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Proceeds of Crime Act 2002


Section 139: Serious default

212.Section 139 provides for compensation to be paid to a person whose property has been affected by the enforcement of the confiscation legislation. Compensation is only payable where a criminal investigation is instituted but proceedings are never brought, or the accused is not convicted of an offence, or the sentence is quashed, or he is pardoned for it. In all cases, there must have been a serious default on the part of one or more of the enforcement authorities specified in subsection (9). The restriction to serious default cases is based on the principle that the restraint and realisation of property is ancillary to a criminal trial in the same way as the detention of a person pending trial. In neither case is compensation paid on acquittal as a matter of course.

213.Section 139 is largely based on earlier legislation, except that the provisions have been extended to cover the situation where an investigation is started but proceedings are never brought. Under the Act, it will be possible for a restraint order to be made as soon as a criminal investigation has been started (at present, this is only possible where proceedings have been instituted or are about to be). Therefore, compensation will in future be payable, subject to the criteria including the serious default test, from the beginning of an investigation, not only where proceedings have been started.

Section 140: Confiscation order varied or discharged

214.Section 140 allows compensation to be payable where a person who absconded before trial and against whom a confiscation order was subsequently made secures a variation or discharge of the order. The provision is not limited to serious default (as in section 139) because it is considered that the court should be able to exercise a more flexible approach in circumstances where a confiscation order has been made without the accused having been tried.

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