Sunday, April 03, 2011

A Bit of Law

Those of us who are used to dealing with cases arising from cash seizures under the Proceeds of Crime Act will be hearing a lot about Angus v UKBA in future.
Hitherto, we have only been required to find on the Balance of Probabilities that the cash was the proceeds of unlawful conduct or to be used in such. Just what the unlawful conduct consisted of did not have to be proved, but as I understand it it does now: the Court of Appeal said:-

Applying the provisions of section 242(2)(b) of the Act, our answer to the question is as follows: in a case of cash forfeiture, a customs officer does have to show that the property seized was obtained through conduct of one of a number of kinds each of which would have been unlawful conduct.
(I am of course not a lawyer, If any of our leqally qualified readers want to set me right on my interpretation, please do.)

Cash seizures are close to the heart of those directing the justice system. Most of those seizures are dealt with before magistrates, and many of us still have a feeling of unease about the basic fairness of the proceedings. As the proceedings are civil, no legal aid is available, and those trying to resist the loss of their cash even have to fund their own interpreter. I have seen experienced counsel make mincemeat of confused respondents whose first language is not English, still less legal English. It isn't a fair fight, and perhaps it ought to be.

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