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Civil asset recovery investigations and proceedings 

Part 5 of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 introduced provisions for the civil recovery of assets said to have been acquired through unlawful conduct. The idea is that the State can lay claim on assets said to have been acquired through criminal activity without the need for criminal convictions. Part 5 provides for the making of civil recovery orders and other provisions to assist the National Crime Agency (NCA) in the administration of such claims. These powers are complemented by additional powers in Part 8 including the ability to seek unexplained wealth orders, production orders and disclosure orders. Under Part 6 of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002, the National Crime Agency can also assume the powers of HMRC tax inspectors and claim unpaid taxation where they suspect income or capital gains are accrued from criminal activity.

What is a Property Freezing Order?

A Property Freezing Order is an Order obtained by the NCA at the outset of a civil recovery investigation. It has the effect of freezing specified assets and often compels the respondent to provide information. A respondent can make an application to set it aside or to vary it. It may allow for living expenses and legal expenses on a limited basis.

What is a civil recovery order?

The NCA is able to make a civil claim in the High Court for recovery of assets belonging to any individual or corporate body on the basis that such property was acquired through unlawful conduct.  The relief sought by the NCA is known as a civil recovery order. Before making a civil recovery order, the Court must be satisfied on a ‘balance of probabilities’ that the subject property is ‘recoverable property’.


What is ‘recoverable property’?

Recoverable property is quite simply property that has been obtained through unlawful conduct.

What is an Unexplained Wealth Order?

An Unexplained Wealth Order is an Order of the High Court requiring the Respondent to make a statement regarding his or her interest in items of property which are specified in the Order. It only applies to property that has a value of at least £50,000 where there are reasonable grounds for suspecting that the respondent’s income is insufficient to acquire the property and that he or she has been involved in serious crime.  An Unexplained Wealth Order may be sought by  If a respondent does not provide an adequate explanation, or unsatisfactory evidence, the asset may be presumed to be ‘recoverable property’ for the purposes of a civil recovery order.


Why instruct Brett Wilson LLP?

Our London based team of solicitors is listed in Chambers and Partners and the Legal 500 as a leading firm in the field of POCA related work. Brett Wilson LLP’s team is headed up by Nick Brett, who is ranked as a leading individual for POCA related work. Our specialist civil recovery solicitors can provide expert legal advice & representation for individuals who are the subject of a civil recovery investigation with a proven track record defending cases.

How do I Instruct Brett Wilson LLP?

You should contact one of our team to discuss your case and arrange a preliminary consultation.  At the consultation we will advise you on the proceedings, talk through the relevant practical and legal issues, and set out your options.  We will review relevant documentation ahead of the consultation.  The consultation will help you understand your position and allow you to make an informed decision about what action to take.  We will provide you with details of our fee structure.

Consultations take place in our London offices or by Teams/Zoom/telephone.  We can also travel to you.

To request a consultation please send us an emailcomplete our online enquiry form or call us on 020 7183 8950.  If emailing or using the online form, please provide a short outline of your situation.

Details of the cost of a consultation will be provided following your enquiry.


Contact us to request a consultation

Call 020 7183 8950
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