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Restraint Orders in Criminal Investigations

February 21, 2024

Understanding Restraint Orders

Restraint orders, issued by the Crown Court, are legal measures that prohibit specified individuals from handling their assets during a criminal investigation in England or Wales. These orders do not necessitate a criminal charge or conviction and are typically enacted early in investigations. Their primary goal is to safeguard assets against dissipation or concealment in anticipation of a potential criminal conviction.

The Broad Spectrum of Applicants for Restraint Orders

Applications for restraint orders frequently come from the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC), and the Serious Fraud Office (SFO), among other government agencies. Violating a restraint order constitutes a criminal offence, underscoring the necessity for specialised legal advice to ensure compliance and explore avenues for challenge.

Legal Strategies Against Restraint Orders

Given that restraint orders can be issued without the knowledge of the affected individual, immediate expert legal counsel is vital upon notification of the order. Our legal team specialises in evaluating the possibility of discharging or modifying restraint orders. We possess a wealth of experience in negotiating with government agencies for amendments to these orders, particularly to address overly restrictive conditions.

Criteria and Challenges in the Application of Restraint Orders

For a restraint order to be valid:

  • There must be a credible risk of asset dissipation.
  • Applicants are required to adhere to principles of candour, including the obligation of full and transparent disclosure in without notice applications.
  • While discharging a restraint order may not always be feasible, we have a successful track record of amending orders to allow for necessary living expenses and business operations. This is particularly crucial for businesses impacted by restraint orders, where we can negotiate modifications to facilitate continued operation.

Support for Defendants and Third Parties

In addition to representing defendants, we also advocate for innocent third parties affected by restraint orders in confiscation proceedings. It's important to note that restraint orders cannot be adjusted to cover legal expenses, making external financial support essential for those challenging these orders.

Restraint Order Solicitors

If you're dealing with a restraint order, obtaining expert legal advice is crucial. Our PoCA and Asset Forfeiture team, led by James O’Hara, is skilled in handling both the technical and negotiation aspects of restraint orders. Whether you're seeking to challenge, discharge, or vary a restraint order, we're here to ensure your rights and assets are protected.

James O’Hara:

+44 (0)7523 272 226

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