If you own assets with someone who is currently facing confiscation proceedings, the court should invite you to make representations to protect your share. Otherwise, you could be unfairly penalised for someone else’s criminal activity.

Confiscation Proceedings

If you are concerned that your assets could be confiscated by the UK courts, please contact us at Ashmans Solicitors. Our fraud and financial crime solicitors represent convicted defendants and third parties who hold an interest in the assets. We can apply our legal expertise to secure a favourable outcome on your behalf.

Confiscation proceedings

When an individual is found guilty of a criminal offence in England or Wales, the authorities may subsequently seek a confiscation order. This is allowed under the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) 2002. The purpose is to confiscate any wealth that has been acquired through criminal activity. The authorities want to ensure that an offender does not continue to benefit from their criminal past.

Related: What Are Proceeds of Crime Act Proceedings?

Third party interests

However, this could unfairly penalise other people who also have an interest in the asset (or assets) in question. For example, take a spouse who owns a property jointly with their husband or wife. If that husband or wife is convicted of a financial crime, the property may fall under the scope of POCA proceedings. Yet the spouse has not been convicted; he or she may have been completely ignorant of their partner’s criminal activity. It would, therefore, be hugely unfair if the family home was confiscated. It could also have an adverse impact on their children or other dependants, all of whom are innocent.

Family members are not the only ones who might be wrongly affected by confiscation proceedings. Business partners, investors and anyone who has helped the defendant financially could be at risk.

Section 10A – third party interests

Previously, third parties were unable to make representations to the court during confiscation proceedings. They had to wait until the enforcement stage, when the confiscation order had already been made.

The law was changed in 2015 with the introduction of Section 10A. Now, the court can determine third party interests before the confiscation order is issued. However, there are still some limitations, as this right is triggered by the court and not the third party themselves. This means that if you have an interest in an asset that is at risk of confiscation, you cannot plead your case to the court until the court has invited you to do so.

How does it work in practice?

When the authorities apply for a confiscation order, the court must consider whether a third party may hold an interest in any of the assets in question. If so, the court can ask the third party to clarify their legal and financial position in relation to that asset. The third party may be told to provide this information in a specific format by a particular date. Failure to comply with the court’s request could be detrimental going forward.

Once the court has all the necessary information, it will decide on the terms of the confiscation order. These may be determined so as to protect the interests of the third party.

If the confiscation order does not take your third party interests into account, then you may be able to pursue an appeal. However, this avenue may be closed if you were asked for a statement of information from the court, but you failed to respond to the request without good reason.

Preparing your statement of information

If you are asked to provide a statement of information detailing your interest in a property, we recommend speaking to our fraud and financial crime solicitors. It is absolutely vital that you represent your true position with regards to your interest/ownership in the property or asset. Otherwise, the court could determine the confiscation order based on inaccurate information.

Third parties are often caught up in confiscation proceedings, particularly spouses, children, family members and business partners. We can gather evidence that establishes your interest and will make representations to the court on your behalf. With our help, you can protect your share of an asset or property, ensuring you are not wrongly penalised for someone else’s actions.

Contact our fraud and financial crime solicitors

If you are at risk of confiscation proceedings, whether as a primary defendant or as a third party, please contact our fraud and financial crime solicitors. We can help you.

Call us on 0333 009 6275. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

You can also email us on enquiries@ashmanssolicitors.com or complete our Free Online Enquiry Form and we will contact you.