awareness of client needs and concerns. Our role is to ensure that our clients are given the maximum protection from potentially disastrous results of falling foul of draconian legislation. We take pride in the pragmatism and objectivity that we bring to cases, and provide clear direction to clients on how best to respond in situations concerning the proceeds of criminal activity. Led by our lead counsel, Jonathan Fisher QC, our POCA team use their ability to strategise and plan effectively to safeguard our clients. If you would like to speak to one of our team, contact us now.