In Bennett v Chief Constable of Merseyside  EWHC 3591 (Admin), the High Court confirmed that a district judge was correct to make no order for costs against the police after it withdrew its Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (‘POCA’) s.298 application for cash forfeiture. In considering the decision of the district judge, the High Court reaffirmed three points:
i. The starting point is that no order for costs should be made provided that the public authority has acted reasonably and properly;
ii. In determining whether the police acted reasonably and properly, the court should scrutinise the behaviour of the police with care; and
iii. It may be justifiable to award costs against the police, particularly where the successful private party would suffer substantial hardship if no order for costs were made in their favour.
The Secretary of State for the Home Department has recently published two Codes of Practice – one new and one revised – which provide guidance on the appropriate and proportionate use of powers under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (‘POCA’) – note that the enactments on legislation.gov.uk have not, at the date of this blog post, been updated to reflect recent amendents. These Codes came into force on 16 April 2018. They were drafted in order to take account of various amendments made to POCA by the Criminal Finances Act 2017 (‘CFA’), which received Royal Assent on 27 April 2017.
In Campbell v Bromley Magistrates’ Court  EWCA Civ 1161, the Court of Appeal has confirmed that that there are no “fruits of the forbidden tree” consequences when it comes to the forfeiture of cash seized in accordance with Chapter 3 of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (“POCA”).
A search warrant executed at the Appellant’s home had resulted in the seizure of a quantity of cash and the Appellant’s arrest on suspicion of money laundering. The cash was detained and subsequently forfeited under section 298 POCA on application by the police. The Appellant sought to challenge the decision of the Magistrates Court to proceed to a forfeiture hearing without its first determining, at a preliminary hearing, the lawfulness of the search and the subsequent detention of the seized cash.