Asset forfeiture is an area of law which has increased in importance in both the criminal and civil contexts. In the criminal context, asset forfeiture involves the restraint and confiscation of assets in the course of criminal proceedings. In the civil context, asset forfeiture involves the removal of assets derived from crime.All members of Chambers have a thorough understanding of the law of asset forfeiture. We are therefore exceptionally well placed to provide practical advice and advocacy in all cases, from the straightforward to the complex.
We have unparalleled expertise in the field of criminal confiscation. Tenants at all levels of seniority are regularly instructed in confiscation proceedings. We have a particular reputation for dealing with those cases involving technical points of law. For example, members of chambers have recently appeared in the following significant cases in the appeal courts:
• R v Green  1 AC 1053 (the leading case on confiscation);
• King v Serious Fraud Office  1 WLR 718 (territorial limits of restraint orders);
• R v Rose  1 WLR 2113 (meaning of benefit under s 76 POCA 2002);
• M, Re  1 WLR 3420 (certificates of inadequacy), and
• R v Magro  EWCA Crim 1575 (compatibility of confiscation orders and conditional discharges).
We understand that for those accused of criminal conduct the threat of a confiscation order causes understandable anxiety: bank accounts may be frozen, businesses may come under state control, the family home may be lost. We therefore ensure that the advice we give is practical, to ensure that we answer the kind of questions which clients often have, such as:
• What are my rights while my property is restrained?
• How can I minimise any future confiscation order?
• How much am I likely to have to pay?
• What if I can't pay?
The power to confiscate assets extends beyond criminal cases. The courts now have power to make 'civil recovery orders' so that assets which are proved to have a criminal origin come are taken by the state. Assets can be taken from an individual even where that individual has committed no crime. That this power exists sometimes comes as something of a shock to members of the public, but it is a power which is likely to be used increasingly by the state.
As a Chambers we have built up a solid expertise in the growth area of civil recovery. We are instructed regularly by SOCA and junior members have completed secondments there. As civil recovery gains momentum, we are singularly well placed to cater for the corresponding need for advice and advocacy services.