Restraint Orders

Our experienced restraint order solicitors have a proven track record, gained from years of experience of advising clients about their restraint orders. Our lawyers can advise on the legality of restraint orders and mount challenges to them where appropriate.


Where an order cannot be discharged, our lawyers can advise as to the implications of the order and will work with you to minimise the impact of the restraint order on your family and business life. Restraint Orders are a tool used by prosecuting bodies to freeze the assets of an individual, for the purpose of protecting them for potential future confiscation hearings, in the event that an individual is convicted or pleads guilty to an offence that has generated a financial gain. Restraint orders can be issued before an arrest is made and, not only does it apply to an individual’s current assets, but also to any asset that is received after the order comes into effect.

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Following procedures set out in the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002, there is a low threshold to enable Prosecutors to apply to a Crown Court for a Restraint Order. The Prosecutor has to prove that the following circumstances apply:

- That a criminal investigation has commenced against an individual in England and Wales, and
- There is reasonable cause to believe that the alleged offender has benefited from criminal conduct.

Despite the low threshold for obtaining a restraint order, it may still be possible to challenge it, if for example there have been significant delays in the investigation, or a Prosecutor has misled the Court when obtaining the order. We’ll advise you as to the validity of the order and will examine your prospects of successfully challenging it, with a view to an application to discharge it where appropriate.

You would usually be given a restraint order if you are being investigated for fraud, money laundering or serious drug offences. If you are subject to a Restraint Order, you are prohibited from selling, transferring or otherwise disposing of assets until the restraint order is lifted. Bank accounts will be frozen, subject to specified amounts- the starting point for which is usually £250 per week – being allowed to be withdrawn in cash for ordinary living expenses. This situation can be particularly difficult, not only for you but also for any co-owner of the assets that are subject to the order.

There can be occasions where someone else is being prosecuted or investigated and your assets are restrained. This other person may be a member of your family or a business associate. If this happens, you should contact our fraud solicitors for specialist legal advice so we can take steps to challenge the Restraint Order where appropriate and to advise you on the options available to you.

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If a Restraint Order has been served on you, this is indicative of the fact that you are being investigated for a serious criminal offence. You should therefore seek our specialist legal assistance to enable us to protect your interests with regard to the investigation, as well as the Restraint Order.

We’ll advise you as to the validity of the Restraint Order and will examine challenging the making of the order, with a view to an application to discharge it. We’ll also help you with the following:

• If we can prove that your ordinary living expenses are in excess of £250 per week we can seek to negotiate or apply to the Court for the living expenses sum to be increased;
• We can advise you on alternative ways to fund your legal expenses;
• Most Restraint Orders require a statement to be prepared, detailing the assets owned. We can prepare the statement and provide advice regarding the legal and commercial implications of the statement.

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