The City of London Police have announced a pilot where they will use private law firms to seize and forfeit the assets of those suspected, but not proven, to be involved in cybercrime. It is likely these firms will instigate proceedings under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 and in some
Not only is it quicker but it is much easier. Why? Because not only does it lower the standard of proof required (on a balance of probabilities instead of being sure) but because fewer people access legal advice when facing such civil proceedings when compared to those being prosecuted and there follows a mismatch between the parties at court.
But if this leads to more criminals being targeted and their activities disrupted what is the problem? As ever when designing our criminal justice system we must consider what happens to the innocent person caught up in the system by error or mistake.
One of the reasons so few people instruct a solicitor to protect their rights when their assets are seized is because of the potential liability for costs. Where people use a solicitor and show their assets are not derived from
What does this mean in practice? Well imagine you have had £5,000 seized by the state (be it the
If people do not instruct a solicitor we enter a vicious cycle. To appear unrepresented the person risks failing to meet the case against them, failing to realise what needs to be done in preparation for the final hearing. And in those
Devolving law enforcement to the private sector is questionable. But if it is to happen people need to be able to defend themselves my accessing specialist legal advice. The current costs rules are not fit for purpose. Those who successfully defend asset forfeiture proceedings must be able to recover their costs. Those with a good case will therefore not be dissuaded from instructing a solicitor and presenting it properly.
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