Ben Douglas-Jones QC and William Douglas-Jones appear in the Supreme Court

Ben Douglas-Jones QC, Nathaniel Rudolf QC (25 Bedford Row) and William Douglas-Jones, instructed by Ben Henry of Jonas Roy Bloom Solicitors, appeared in the Supreme Court on 7th June 2022 on behalf of the Respondent in R v Luckhurst, on appeal from the Court of Appeal decision of R v Luckhurst [2020] EWCA Crim 1579.

The appeal relates to the scope of permitted legal expenditure as an exception to a restraint order granted pursuant to section 41 of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (“POCA”).  The Supreme Court was asked to decide whether section 41(4) prohibits an exception for reasonable legal expenses in respect of civil proceedings relating to the same or similar facts as those of the offence(s) giving rise to the restraint order.

Section 41(3) allows a person whose assets are restrained to be provided with reasonable living expenses and reasonable legal expenses from those restrained funds (“the Exception”).  Section 41(4) excludes from the Exception “…any legal expenses which…relate to an offence”.  The focus of the appeal was, therefore, the extent of the words “relate to an offence”.

The Respondent faces criminal proceedings in the Crown Court. The indictment alleges fraud and theft arising out of the Respondent’s conduct practising as an independent financial advisory through a limited company. The CPS’ case is that the Respondent ran a fraudulent Ponzi scheme and stole money from clients. In 2016, a number of the company’s investors brought civil proceedings in the High Court against the Respondent and others.  Those civil proceedings are ongoing. In December 2017, on the application of the CPS, the Crown Court made a restraint order against the Respondent under POCA. This was to preserve the Respondent’s assets to meet any confiscation order which may be made by the Crown Court in the event of the Respondent’s conviction. The Respondent instructed solicitors to defend the civil claim against him and sought a variation to the restraint order to pay those solicitors £3,000 for advice on a settlement. The Respondent’s variation application was refused by the judge at first instance but allowed on appeal. The CPS appealed that decision to the Crown Court.  The Supreme Court has reserved judgment.

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