Civil Forfeiture of Criminal Property

Civil Forfeiture of Criminal Property

Legal Measures for Targeting the Proceeds of Crime

Edited by Simon N.M. Young

In this book, which is the first of its kind, leading experts examine the civil and criminal forfeiture systems in Australia, Canada, China, Ireland, South Africa, the United Kingdom and the United States. In the fight against organized crime and international money laundering, there is a global trend for countries to enact forfeiture and confiscation laws that are applied through the civil process rather than the traditional criminal justice system. The authors gathered here analyze the appeal these civil forfeiture laws have for governments for their potential to disrupt criminal organizations and for their quantifiable benefits to the state. But without the usual safeguards of the criminal process, civil forfeiture laws are controversial, attracting constitutional challenges, particularly on human rights grounds.

Chapter 8: Is the Patient Expected to Live? UK Civil Forfeiture in Operation

Sara Dayman

Subjects: economics and finance, economic crime and corruption, law - academic, corruption and economic crime, criminal law and justice, finance and banking law, human rights, politics and public policy, human rights


Sara Dayman* INTRODUCTION The commencement in 2003 of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (hereinafter POCA 2002) introduced to the United Kingdom (UK) the concept of civil recovery proceedings against assets derived from the profits of crime. Home Office estimates, based on data supplied by law enforcement bodies, suggested in 1999–2000, that there were ‘some £440 million of criminal assets that could be targeted by civil forfeiture across 400 individual cases’.1 In order to target the aforesaid £440 million of criminal assets a budget of some £15 million was granted in March 2003 to the newly formed Assets Recovery Agency (hereinafter ARA), the government department established to carry out such civil recovery proceedings. By September 2004 the ARA Resource Accounts 2003–042 made it clear that the cost and impact of pioneering the new legislation had been underestimated. The ARA’s opening operational and financial plans had been based on the operational experience of HM Customs and Excise (now HM Revenue and Customs) in criminal asset forfeiture work. Those assumptions failed to reflect the mix, complexity (both in terms of case weight and the level of legal challenge) or length of civil recovery cases being handled by the ARA. Nor did they reflect the costs actually * The views expressed herein are the author’s personally and do not represent the views of BDO Stoy Hayward LLP. 1 See Cabinet Office (June 2000), Recovering the Proceeds of Crime, London, UK: Cabinet Office (Performance and Innovation Unit) (hereinafter PIU Report), at para. 3.5;...

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