Winner of the Legal 500 - 'Criminal, Fraud & Licensing Law Firm of the Year 2019'
"One of, if not the best, criminal specialist firms in the country" (Legal 500 | 2021 Edition)
Civil Recovery & Property Freezing Order Solicitors
Kangs Solicitors has a proven track record of successfully representing clients in relation to all matters brought under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (‘POCA’) including High Court Civil Recovery Proceedings and Property Freezing Orders.
Since 1997 we have been deploying our extensive resources, expertise and skill to advise both corporate and individual clients in relation to both the civil and criminal asset recovery powers available to the UK enforcement agencies.
Our award-winning team of solicitors is nationally recognised for its work in relation to civil POCA proceedings.
‘What the team is known for: Advises on civil cases brought by the NCA under POCA including property freezing and civil recovery orders.
An example to the rest of the profession as to how a firm should be run, how clients should be treated and how a strong and technically gifted team of solicitors can be led to great success by a highly innovative and imaginative leadership’
Both the leading directories, the Legal 500 and Chambers UK have recognised the firm’s excellence in this area of work for many consecutive years.
Call Us For Confidential Advice
We appreciate that an individual or company will not usually be aware of a civil recovery investigation into their affairs until a Property Freezing Order is served on them by a prosecuting authority, usually the National Crime Agency (NCA).
Our team understands that a civil recovery investigation and the service of a Property Freezing Order can have a significant impact on the operation of a business and on the livelihood of an individual. We aim to minimise the risk of reputational damage and provide practical cost-effective solutions for our clients.
If you have been served with a Property Freezing Order by a prosecuting agency such as the NCA, SFO or FCA or you are concerned about a potential civil recovery investigation into your assets, our team of expert civil POCA solicitors can be contacted for confidential and discrete advice as follows:
What Are Civil Recovery Proceedings?
Most civil recovery proceedings are brought by the NCA but other prosecuting agencies also exercise such powers.
The state has the power to bring proceedings in the High Court under Part 5 of POCA for the recovery of property held by an individual or a company on the basis that property is suspected of having derived wholly or in part from the proceeds of criminal activity.
A High Court action can be brought against any individual or company if the evidential basis for such proceedings exists and often it is brought at the end of a criminal trial when a defendant has been acquitted.
The important point is that the prosecuting agency does not need to successfully obtain a criminal conviction in order to pursue the recovery of assets in the civil court.
If the prosecuting agency issues High Court civil recovery proceedings, and it can be shown ‘on a balance of probabilities’ that the assets represent the proceeds of crime, the court will make a Civil Recovery Order forfeiting the assets.
Civil recovery proceedings are focused on the assets and not on the individual. The prosecuting agency is not looking to apportion blame or seek a conviction, it is looking to recover property that has been obtained from the proceeds of crime.
As a result, civil recovery proceedings can be brought against an individual or company having no involvement in the unlawful conduct but appears to have benefitted from it.
What is a Property Freezing Order?
- The first step in civil recovery proceedings involves the prosecuting agency applying to the High Court for a Property Freezing Order.
- The application is made without notice to the individual or company that is the target of the Property Freezing Order. A High Court judge, sitting in private, will decide whether to grant the application for a Property Freezing Order.
- If granted, the effect of the Property Freezing Order is to freeze all property (UK and worldwide) and bank accounts.
- The Property Freezing Order will contain provisions requiring the individual or company to provide detailed financial disclosure.
- The Property Freezing Order allows the prosecuting agency to freeze all assets whilst it conducts an investigation into the financial affairs of the individual or company. On conclusion of the investigation it can decide whether to issue formal civil recovery proceedings in the High Court.
Served With A Property Freezing Order – What Can I Do?
We have significant experience in advising clients served with a Property Freezing Order and the assistance we can provide includes:
- the Property Freezing Order will make provision for the allocation of ‘reasonable living expenses’ to the individual. We will liaise with the prosecuting agency and negotiate the amount of the allowance on your behalf.
- the Property Freezing Order also contains a provision to allow ‘reasonable legal expenses’ to be paid from the frozen assets. Again, we will negotiate with the prosecuting agency for the release of funds to cover legal expenses.
