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Proceeds of Crime Act 2002

Confiscation orders

Section 92: Making of order

157.Section 92 provides that a confiscation order under the Act is an order requiring an accused person convicted of a criminal offence or offences to pay a sum of money representing the accused person’s benefit from crime. The approach of the Act therefore reflects that adopted by the existing legislation. However, under the existing legislation, confiscation orders can only be imposed following conviction on indictment or for offences on summary complaint if the offence is punishable by a fine of an amount greater than level 5 on the standard scale or by imprisonment for more than 3 months or both. Section 92 extends this to cover all summary offences. Confiscation orders will be made by the High Court or the sheriff court. The confiscation procedures are mandatory. The court must go through them when asked to do so by the prosecutor.

158.Section 92 also makes it clear that the Act contains two different confiscation regimes, only one of which may be applied in any particular case. One enables the confiscation of an accused’s benefit from “general criminal conduct”, the other the confiscation of an accused’s benefit from “particular criminal conduct”. General criminal conduct means any criminal conduct of the accused whenever the criminal conduct occurred (see section 143) and whether or not it has ever formed the subject of any criminal prosecution. Particular criminal conduct means the offences of which the accused has been convicted in the current proceedings to which the confiscation proceedings relate (again, see section 143). General criminal conduct includes particular criminal conduct.

159.The general criminal conduct regime is to be applied where the accused is identified by the court after conviction as having a criminal lifestyle. This is determined by reference to the nature of the offence or offences of which the accused has been convicted in the current proceedings, or certain previous proceedings. The offences in question are specified later in section 142, read in conjunction with Schedule 2. If the court decides that the accused does not have a criminal lifestyle, confiscation is by reference to his benefit from his particular criminal conduct.

Section 93: Recoverable amount

160.Section 93 specifies how the amount recoverable under a confiscation order is to be calculated. The method of calculation is much the same as in the existing confiscation statutes. The amount is the amount of the accused’s benefit from either his general criminal conduct or his particular criminal conduct (as the case may be), unless the amount available for confiscation is considered by the court and found to be less than the benefit in question, in which case the order must be made in that lesser amount. The amount available for confiscation is described as the available amount (equivalent to the term “the amount that might be realised” in the earlier confiscation legislation) and the amount which may be ordered to be confiscated as the recoverable amount (equivalent to “the amount to be recovered” in the earlier confiscation legislation). Subsection (2) is to the effect that the burden is on the accused to show that the available amount is less than the benefit and to show the extent of the available amount. Where the court considers the available amount (and it will only do so at the accused’s request), subsection (5) requires it to include a statement of its calculations in the confiscation order. This is intended to assist enforcement by alerting the enforcement authorities to the property available for confiscation.

Section 94: Accused’s benefit

161.This section describes how the court must work out whether the accused has benefited from criminal conduct and what the value of that benefit is. Subsection 2 explains that the court must regard the accused as having benefited by the value of any property obtained by him from criminal conduct up to the time the court makes its decision. Subsections (3) to (8) deal with the situation where the court is holding a confiscation proceeding in respect of the accused’s general criminal conduct, and a previous confiscation order or orders has been made against the accused in respect of such conduct. General criminal conduct means all the accused’s criminal conduct at any time, so a court making a general criminal conduct confiscation order could confiscate the same benefit twice, unless the legislation prevented it. Section 94 prevents double counting of the same benefit by providing (broadly) that, once the court has calculated the accused’s benefit from his or her general criminal conduct, it must deduct the amount ordered to be paid under the last general criminal conduct confiscation order previously made against the accused. Sub-section (4) ensures that the calculation of benefit for the two orders will be the same. The provision is not required for particular criminal conduct because the same offences cannot be subject to a second conviction twice, and therefore there is no risk of confiscating the same benefit from particular criminal conduct twice.

Section 95: Available amount

162.Section 95 explains how the available amount is to be calculated. It is calculated in the same way as “the amount that might be realised” in the earlier confiscation legislation. The available amount is the value of all the accused’s property, minus certain prior obligations of the accused such as earlier fines, plus the value of all tainted gifts made by him. “Tainted gifts” are defined at section 14.

Section 96: Assumptions as to benefit from general criminal conduct

163.Section 96 applies where the court has decided that the accused has a criminal lifestyle and it is, accordingly, considering the accused’s benefit from general criminal conduct. The section requires the court to make certain specified assumptions to establish whether the accused has benefited from general criminal conduct, and, if so, by how much. The court is not, however, permitted to make an assumption in relation to particular property or expenditure if it is shown to be incorrect. The current legislation provides for similar assumptions to be made. Where for any reason the court does not make any of the assumptions specified in the legislation, it must nevertheless continue to decide whether the accused has benefited from general criminal conduct and decide the recoverable amount, albeit without the assistance of the assumptions.

164.The earlier confiscation legislation provides for similar assumptions to be made. They are mandatory in confiscation proceedings following a conviction for a drug trafficking offence, but discretionary in all other confiscation cases (and, in the latter case, other criteria must be satisfied before they can be made). Section 97 creates a single scheme under which the assumptions are mandatory in all cases where a person has a criminal lifestyle (defined in section 142).

Section 97: Effect of order on court’s other powers

165.Section 97 requires the court to have regard to the confiscation order before imposing a fine or other order for payment or forfeiture on the accused, except for a compensation order but otherwise to leave the confiscation order out of account in sentencing the accused.

Section 98: Disposal of family home

166.Section 98 provides some protection in relation to the accused’s interest in his family home. The section applies where a confiscation order has been made and the prosecution has not satisfied the court that the person’s interest in his family home has been acquired as a benefit of his criminal conduct. It replicates existing provisions in the Proceeds of Crime (Scotland Act 1995. An administrator who has been appointed to ingather the estate of the accused in terms of the confiscation order cannot dispose of the family home, as defined in subsection (5), without the relevant consent, again as defined in subsection (5). Where no consent is forthcoming, he must apply to the court for authority to do so. Once the court has taken into consideration all the circumstances of the case, it may refuse to agree to the disposal of the family home or postpone the application to dispose of the family home for up to 12 months.

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