The Proceeds of Crime Act has made it more and more common in the UK for asset recovery orders to be made. Perhaps the most dramatic examples of this type of order are cash seizures or cash forfeitures.
The aim of seizing cash or demanding that it be forfeited is to stop a person from benefitting from their crimes, or to stop money being used illegally. But if you are faced with cash seizure or forfeiture, it can be very distressing and upsetting for you and your family or business colleagues and it is vital that you have proper legal advice and representation.
Reasons For Cash Seizure & Forfeiture
Since late 2002, a customs officer or a police officer is allowed to seize cash of more than £1,000 from someone entering the country, or who is already in the country if it seems that:
- The cash has come from a criminal act
- The cash is going to be used illegally
That cash can normally only be held for up to 48 hours unless a court order says that it can be kept for longer. The cash will normally be held in an account that carries interest until the court proceedings have finished.
Cash seizure involves criminal law and so the prosecution has to prove that the cash was illegal or going to be used illegally ‘beyond reasonable doubt’.
An alternative to cash seizure is cash forfeiture. Forfeiture is a civil matter, which means that the court can only order the cash to be forfeited (handed over to the court) if it is proved that it was ‘more likely than not’ that the cash was illegal or going to be used illegally.
If you are investigated and a decision is made to seize your cash, the first you might know about it is when you enter the UK at an airport or port and you will probably be unsure of what you should do or what the prosecutors have the power to do.
That is where good-quality legal advice becomes important, because you will need to know very quickly whether the seizure or forfeiture was legal and whether it can be challenged. You will also need to know what your chances are of successfully getting your property returned.
How Irwin Mitchell Can Help You
When you contact us, we will take immediate action to find out why your assets have been seized and will do everything possible to persuade the investigators to return your cash or other property. If necessary we will apply to court for an order to have your funds returned to you.
Since investigations and court proceedings can start without warning, at any time, our solicitors are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to deal with urgent requests for advice and representation.
It is important that you choose a firm of solicitors with plenty of experience and knowledge of this complex area of law to defend you. We have a team of dedicated, experienced solicitors who are renowned for their work in this complex area of law.
Funding Your Case
We act on a privately paying basis, often through insurance policies and sometimes through legal aid (we can advise you about whether this would be available for you).
We will always discuss with you the likely costs of your case and will tell you if the cost is likely to be more or less than expected. We always aim to keep your costs as low as possible and will always give you value for money.
Call Irwin Mitchell Solicitors Today For A No-Obligation Discussion
If you have had cash seized or have been subject to forfeiture action, contact us as soon as possible for expert advice and assistance. For an initial discussion, with no obligation, call Sarah Wallace on 020 7421 3876 or Paul Haycock on 0114 274 4275. Alternatively you can contact us online and we will get back to you.