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Restraint Orders - when your assets have been frozen

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I have been made the subject of a restraint order what does this mean?

This means that a Court has been asked to freeze all or some of your assets including bank accounts, property and vehicles. You will not be able to transfer or sell any assets listed in the order whilst you are subject to this and you will only be able to access a limited amount of funds in your bank account to ensure that you can meet living expenses.

I have some property abroad is this included in the order?

It depends on the wording of the order itself however the usual type of order will include property in the UK and abroad.

I have some bank accounts that have not been named in the restraint order will these accounts be subject to the order?

Again this will depend on the wording of the order itself but usually this will include all bank accounts whether they are known to the investigation authorities or not. There is often a requirement within the order to disclose the existence of all accounts within a certain time limit. Failure to provide that information could result in you being in breach of the order.

I have some assets that have not been referred to in the order are these subject to the order?

The order is often drafted in such a way that all assets worldwide will be covered by the order whether listed or not. There is often a requirement to provide a full statement of all of your assets within a certain time limit and if you don’t do this then you could be in breach of the order. In some cases however the restraint order can be limited to certain assets and this depends on the wording of the order. It is important that you seek expert advice from an experienced fraud Solicitor to ensure that you do not inadvertently breach the order.

Can I get legal aid for restraint order proceedings?

Legal aid or ‘representation’ is very difficult to obtain. If the restraint order is imposed before you are charged with any criminal offence then you cannot apply for a representation order under the criminal legal aid system. Even if you have a criminal representation order then this legal aid will not cover the restraint proceedings. Civil legal aid is an option but it is a very difficult process and applications are often unsuccessful. At Stephensons we will look at each case on its merits and we often take the decision that we will be able to assist you in any event. It is always worth asking us for help if you need it. This is a very specialised area of law and it is important you seek advice from an expert in dealing with restraint orders.

How can I pay my legal fees if my funds are frozen?

This is a big difficulty for many people. Access to funds to pay legal bills is rarely considered to be a day to day living expense. It is hoped that this will be changed in the near future to ensure that all have access to the legal representation of their choice and will be able to access their own funds in order to pay for it. In the meantime this is an issue we would be happy to look at and to discuss whether there are any other methods of funding your legal costs.

By Rachel Adamson, Partner, serious fraud and business crime 

If you have had your assets frozen by a restraint order contact our expert serious fraud lawyers on 01616 966 229.