Benjamin Waidhofer, instructed by Daniel Cundy (Partner) and Naureen Shariff (Senior Associate) of Blackfords LLP successfully resisted an application for an Account Freezing Order at Westminster Magistrates’ Court.
The target of the application had been informed by cover of email timed at 3.30pm that an ‘on notice’ application was being made and would be heard the following day at Westminster Magistrates’ Court.
During the course of the hearing, the Court was provided with a detailed bundle to resist the application and, following detailed submissions, the application for an account freezing order was refused on the basis that the District Judge could not be satisfied on balance of probabilities that there were reasonable grounds for suspecting that funds held in various accounts represented recoverable property or were intended by any person for use in unlawful conduct.
The Criminal Finances Act 2017 inserted sections 303Z1 – 303Z19 into the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002. Those provisions came into force in 2018 and are increasingly used by enforcement officers to obtain an account freezing order (303Z1 – 303Z8 POCA 2002) and subsequently Forfeiture Orders (section 303Z9 – 303Z19 POCA 2002).
It is understood that only a very small number of applications for Account Freezing Orders have been successfully resisted and the work done on a very tight timescale in this case demonstrates the need to urgently obtain legal advice and assistance upon receipt of an application for an Account Freezing Order.