Tuckers Solicitors can provide legal advice and representation to clients who have been served with Restraint Orders, as to the subsequent legal proceedings.
Restraint Orders enable prosecuting authorities to freeze the assets of an individual, for the purpose of protecting them for potential future confiscation hearings, in the event that an individual is convicted or pleads guilty to an offence. They are usually obtained in cases where an individual is being investigated for fraud, money laundering or serious drug offences.
Our expert lawyers can advise you as to the validity of the Restraint Order and challenge the making of the Order as well as its terms.
If you are affected by such proceedings it is necessary to seek immediate specialist legal advice. Our lawyers are available 24 hours a day, providing immediate, first-class legal advice, representation and assistance during legal proceedings. Please contact our Confiscation, Restraint and Cash Forfeiture Department on 020 7388 8333 or email email@example.com
The Best Approach to Challenging POCA Restraint Orders
Available under the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) 2002, restraint orders are used by prosecutors in high-value criminal cases, such as those involving fraud or illegal drugs, to freeze property while an investigation or prosecution is in progress. They tend to be obtained ex parte (without prior notification to the recipient), often before an arrest or charges are brought, and in some cases, where primary proceedings have been instigated in a different jurisdiction.
A restraint order is a draconian enforcement measure with wide reaching effect. Until the order is discharged, the recipient will lose all control over their property (possibly including assets held abroad) and granted only a meagre living allowance. It is, therefore, vital for the terms of a restraint order to be rigorously scrutinised and, where necessary, challenged to ensure the recipient’s rights are being respected.
Tucker’s Proceeds of Crime and Complex Case Unit, headed by highly experienced partner and criminal defence solicitor Leigh Wright, have represented many companies and individuals restricted by restraint orders – often those with global effect. We are widely respected and regarded as technically proficient and experienced – so much so that our competitors often recommend us to their clients for confiscation advice and representation.
Here we provide an overview of some of the issues surrounding restraint orders and how we overcome them, demonstrating our long tradition of searching out little-used lacunas in law and testing the reliability of scientific evidence. If you are the recipient of a restraint order, please contact our proactive POCA specialists for expert advice and representation by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by phone on 0161 233 4321 (ext. 1014) or 07711 679 879.
Challenging POCA Restraint Orders – Tools in the Defence Arsenal
We robustly challenge restraint orders, not only using common arguments but also less used, equally valuable, defence tools. Our proactive approach allows us to staunchly protect our clients’ rights against oppressive laws; while our network of highly competent witnesses help us to take a thorough approach to every case.
Abuse of Process
After notice of a restraint order, our specialist defence lawyers examine every inch of material submitted by the prosecution in support of the application, especially if the order is obtained ex parte. If it appears procedure has not been correctly followed, for example, where exculpatory intelligence has not been disclosed, it is highly likely to amount to an abuse of process.
Abuse of process – using a court’s process in an unfair or wrong manner – can lead the court to strike out the case. Our firm has had success in this area in recent fraud/organised drug crime and complex POCA cases. For example, in a class A drugs trial involving numerous defendants, we exposed the fact that evidence advantageous to our clients had been buried in a separate murder investigation. The case was successfully argued, leading to the acquittal of all the defendants and an end to the trial. Tellingly, the CPS did not seek to appeal the terminating judgment.
We suspect that procedural errors, such as where disclosure officers are failing to properly put material before both the prosecution and defence, may be frequently occurring. We remain ever vigilant and will continue to robustly challenge the validity of POCA enforcement measures where we believe our clients are victims of an abuse of process.
Questionable ‘Scientific’ Evidence
Expert witnesses provide invaluable assistance in complex fraud and organised drug crime POCA cases, which often involve complex financial and technical evidence. Tuckers’ community of expert witnesses – made up of forensic accountants, drug experts, conveyance solicitors and valuation experts – apply their specialist knowledge and skills to help our criminal defence solicitors identify weaknesses with prosecution evidence, as well as uncovering important information that supports our clients’ defence.
Tuckers’ Manchester office is currently in the process of challenging the police’s reliance on mass spectrometry (or ‘mass spec’) evidence, a technique used to analyse bank notes for traces of illegal drugs. The results are often relied upon to suggest clients were in recent contact with drugs, despite the scientific community widely accepting that the process for extracting this evidence broadly comes down to guess work. This is an example of where our multi-disciplinary approach has been instrumental, by allowing us to identify and argue against the questionable nature of this science.
Challenging the Law
When faced with draconian enforcement measures like restraint orders, it is important that defence solicitors take a proactive approach to protecting the rights of their existing and future clients. Regrettably, POCA’s severity was compounded in 2015 thanks to amendments made by the Serious Crime Act.
Under the 2015 Act, the test for whether a restraint order should be granted has changed from ‘reasonable cause to believe that the alleged offender has benefitted from his criminal conduct’ to ‘reasonable grounds for suspecting’ – a much easier standard to meet. What’s more, restraint orders can remain in force where a conviction is quashed and retrial instructed.
To protect our clients’ best interests, our team pays close attention to how the changes to POCA are being interpreted by the courts. Tuckers’ POCA Unit is currently challenging the retrospective nature of certain amendments in a number of ongoing cases.
Contact our Specialist Restraint Order Solicitors in Lawyers Manchester, Birmingham, London
Our Special Casework Department is highly experienced in defending businesses and high net worth individuals in worldwide restraint order cases. We thoroughly challenge the validity and terms of restraint orders so as to limit their impact on our clients’ professional and personal lives, and have successfully represented clients in a wide range of trials, including those involving illegal drugs, serious fraud or where the primary proceedings are instigated overseas.
If your assets have been frozen by a restraint order, our solicitors can assist immediately. We are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Please contact our Special Casework Team by emailing email@example.com, or speak to Leigh Wright on 0161 233 4321 (ext. 1014) or 07711679879.