Can you claim reasonable legal costs in Section 298 POCA Forfeiture Applications? Short Answer – Not if the s298 application has been lodged!

Matthew Howarth was instructed on a recent case for the Revenue where Senior Counsel for the Respondent applied, incorrectly, under Section 298F for ‘Reasonable Legal Costs’ (‘RLC’). In drafting submissions to the court it was submitted that the application was misconceived. Matthew invited the Respondent to review paragraph 17 of R. (on the application of Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis) v City of London Magistrates’ Court [2015] EWHC 1656 (Admin) and to withdraw their application.

At the last minute both Senior Counsel for the Respondent withdrew their representation in the case and the Respondent’s solicitor withdrew the application for RLC, conceding the legal position to the Revenue. Full costs were awarded in favour of the Revenue

It is a useful point to know, as was identified in the case law and from reading of Part 5 POCA. Although the area is relatively complicated, it does demand a thorough reading.

In a number of cases, even Account Freezing Orders (‘AFO’), there have been misconceived applications for RLC. It would be advisable to those who practice in this area to look keenly at ‘exclusions’ under Section 303Z5 and have sight of ‘Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (Legal Expenses in Civil Recovery Regulations) 2005’ for RLC in AFO cases. Engagement with the Opposition at the earliest stage is recommended.

If you have any questions about POCA, be it under Section 298 or for an AFO do not hesitate to get in touch.

POCA is one of Matthew Howarth’s main practice areas and I was fortunate enough to be specifically ranked in this area in the 2023 Legal 500 as tier 1 “Matthew is very professional, dedicated and extremely knowledgeable in civil POCA applications. He has an excellent style of presentation in court, is extremely well prepared before case conferences and court hearings and is very reliable”