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.
When a person convicted in the Crown Court has an additional prison term enforced by the Magistrates for having only part paid off a confiscation order, he is entitled to a reduction in that term proportionate to the money that has been paid. R (Gibson) v Secretary of State for Justice  UKSC 2;  1 WLR 629 confirmed that the starting point for calculating this reduction is the original sum ordered by the Crown Court, and not the larger sum including interest that had accrued by the date of the Magistrates’ enforcement.