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HMRC application for an Account Freezing Order (AFO) successfully defeated

News13th March 2020

Naureen Shariff, together with Benjamin Waidhofer of Foundry Chambers, successfully defeated a ‘with notice’ application by HMRC to freeze a bank account holding a credit balance of just under £250,000.00.

Following a fully contested hearing at Nottingham Magistrates’ Court, before Deputy District Judge Harte, which involved detailed cross-examination of HMRC’s financial investigator, HMRC’s application for an Account Freezing Order (AFO) was swiftly refused in the course of a brief ex tempore judgment.

The Criminal Finances Act 2017 inserted sections 303Z1 – 303Z19 into the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002. Those provisions came into force in 2018 and are increasingly used by enforcement officers to obtain Account Freezing Orders (303Z1 – 303Z8 POCA 2002) and subsequently Forfeiture Orders (section 303Z9 – 303Z19 POCA 2002).

The work done on a very tight timescale, in this case, demonstrates the need for anyone in receipt of an applicant for an Account Freezing Order should urgently and immediately obtain legal advice and assistance.