Spotlight on Corruption proposes an amendment to the Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Bill that would extend the new costs order regime introduced for Unexplained Wealth Orders in the Economic Crime (Transparency and Enforcement) Act 2022 to all economic crime related civil recovery cases. (N.B. For the purposes of this amendment, “cases of economic crime” would include offences under Schedule 8 of the Bill.)
- This amendment would:
● Bring coherence to the fragmented system of costs in civil recovery proceedings;
● Encourage law enforcement authorities to pursue asset recovery more ambitiously and reasonably;
● Protect the public purse when enforcement authorities have exercised their powers reasonably and in the public interest, but have been unsuccessful.
- The current costs regime for civil recovery is fragmented, with different rules applicable in different courts and for different civil recovery tools. Enforcement authorities will rarely have to pay costs when pursuing civil recovery in the magistrates’ court, but are exposed to significant costs in High Court proceedings, where the general rule is that the unsuccessful party pays the legal costs of the successful party.
- The high costs that law enforcement agencies face when they bring cases, however reasonable, against deep pocketed suspects currently act as a serious disincentive for law enforcement to pursue ambitious targets, and skew enforcement efforts towards low-hanging fruit and to assets belonging to “the fled and the dead” – i.e., targets that cannot contest such cases.
You can read the full briefing below.