Freezing Injunction Defence Lawyers

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Freezing Injunctions & Orders Solicitors

The advent of Account Freezing Orders and Account Forfeiture Orders under the Criminal Finances Act 2017 has empowered law enforcement agencies with enhanced capabilities to swiftly disrupt and seize funds suspected of being linked to criminal activities without the necessity of securing a prosecution or criminal conviction.

These legal instruments continue to be extensively utilised as part of the ongoing efforts to combat illicit financial activities and the potential proceeds of crime.

Here at Clifford Johnston, we regularly represent clients targeted by such orders, including commercial enterprises (such as money service businesses), high-net-worth individuals, politically exposed persons, and their family members or close business associates. The sums involved can be substantial, and prompt action is often advisable to ensure that the order is appropriately challenged and the funds in question are not ultimately forfeited as part of a broader investigation.

Our dedicated team of criminal defence lawyers handles every case with expertise, diligence, and tenacity to reduce the impact these orders may have on your business operations and daily life.

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What is an Asset Freezing Order?

An asset freezing order, granted by a court, is a preliminary measure designed to prevent the dispersion or disposal of assets before a judgement is enforced. Such orders are extensive, empowering authorities to restrain all types of assets, including bank accounts, shares, land, homes and vehicles. Moreover, asset freezing orders impact third parties who manage the respondent’s assets. These third parties are compelled to comply with the order’s terms and must neither assist the respondent in breaching it nor allow the respondent to do so themselves.

If your assets have been placed under a freezing order or forfeiture, you must act urgently and seek legal counsel immediately. Our professional and knowledgeable team will provide clear and practical advice to resolve the matter quickly and smoothly.

What Is An Account Freezing Order?

An account freezing order (formerly known as a Mareva injunction) is a court order which enables law enforcement agencies, for example, HMRC, to freeze a bank account for up to two years. A freezing order is issued to prevent a defendant from disposing of or dealing with their assets during an investigation or to allow creditors to protect the assets owed to them.

Many different types of assets can be subject to a freezing order, including bank and building society accounts, investments, shares, property, and land. Under a standard freezing order, a cap is placed on the value of the assets that may be frozen. The court will usually allow the respondent to access reasonable living expenses, and a freezing order may not be used to force the respondent to cease trading.

What Is An Account Forfeiture Order?

An account forfeiture order may be made in cases where the court is satisfied that the monies in the defendant’s account are the proceeds of crime or that the funds are intended to be used unlawfully.

Once an account forfeiture order has been served, the respondent has 30 days to object. If an objection is made, the matter will be sent to a hearing, whereby the court must decide whether the money amounts to recoverable property or is intended to be used for unlawful conduct.

If an account forfeiture order is granted, the following may occur:

  • The funds may be transferred to an alternative nominated account.
  • The account freezing order ceases to be of effect, except when there is an application for it to persist pending an appeal.
  • The Crown Court may receive an appeal within 30 days.

If an account forfeiture is not granted or an account freezing order is discharged for any reason, the account owner may apply for financial compensation. If you have any questions about the account forfeiture process and what might happen to your assets, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

When Will The Court Grant A Freezing Order?

An application for an account freezing order can be made to the County Court or High Court, and under section 37 of the Senior Courts Act 1981, the court has full discretion to grant an account freezing order when they consider it to be just and convenient. Once an application has been made, the respondent will typically have 48 hours to respond to the order and provide a full disclosure of all their assets, including their value and location.

For an injunction to be granted, the following criteria must be met:

  • The applicant provides sufficient cause for action
  • The applicant presents a good and arguable case
  • There exist sufficient assets to meet the need for a claim
  • A full and frank disclosure has been made by the applicant to the court
  • There exists a real risk of the dissipation/disposal of assets before judgement in court

When the court is deliberating over the decision, they will apply the ‘balance of convenience’ test, meaning all relevant factors will be taken into account to evaluate the disadvantage which may be caused to the respondent, weighed up against the benefit to the applicant of the injunction being granted.

Can I Challenge An Account Freezing Order?

Yes, it is possible to challenge an account freezing order. When the respondent considers the order unjust, they are entitled to apply to the court to have the order discharged or varied. The account holder may also go to court if they wish to oppose any subsequent application for forfeiture of their assets.

Some of the most common reasons for challenging an injunction include:

  • The injunction is too oppressive
  • The injunction terms are unreasonably strict
  • The cap on the living expenses of the respondent is too low
  • The respondent requires more time to gather evidence of assets
  • There exist no arguable cases against the respondent
  • The courts in England have no jurisdiction to make the order
  • The applicant has caused an unreasonable delay in their application
  • The applicant failed to give notice of the application to the respondent
  • The duties of full and frank disclosure have not been met by the applicant

Challenging an account freezing order is a complex procedure and there are strict deadlines to meet.

To have the best chance of success, it is recommended to seek legal advice from an experienced solicitor. Our team has the knowledge and understanding required to ensure your appeal is successful; we have handled many cases like yours with a proven track record.

Contact our Freezing Orders Solicitors today

If you’re facing an account freezing order or forfeiture, you should act quickly. The effects of these orders can be significant, affecting your finances, reputation, and daily activities. At Clifford Johnston & Co, our Freezing Orders Solicitors provide expert advice and strong representation to challenge these orders. Our team is well-versed in the intricacies of criminal finance law and is dedicated to achieving the best result for you or your business.

Do not let asset freezing and forfeiture actions disrupt your life or business operations. Contact our experienced Proceeds of Crime Act solicitors today to discuss your situation and explore your options. Our approach is always client-focused, providing clear, practical advice and a strategy tailored to your unique circumstances. Let us help you safeguard your assets and protect your rights.

Need some professional advice?

Do you have any issues that you are worried about? Contact our professional team for a free, no-obligation informal discussion, where we can discuss your particular requirements in greater detail.

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