Olliers regularly represent individuals whose assets have been restrained under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.
The purpose behind restraint orders is to prevent a defendant dissipating assets before a confiscation order can be made.
A restraint order may be sought by the Crown at any stage of a criminal investigation. Unlike under previous statutory regimes the Crown do not have to wait for a defendant to be charged with an offence before applying for a restraint order; usually the only requirement is that a criminal investigation must have commenced.
Given that complex investigations particularly in respect of fraud and money laundering can result in defendants spending months or even years on bail, this raises the very real prospect of defendants or third parties being subject to a draconian restraint order for significant periods of time without even being charged.
The effect of a restraint order will vary; some orders are sought for specified assets only, however many are “all assets” orders. These “all assets” orders prohibit defendants from dealing with their assets entirely and can have a paralysing effect upon an individual, their business or their family.
Defendants subject to restraint are also prohibited from funding legal representation from restrained funds.
At Olliers we act expeditiously on behalf of our clients facing restraint orders, seeking to discharge orders or where that is not possible engaging at an early stage to achieve variation of the orders to allow for living expenses to be paid and businesses to be run by defendants.
Olliers act for third parties who may find their assets caught by a restraint order against a defendant. Legal aid funding is rarely available for third parties seeking to extricate their assets from a defendant’s restraint order; expert advice and expeditious action is essential to ensure success in this area.
For more information on restraint orders see the following article:
Restraint Orders – Imposition, Variation and Removal