Court of Appeal decision safeguards the UK’s anti-money laundering regime

27 June, 2024 | 1 minute read

In a landmark decision handed down today, the Court of Appeal overturned a 2023 High Court decision which had seriously undermined the UK’s framework for investigating and recovering the proceeds of crime and risked driving a coach and horses through the UK’s anti-money laundering regime.

The appeal was brought by the World Uyghur Congress and supported by the Global Legal Action Network. Spotlight on Corruption intervened because of our concerns about the consequences of the High Court judgment, as we explained here.

The decision clarifies significant areas of the law and confirms that:

  • the National Crime Agency does not need to identify specific evidence of criminal property before it can open an investigation into the proceeds of crime; and
  • if market value is paid for criminal property, it does not cleanse that property of its criminal nature for anyone who later acquires, uses or obtains it.

For more details on the implications of the judgment, see the briefing below.

Dr Susan Hawley, Executive Director of Spotlight on Corruption, said:

“We welcome the Court’s decision and the much-needed clarification it provided on key areas of the law, which will have significant implications for tackling proceeds of crime in supply chains and other contexts. It protects the UK’s anti-money laundering regime from a highly damaging interpretation – that criminal property can be ‘cleaned’ simply by paying the right price for it – and will ensure that law enforcement’s hands are not tied behind their backs when investigating the proceeds of crime.”

Spotlight on Corruption was represented by Kingsley Napley LLP and Kennedy Talbot KC of 33 Chancery Lane. The World Uyghur Congress was represented by Dearbhla Minogue and Leanna Burnard of GLAN and Bindmans LLP, Alice Hardy of Bindmans LLP, Jonathan Fisher KC, Tom Forster KC, and Anita Clifford of Red Lion Chambers, Russell Hopkins of Temple Garden Chambers, and Admas Habteslasie of Landmark Chambers.

For further commentary on the judgment from the World Uyghur Congress and the Global Legal Action Network, see GLAN’s press release.

Landmark appeal: The UK Court of Appeal at the Royal Courts of Justice, London.
The UK Court of Appeal at the Royal Courts of Justice, London. ©