Confiscation case withdrawn against client at Woolwich Crown Court


The firm was privately instructed to act for a company director and restaurateur, who had been convicted of 9 offences of contravening s179 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, following his breach of an enforcement notice which had been issued following a building extension that was carried out to a property restaurant owned by him. The notice required him to return the property to its original state before the extension was carried out as planning permission had not been granted allowing the extension to take place. It is often misunderstood that conduct of this kind gives rise to criminal liability with often devastating financial effect for the individual involved.

We were instructed to act by our client following his guilty pleas in the Magistrates court. The court had committed him to the crown court to face confiscation proceedings under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 and then for him to be sentenced thereafter.

Following service of the prosecutor’s statement requesting that he be ordered to pay a confiscation order of £1.5 million, we prepared and submitted detailed representations upon his behalf urging the prosecution to take the unprecedented step of discontinuing the confiscation proceedings against him. The response prepared on his behalf by senior partner Mark Bowen sought to deal with the prosecutions assertions on our client’s criminal benefit in three ways: by demonstrating that he had not benefitted from the breach of the enforcement notice, that his assets and outgoings had been legitimately obtained and, finally, submitting detailed legal arguments that confiscation would be disproportionate in all the circumstances of the case. If the Local authority was successful in securing the confiscation order sought, our client would stand to lose all of his assets.

Following consideration of our representations, the local authority agreed to discontinue the confiscation proceedings against him. We are very pleased for our client that they agreed to do so – he was a man of good character who had never faced court proceedings before and was facing the prospect of losing everything he had built up through a life of hard work due to one mistake. Following the decision to discontinue the confiscation proceedings our client was sentenced to a fine by the crown Court which is now subject to an appeal by us to the Court of Appeal.

For more information on the work we do in relation to proceeds of crime Act matters please contact Mark Bowen for further information.