- in both the above circumstances, if the prosecuting agency is unwilling to allow the exclusion of such funds from the frozen assets, we can advise on the merits of making an application to the court to rule on such matters.
- we will review the Property Freezing Order and advise you in relation to its merits. The advice may result in a defence application to the High Court to discharge or vary the Property Freezing Order.
Which Assets Can Be Frozen & Forfeited?
The prosecuting agency will seek to identify all ‘recoverable property’ which includes all property obtained through unlawful conduct and all assets which represent such unlawful conduct.
Recoverable property includes real property such as residential property, land and commercial property as well as money in bank accounts, share portfolios etc.
The Property Freezing Order will extend to all recoverable property whether it is held by the company, individual or by a third party such as family, friends and business associates.
How Will the Civil Recovery Case Progress?
If the Property Freezing Order is not discharged as detailed above, the prosecution agency investigation will continue as will the High Court litigation.
The High Court will set a timetable for the management of the case to include disclosure of evidence, service of witness statements and other related matters.
There are usually opportunities to discuss matters with the prosecuting agency (usually the NCA) with a view to negotiating a settlement. We have significant experience in negotiating settlement discussions and can guide clients through this protracted process.
Alternatively, if a favourable settlement cannot be reached, the matter will proceed to trial before a High Court Judge.
What are the differences between Criminal POCA and Civil POCA?
Civil Recovery Orders and Property Freezing Orders are issued by the High Court and there are significant differences between the rules that apply in the civil court compared to the criminal court.
There appear to be some favourable advantages to the prosecuting agency commencing civil proceedings under Part 5 of POCA compared to the additional burden of commencing uncertain criminal proceedings and a conviction before criminal POCA proceedings can be pursued.
The main differences are as follows:
- to commence proceedings under Part 5 of POCA, no criminal charge or conviction is required.
- in civil recovery proceedings there is no jury. The trial will be heard by a judge in the High Court sitting alone.
- a lower standard of proof is required. In the High Court the prosecuting agency will need to prove its case ‘on the balance of probabilities’ as opposed to ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ in the criminal courts.
- The rules on evidence can be less restrictive in the High Court than in a criminal court
How Can We Help?
Our experienced team takes a proactive approach to Civil Recovery Order and Property Freezing Order cases by actively engaging with the NCA or other prosecuting agency to achieve a positive result, whether that be through successful negotiation of the claim or a contested trial in the High Court.
We are experts in this area and we work in conjunction with the leading barristers and QCs in the country in this specialist area of law.
The areas we can assist you with include:
- immediate advice and assistance after the service of the Property Freezing Order
- guidance on whether the Property Freezing Order should be challenged in which case we will prepare an application for its discharge to the High Court
- advice on varying any aspect of the Property Freezing Order to enable ‘reasonable living expenses’ and ‘reasonable legal expenses’ to be paid
- conduct the High Court litigation with a view to securing the protection of your position and assets
- using our previous experience of civil recovery cases to know when and how to apply appropriate pressure on the prosecuting authority for your benefit
- negotiate with the NCA or other prosecuting agency when appropriate.
- advise on any settlement proposals based on our experience, knowledge and awareness of the NCA’s current policy on settlement
We provide advice and representation in the following related areas:
- Account Freezing Orders and Account Forfeiture Orders
- Unexplained Wealth Orders
- Cash Seizures
- Restraint Orders
- Criminal POCA proceedings
Who Can I Contact For Help?
Hamraj Kang leads an award-winning team of lawyers nationally recognised for its excellence and expertise in Part 5 POCA cases including Civil Recovery Orders and Property Freezing Orders.
We welcome enquiries by telephone or email.
We provide an initial no obligation consultation from our offices in London, Birmingham and Manchester.
Alternatively, we provide initial consultations by telephone or video conferencing.
This is a first-class firm with unrivalled experience, a great track record, an acute attention to detail and a tenacity that clients really rate are features of this firm
Advises on civil cases brought by the NCA under POCA, including property freezing and civil recovery orders
They are excellent in their client care and have a technical knowledge of POCA and asset forfeiture work which is, in my view, far superior to other firms
Frequently represents high-profile individuals in proceeds of crime proceedings following convictions for fraud
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020 7936 6396
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