Confiscation regime review to ensure crime doesn’t pay

Confiscation laws will be reviewed to ensure they’re effectively depriving convicted offenders of their ill-gotten gains, the Law Commission has announced today.

No one doubts that crime should not pay. The confiscation regime is one means by which offenders can be deprived of any benefits they have gained through criminal conduct. However, the law on confiscation is unduly complex and can hamper the effective recovery of the proceeds of crime.

The Law Commission has been asked to consider ways in which to improve the law on confiscation.

In particular it will examine:

  • the challenges in effectively preventing the dissipation of criminal assets;
  • the irregular compensation of victims in confiscation proceedings;
  • the frequent imposition of unrealistic confiscation orders; and
  • the ineffective incentives and sanctions of the confiscation regime.

Law Commissioner Professor David Ormerod QC said:

“Currently, the confiscation regime is failing both victims and the general public. Proceedings are too complex and lengthy and are being slowed down by technical appeals.

“The result is a system that is not doing its job of recovering criminal property and disrupting crime. Our aim is for confiscation system that is efficient, optimised and fair to all.”

“The Law Commission welcomes the opportunity to review this area of the law and we are asking all those with expertise and experience of the confiscation regime to provide us with evidence, examples and ideas to inform the project. What we hear will inform our options for law reform, to be published in a consultation paper next year.”

Minister for Security and Economic Crime Ben Wallace, said:

“I welcome the Law Commission’s important work and look forward to seeing their final recommendations.

“This Government is committed to denying the most dangerous and determined criminals access to their money and assets.

“Our newly updated Serious and Organised Crime strategy sets out how we will draw on all the powers, tools and expertise the UK has to offer to track down perpetrators, bring them to justice and strip them of their assets.”

Kennedy Talbot QC, the chair of the Proceeds of Crime Lawyers Association said:

“Confiscation cases are the nemesis of the criminal practitioner. Directed towards an admirable target, but effected (or not in practice) through largely unintelligible, unworkable statutory provisions, this area desperately needs an independent overhaul. That’s why the Proceeds of Crime Lawyers Association warmly welcomes the Law Commission’s brief to see what can be done.”

The review will focus on the conviction-based confiscation regime

The Home Office, on behalf of the government, asked the Law Commission to review Part 2 of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.

The review will consider improvements to the existing law and what an optimal confiscation regime would look like. It will ask to what extent does the law achieve its objectives and provide the most effective way of confiscating criminal assets?

Further information

For any press enquiries, contact Head of Communications Dan Popescu at: daniel.popescu@lawcommission.gov.uk.

The Law Commission is a non-political independent body, set up by Parliament in 1965 to keep all the law of England and Wales under review, and to recommend reform where it is needed. If you would like more information about this project or to share your ideas, you can contact the Law Commission at: confiscation1@lawcommission.gov.uk.