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Proceeds of Crime Act 2002

Section 24: Inadequacy of available amount: discharge of order

56.Under earlier confiscation legislation, there is no provision for writing off a confiscation order. In principle it should not be necessary, as an order cannot be made in a sum greater than the value of the property available to satisfy it and the certificate of inadequacy procedure, as now implemented by section 23, is available to defendants. The absence of any provision for write-offs has, however, led on occasion to unnecessary practical difficulties, for example, where a court makes a confiscation order based on an assessment of realisable property in the form of foreign currency seized at an airport, and a shortfall in payment of the order arises later due entirely to a change in the value of the currency concerned in the period between the order being made and payment.

57.Section 24 therefore provides that, where a justices’ chief executive in the magistrates’ court is enforcing a confiscation order, the justices’ chief executive may apply to the Crown Court and the Crown Court may write the order off if the outstanding sum is under £1,000 and the reason for the shortfall is a fluctuation in exchange rates or some other factor specified in secondary legislation, or some combination of the two. The sum of £1,000 is variable by order. No similar provision is either available or necessary where the Director is enforcing a confiscation order because enforcement by the Director will always involve the appointment of a receiver, who will be able to apply to the Crown Court under section 23.

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