“Ashmans worked on my behalf to get almost half a million pounds unfrozen. The Freezing Order was overturned because Ashmans knew exactly how to handle my case. The fact is that they are definitely worth their fee. I would recommend them to anyone who needs help in financial legal cases.” West Yorkshire Police v JO.

Having a court freeze your £450,000 isn’t pleasant. Especially when you have done nothing wrong.

And yet Freezing Orders can be granted, without a moment’s notice to you. No warning. No phone call, email or letter. Time is of the essence. As soon as you are subject to a Freezing Order, get yourself an experienced solicitor.

Now let’s look at why and how this happens.

So why Freezing orders take place?

Courts typically freeze assets using a “Freezing Order” to prevent a Respondent, whether innocent or guilty, from moving their assets from beyond the jurisdiction of a court.

Moving assets is one way to frustrate a potential judgment – for example, having to hand over money and assets if a court case goes against you.

The Freezing Order – what it can do?

The Freezing Order can work for both companies and individuals. It can freeze all the assets or just some of them. An Applicant’s request for a Freezing Order, for example, someone who is taking you to court, is not always granted. Because the Freezing Order stops you accessing your assets, courts look very carefully at any application.

The type of Courts that can grant Freezing Orders.

The practical element of a Freezing Order is that the application is made by legal representatives, (the Applicant’s solicitors) to a judge. The main judges are;

  • Judges in the High Court – the most common route because emergency judges are on hand.
  • Circuit judges in the County Court.
  • Exceptionally if certain agreements are in place the Master or District Judge in the High Court or a District Judge in the County Court…

How are Freezing Order used by Applicants?

  • If someone has issued proceedings and thinks the Respondent will hide or dispose of assets
  • If someone has succeeded in winning a court case and wants to freeze the Respondent’s assets because they think they will be disposed of.
  • If someone wants to freeze a particular asset e.g. a Ferrari

The successful Freezing Order does not give the Applicant any priority over the assets. There may be others with equally valid claims, such as creditors. But Freezing Orders, can help with a claim over particular assets which have been purchased but not delivered e.g. the Ferrari bought from an insolvent garage…

Can All Assets be Frozen?

The short answer is yes. All types of assets, such as shares, bank accounts, land, cars, and even brand equity can be frozen. But the terms of the Freezing Order are strict. Only the assets which a judgement could affect can be attached to the order.

Often a freezing order will attempt to freeze assets that a respondent owns and/or does not own.’ This is because Applicants don’t always know what the Respondent owns. The Order is then amended once the facts are known.

Can Overseas Assets be Frozen?

English Courts can freeze assets abroad. The long arm of the law covers overseas. Specialised Worldwide Freezing Orders need specialised defence.

What Value Can a Freezing Order freeze?

There are 3 main categories

  • Maximum sum order e.g. the Court sets a £500,000 limit
  • All assets were frozen with a General Order
  • Specific Order attaches to a specific asset e.g. that Ferarri again.

How Can Anyone Live or carry on business when All Assets are Frozen?

Freezing orders can’t be used to stop someone running their company or being able to live. The Courts will allow suppliers to be paid. They will allow a living allowance e.g. £500 for food and bills, although this can be increased on occasion. Legal bills will also be allowed to be paid.

What about third parties? Can a Freezing Order be attached to them?

Let’s say a Respondent tries to sell a property in contravention of a Freezing Order. He tells his solicitors to sell the property. The solicitors can’t do this because they have been notified there is a Freezing Order on the property and if they act in a sale, they will be criminally liable.

Another way a Freezing Order can be applied to a third party is where they hold assets on behalf of the Respondent. This could be a bank for example.

Why Freezing Orders normally last for 7 days…

Freezing orders usually happen without the Respondent knowing. They are usually granted for a set number of days when the Respondent can attend court, often a week later at the second hearing.

At this hearing, the order can be extended, discharged, or varied, depending on the legal representation and judgement

At the same time as the Freezing Order, an Applicant can also be granted other Orders.

The most common of these is the Disclosure Order which is designed to help the Applicant get crucial information from the Respondent. There are a number of different Orders that can be applied for.

What happens if a Respondent takes out loans despite there being Freezing Order on assets?

Generally, a Respondent can take out loans providing he does not offer security for those loans against frozen assets. If it is unsecured debt, the main thing to be concerned about from an Applicant’s point of view is that by increasing debt, there would be more creditors. More creditors means more risk in not getting hold of assets after favourable proceedings.

Why Choose Us for your Fraud and Financial Crime case?

  • We are ranked as a leading firm in the Legal 500 – one of the foremost guides to law firms in the United Kingdom.
  • We have specialist Fraud and Financial Crime Defence solicitors available 24/7.
  • We are always on hand to give you the expert advice that you need.

Call us on 0333 009 6275. For more information see our dedicated Fraud and Financial Crime pages