The Impact on the Innocent: Cash Forfeiture

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Andrew Mitchell QC and Penny Small deliver a paper on the impact of civil proceedings on innocent parties, despite their success at trial. Essential reading for advisors and affected parties.

‘THE INNOCENT SHALL SUFFER BECAUSE IT IS IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST’

On the 4th of February 2010 the Master of The Rolls sitting together with Lord Justice Kay and Lord Justice Stanley Burton in the Court of Appeal Civil Division delivered what for many will prove to be an explosive judgement in relation to all proceedings involving the detention and or forfeiture of cash in Magistrates Court proceedings under the Proceeds of Crime Acr 2002  (R.  v .City of Westminster Magistrates Court [ex parte Perinpanathan] [2010] EWCA Civ. 40).

Why explosive? I hear you ask.

The case involved an appeal from the Divisional Court, which in turn had endorsed a Magistrates’ Court decision not to award any costs to P despite the fact that she had successfully defended an application made for the forfeiture of £150,000 by the Metropolitan Police. The case had cost the appellant £9,000 defending the forfeiture hearing.  The case has far reaching consequences for all who find themselves involved in such work because this judgement says that; not only is there to be no presumption or principle that costs follow the event in such cases; but over and above that ordinarily no order shall be made against any prosecutor in cash detention/ forfeiture cases.

We cannot comfort ourselves with any thought that there had been a failure to appreciate the significance of the case. This case was given the gravitas it deserved.

[Download the full paper here]