Section 22 Applications
By Helen Lynch
Confiscation Orders / POCA Proceedings
For those currently facing Confiscation / POCA (Proceeds of Crime Act) proceedings, remember the case doesn’t end when the confiscation order is made. The prosecution can pursue you for further money well after the original order has been made. This could be years or even decades into the future. It is known as a Section 22 Application.
In simple terms this is when the Crown apply to increase your available amount because you have gained assets since the original confiscation order. One sure fire way of avoiding repeated Section 22 applications is to make sure the job is done correctly in the first place.
Applications under Section 22 of the POCA are undoubtedly the harshest, and they are on the rise. The Crown has a team of dedicated Financial Investigators who monitor people with confiscation orders. They have a whole raft of methods of detection such as monitoring social media accounts, alerts from banks, monitoring land registry and surveillance.
The Value of your Assets
If the value of your house increases, they will apply for a Section 22 to increase the confiscation order to that amount. You may be seen driving a car that is not on finance or lease, the Crown will apply to take it. Do you have a few thousand pounds in the bank? Again, they will apply to take it. They will also restrain the bank account first and ask questions later.
You may have been told casually by your defence team that you are only at risk of the Crown re-visiting your confiscation order if you win the lottery or if you inherit something. This is completely misleading. The Crown are no longer only making these applications for hundreds of thousands of pounds. We see applications where a property increases in value by only £5,000. A car with a value as little as £6,000 is an asset commonly being sought. These applications are favoured by the Crown because they are rarely contested and so the Court costs are minimal. To the Crown its money for old rope and everyone is a target.
Challenging the Crown’s Case
It is important to challenge every aspect of the Crown’s case from the outset, particularly the benefit figure. To most people, this will seem as though it has been plucked from fresh air – which it usually has! The burden of proof reverses to the defence so the Crown can come up with any random figure. You must disprove it.
Many lawyers take for granted the benefit figure but I constantly bang the drum about the importance of the benefit figure. The difference between the benefit amount and the available amount really is a debt for life!
Contact Carter Moore for Help
If you have just been sentenced for an offence where a Confiscation Order applies, a POCA timetable may have been fixed. You may not be familiar with Confiscation Orders / POCA proceedings and you will need expert help to guide you through the swamp. You must act quickly and contact a POCA specialist before any amateur mistakes are made. It is possible to obtain a transfer of legal aid from your trial solicitors, but the sooner the better as the Court are less likely to make a transfer order once the POCA proceedings are underway.
Contact Helen Lynch on 0800 1 444 111 or email HelenLynch@CMSolicitors.co.uk
About Helen Lynch
Helen Lynch heads up the Confiscation/POCA Department at Carter Moore Solicitors. She regularly represents clients in POCA proceedings and ancillary matters, such as realising assets, varying orders and enforcement proceedings.
Helen is praised for “her attention to detail and her first-rate negotiation skills.” She has particular experience in confiscation proceedings. Commentators say: “She is very personable, outgoing and down-to-earth. Clients like her a lot. She is very direct and engaging.” (Chambers & Partners 2018)
She “will go the extra mile for her clients, and has an unmatched determination and drive.” They go on to describe her as “one of the most knowledgeable lawyers on confiscation proceedings in the North of England.” (Chambers & Partners 2017)
The ‘highly diligent’ Helen Lynch […] is ‘tireless in pursuit of her client’s interests’. Lynch is adept at dealing with matters prior to charge restraint orders, through to confiscation orders. (Legal 500, 2018)