The Law Commission has recommended that the rules regarding confiscation orders be reformed. This could result in an extra £8 million being confiscated every year.

Law Commission

Our fraud and financial crime solicitors deal with all aspects of financial crime, including confiscation orders and restraint orders. If your assets are under threat due to a criminal conviction, please get in touch with us for expert legal advice. We represent clients across England and Wales. We can take your call 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

What is a confiscation order?

A confiscation order is a type of court order that seeks to recover the proceeds of crime. It is issued when someone has been convicted of a criminal offence and has benefitted from crime or a criminal lifestyle.

The court will determine how much an offender has benefitted from criminal conduct. The offender must repay this amount within a specific time frame or risk enforcement proceedings. The money is returned to the public, and victims of the crime receive compensation.

Find out more in our blog: What is a Confiscation Order?

Why are reforms needed?

The Law Commission has proposed overhauling the entire system to recover the proceeds of crime. The current regime has been described as inefficient, complex and ineffective. In particular, there are said to be weak enforcement mechanisms, meaning authorities struggle to recover criminal funds consistently.

The Law Commission says that by adopting the proposed reforms, courts would have more power to enforce confiscation orders and seize assets. This would also speed up confiscation proceedings and limit the number of orders that cannot be paid back. The Commission estimates this could lead to an extra £8 million in retrieved funds annually.

What is being proposed?

Various reforms have been proposed, including:

  • Speed up confiscation proceedings with strict timetables for hearings. These hearings would take place immediately after the defendant’s sentencing.
  • Give the courts power to impose ‘contingent enforcement orders’, meaning an offender’s assets are seized if the confiscation order is not paid in time.
  • Strengthen restraint orders to ensure a defendant cannot dispose of assets before a conviction/confiscation proceedings.
  • Improve police training and create a national asset management strategy.
  • Update what it means to have a ‘criminal lifestyle’ so that a defendant would have to commit fewer offences to be deemed to have a criminal lifestyle.
  • Focus on a defendant’s ability to pay, thereby limiting unrealistic confiscation orders. This requires a defendant to give more detailed information on their financial position.
  • Allow judges to amend funds that must be paid back where there is no realistic prospect of recovering the total amount.
  • Provide clarity on the purpose of confiscation orders – namely, to deprive defendants of their benefit from criminal conduct – and put this into statute.

What next?

The Law Commission is working on a draft bill to publish in 2023. The government must then decide what steps to take to bring that bill into law.

Are you facing a confiscation order?

Are you facing a confiscation order? Contact us now at Ashmans Solicitors.

We have experienced fraud and financial crime solicitors and are well-versed in dealing with confiscation orders, restraint orders, and proceedings under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

We can take your call 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We also offer free police station representation.

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