A Restraint Order prohibits an individual from dealing with any realisable asset that they own. The Restraint Order can apply to all property, cash at the bank and other high-value assets owned by the individual who is suspected of a criminal offence, where it is considered that they have made a financial gain from the alleged act.
Restraint Order applications are becoming more common for prosecuting authorities when are dealing with investigations that have a financial element. This draconian tactic is used to restrain all assets which the client owns and, in most circumstances, allows only £250 per week to the client to cover their general living costs.
If you or your family members are the subject of a Restraint Order an application should be made to the prosecuting authority to vary the amount afforded, to allow for bills to be paid i.e. mortgage payments, council tax, and other household bills.
Ben Richardson, Managing Director of Richardson Lissack has recently acted for a client at Blackfriars Crown Court, where an application was made to discharge the Restraint Order, on the grounds that the Crown Prosecution Service had failed in their duty of candour. It was also submitted that the Financial Investigator for the Crown had misled the court at the initial Restraint Order hearing. The application was successful, and our clients bank accounts and assets were unfrozen. A separate application for costs was made, which was successful, and our client was able to recover legal costs in full from the Crown Prosecution Service.
Currently, there is no provision for legal aid funding when making variations or to mount a full challenge against the Restraint Order through the courts. Clients are required to rely on their friends and family to support them financially to cover legal expenses. In some situations, clients may have the benefit of an insurance policy which may cover the legal costs.