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Confiscation Orders and Default Terms

The question of the jurisdiction of the Court of Appeal over the length of default terms attached to confiscation orders was the subject in issue in Graham Alan Mills [2018] EWCA 944. Maximum default terms are fixed by a table (relatively recently amended in the Serious Crime Act 2015) based on the value of the Order as follows:

£10,000 or less - 6 months max

£10,000 to £500,000 - 5 years max.

£500,000 to £1m - 7 years max.

Over £1m - 14 years max.

Mr Mills pleaded guilty to his involvement in a boiler room fraud and was sentenced to 7 years imprisonment. He was later made the subject of a confiscation order in the sum of £657,197.33 but the Judge fixed a default term of only 18 months. The prosecution appealed against the default term. The question of whether the Court of Appeal had jurisdiction to interfere with the discretion to impose length of a default term turned on the question of whether the default term was part of the Order thereby engaging the prosecution gateway to appeal under section 31 Proceeds of Crime Act 2002. On the basis of previous authority, it reluctantly concluded that it was not part of the Order and it therefore had no jurisdiction to interfere. However, it expressed disquiet about this situation (and the Judge’s Order) and one may expect statutory amendment to section 31 in the short term.

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