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Restraint Proceedings

A Restraint Order under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 may be your first indication that you are the subject of a criminal investigation. In any circumstances it is a serious development and requires you to take urgent advice from a solicitor.

The Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 has since 2003 enabled an investigative authority to obtain a Restraint Order against a suspect at any time. It is nowadays not unusual for  a person to be served with a Restraint Order before they have been charged with any criminal offence, and indeed many Orders are obtained before a person has even been arrested. Most such Orders are obtained ex parte, meaning that the Order is granted by a Judge at a secret hearing where you have no right to be heard.

If you are served with an Order, it will almost certainly “freeze” all of your assets, which may make it impossible for you to operate a business, or even to deal with everyday tasks such as paying your mortgage. In many cases, the obtaining and serving of an Order on interested parties – such as your bank  – can have a significant impact on your business and reputation. What steps can you take to protect and safeguard your interests?

An Order will also require you (and sometimes others, such as a business partner or spouse) to provide detailed information about your financial affairs; if you fail to comply, prosecutors may seek an Order that you are in contempt of court. The provision of this information may however itself have implications for you in any future criminal proceedings against you. What are your rights in that situation?

Shearman Bowen & Co have many years of experience in dealing with these problems. We can apply to the court or negotiate a variation to the Order; and we can give you clear advice not only on your obligations under the Order itself but also on the wider implications for your situation.